Edward (long live the king) is the King of England. He’s also dying, which is inconvenient, as he’s only sixteen and he’d much rather be planning for his first kiss than considering who will inherit his crown…
Jane (reads too many books) is Edward’s cousin, and far more interested in books than romance. Unfortunately for Jane, Edward has arranged to marry her off to secure the line of succession. And there’s something a little odd about her intended…
Gifford (call him G) is a horse. That is, he’s an Eðian (eth-y-un, for the uninitiated). Every day at dawn he becomes a noble chestnut steed—but then he wakes at dusk with a mouthful of hay. It’s all very undignified.
The plot thickens as Edward, Jane, and G are drawn into a dangerous conspiracy. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, our heroes will have to engage in some conspiring of their own. But can they pull off their plan before it’s off with their heads?
I went into this book with a lot of trepidation because I’m familiar with the history and historical inaccuracies can sometimes make me lose my suspension of disbelief (don’t get me started on Reign), BUT, thankfully that wasn’t the case here. The authors are very up front about how they’re re-writing history and the book was so fun and playful that I almost prefer to think of things turning out this way rather than how they actually did because that was, well, really tragic. The way that I looked at this story was as if it were a fanfiction of history. Where the historical figures can sometimes change into animals. Because why not?
If this sounds like a silly premise, that’s because it is. This book is COMPLETELY and UNABASHEDLY ridiculous and I loved every minute of it. In addition to the general hilarity of the premise, there are a lot of clever references to other works, such as The Princess Bride, worked into the story. I’m also sure the authors are aware of Cary Elwes (who was in the film version of The Princess Bride) playing Guilford Dudley in the 1986 film, Lady Jane, adding another layer onto the references which made them even more fun.
I loved the relationships between the characters and how they evolve over the course of the story. Yes, it’s somewhat predictable, but all of the interaction between the various characters is so much fun that I didn’t mind that at all. (Did I mention this book is FUN?) Gifford and Jane’s relationship is great. It’s not love at first sight or even second sight. They spend a lot of time getting to actually know one another, after initially not getting along and having a lot of assumptions. G’s little issue of turning into a horse further complicates things for a bit (no pun intended). Also, I just really love the way they wrote Jane. Historically, she was given a great education. In the book, she’s educated and a huge bookworm! She likes to sleep with books in her room! Jane is basically me! (And probably a lot you out there reading this, too.) Edward was great too, and even though he’s a king, he’s also very much a teen-aged boy.
I usually don’t talk much about the dialogue in books, but I’m mentioning it here because it was just so funny. So many jokes, so much witty banter back and forth. Even when the characters were in their own heads, thinking things to themselves, it was great. So much of the dialogue feels quotable. (Again, did I mention that this book is FUN???)
Besides the history involved in the story between the fight over the crown, there is a new and fantastical plot introduced as well. It could, in its way, stand in for the actual struggle in the country at the time over religion. I’m not sure why they focused on that vs the history (because there’s already a built in plot there) except for maybe that would have made such a fun book take a turn for the serious, and changing it in that way kept it feeling more light.
My Lady Jane was a DELIGHT, and I’m so glad that I took a chance on it and decided to pick it up. I also recommend the audio if you’re into that because the narration was, you guessed it, fun. 4.5/5 stars.