If you are someone who is new to the Tudor world, stop everything and read this book. If you are someone who has devoted much of your reading time to the Tudor world, don't worry too much about reading this book.
I found myself immensely let down by this novel. I have read so much about Henry VIII that I found myself jaded by this novel. Reviews every where have this novel being some kind of must read for fans of Tudor fiction. I agree with that sentiment to a point. Had I first read this novel two or three years ago, I think I would have given it a five star rating. Now I've just reached the point where the author has to tell an incredible story for me to be impressed. I spent too much of this novel wanted to throttle Henry for being a spoiled brat. Nothing was ever his fault. Things were to be done his way or result in an "off with his head" tantrum. I get it, this was a book told from Henry's point of view. He's the king, of course he's not wrong. I get that but it got old in a hurry. I got really bored while Anne Boleyn was alive. Once Anne was gone, things were better. Again, I get it, this story is told by Henry but Anne was not just some shrieking, she-devil whose tantrums rivaled Henry's. There was so much more to that. I understand that looking back on things, Henry wasn't going to see anything other than the "witch" who robbed him of his youth. Really I get it. I just hate seeing Anne made into something that seemingly simple. Anne Boleyn was a woman far from simple.
It wasn't just Anne Boleyn who suffered from poor characterization. Everyone in this novel (with the exception of Henry and maybe Elizabeth) suffered from poor characterization. Once more, I get it, this is a novel told from Henry's point of view. I just have a hard time believing Henry saw the people in his life as simply as George makes it seem. Towards the end of the novel when Henry is trying to write a eulogy for Brandon (As a slightly related side note, I love novels featuring Charles Brandon. I gives me an excuse to stop and daydream about Henry Cavill. I don't care if he's nothing like the real Charles Brandon. Any excuse to daydream.) , George gives the reader a glimpse into how Henry might have really seen some of the people closest to him. It's actually quite an emotional passage. Unfortunately, it's the only time I felt any emotion in 900+ pages.
If you consider yourself a die-hard Tudor fan, then I would recommend reading this book. If you consider yourself a well-read Tudor die-hard, I wouldn't open this book with high expectations. If I were to make a list of fictional novels I think Tudor fans should read, this book would make the list. I was not overly impressed with it but I recognize it's significance and think it would make a great novel for those just starting to get their feet wet in Tudor England.