Read King's Fool by Margaret Campbell Barnes Online


When country lad Will Somers lands himself the plum position of jester to the mercurial King Henry VIII, he has no idea that he's just been handed a front-row seat to history.With a seat near the throne and an ear to the floor, Somers witnesses firsthand the dizzying power struggles and sly scheming that marked the reign of the fiery Tudor king. Somers watches the rise andWhen country lad Will Somers lands himself the plum position of jester to the mercurial King Henry VIII, he has no idea that he's just been handed a front-row seat to history.With a seat near the throne and an ear to the floor, Somers witnesses firsthand the dizzying power struggles and sly scheming that marked the reign of the fiery Tudor king. Somers watches the rise and fall of some of the most enigmatic women in history, including the tragic Katherine of Aragon, the doomed Anne Boleyn, and Mary Tudor, who confided in the jester as she made the best of the fragile life of a princess whom everyone wished was a prince.Based on the life of the real Will Somers, King's Fool is infused with Margaret Campbell Barnes' trademark rich detail and historical accuracy. This intimate peek into the royal chambers gives readers a unique view on one of the most tumultuous periods in English history.First published in 1959 by world-renowned historical novelist Margaret Campbell Barnes, King's Fool is a remarkable insider tale of the intrigue, ruthlessness, and majesty of the Tudor court. When country lad Will Somers lands himself the plum position of jester to the mercurial King Henry VIII, he has no idea that he';s just been handed a front-row seat to history....

Title : King's Fool
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781402219023
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 306 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

King's Fool Reviews

  • Elizabeth
    2019-05-07 08:03

    Returning to paperback early 2009!It may be surprising that I only gave 3 stars to one of *Granny's* books, but relative to her other works, this one falls somewhere in the middle. KING'S FOOL, the story of Henry VIII told from the perspective of his royal jester, Will Somers, is a solid read, though by no means her most riveting work. It has, however, been picked up by Sourcebooks to be re-released in paperback early next year (once again featuring companion materials contributed by me). The first person narrative from the perspective of a male character makes it a unique work from MCB, and certainly carries the same humanity and insight as her other books. But let's hope that for the next one, Sourcebooks begins to look to other subjects.

  • Michele
    2019-05-05 05:49

    Yes, I know, ol' Henry the VIII and his surplus of wives has been a bit overdone as of late. But this one was originally published in 1959 and Barnes knew what she was doing here.The tale is told by Will Somers, a man who had a remarkably well-documented career as the King's fool from early in Henry's reign all the way through to his death. (Sound familiar? Margaret George used a similar idea for her 1986 novel, Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers.)The result is a compelling, highly readable portrait of a man who, in his early years, was truly and legitimately concerned with the production of a male heir. He emerges as a man, not the legend: a remarkable and accomplished man who had his fair share of weaknesses and faults.Intertwined with Henry's story is a compelling look at Will Somers himself. From his humble beginnings as a lowly farmboy of no significance to his incredible rise at court, the King's fool himself is a fascinating character and well worth the read here.Do you think the cover art depicting a woman missing her head is a coincidence?Neither do I.

  • Éowyn
    2019-05-16 02:10

    I've read a couple of other historical novels by this author, which were quite enjoyable, but not great. I had to review this after finishing this morning as it was so much better and a really rewarding read.The novel covers the reign of Henry VIII from the point of view of Will Somers, the man who becomes the king's jester or fool. This gives the book a totally different twist and insight from something concentrating on the usual courtly suspects. Will is in the thick of things, with a front row seat in the course of history, if you like, but he's not one of the players in the drama.The novel is actually written in the first person, and it's very rarely that I like this because in the hands of most authors it is clunky, but here I had to go back and check that this was so, as it seemed so natural.Obviously, hindsight is a wonderful thing in history and some of the points made are from the point of view of someone with historical hindsight, but there's also a lot of psychological truth in there and you can quite clearly see why characters act the way they do.Now, my only problem is that MCB was not a writer of authorial afterwords, like many present authors. What I really want to know is how much of the story is true (within the bounds of fictional probability!) and what is fiction/surmise - and what happened to Will Somers next?!

  • Barb
    2019-05-04 09:10

    This is the first novel I've read by Margaret Campbell Barnes and I found it to be an easy and enjoyable read. I thought it was well written and interesting. The history is painted in broad strokes and seen through the sympathetic eyes of Will Somers, King Henry VIII's fool. I enjoyed Will's first person narrative and the relationship between Henry and his fool. But my favorite part of the book was reading about Will's life and relationships. I particularly enjoyed his relationship with his first master Richard Fermor, Richard's daughter Joanna and their parish priest Father Thayne. I would have liked more details about all of them and I would have liked it if Barnes had written another fifty or a hundred pages of this story.I thought it was an easy read and a unique perspective showing the human side of Henry Tudor. I liked it but I'm not sure that it will be one that will stay with me for very long now that I've finished it.

  • Teddy
    2019-04-30 05:11

    Will Somers starts out with a dull life in the country on the family farm. Even his family admits that he doesn't make a good farmer. That doesn't leave him with any real options, until an option lands in his lap.Will is one of the few lucky country children that had an education. He is given to a merchant, Richard Fermer , to work for. He has a good head for numbers and he must do the books and take inventory. He is good at what he does, but it bores him. The one shining light in his new life is Joanna, Master Fermer's daughter. He knows that it would not be possible to marry her, yet he dreams of a life with her.Please read the rest of my review here:

  • Russel
    2019-04-22 05:59

    This is the book that first got me interested in historical fiction and history in general.

  • Susan Altick
    2019-04-19 08:14

    She's an outstanding author.

  • Jinny
    2019-04-21 07:06

    Yes, I know, yet another novel about King Henry VIII and his six wives. I have to admit, even I am getting a little tired of it, though obviously not tired enough to stop reading this genre altogether. I was recommended Margaret Campbell Barnes’ novels, so I tried one out during my six hour flight to Hawaii, and managed to read through almost all of it during the flight. I really liked the fact that it was told through the eyes of a 3rd party — in this case, King Henry’s fool (a sort of court jester role), Will Somers. I also really liked how it covered all six of his wives, rather than having to read six books or something, though I do want to point out that this book is about Will mostly, he’s not just a voice the author is using to relay Henry VIII’s love life through.If you know anything about the real historical King Henry and his six wives, then you already, of course, have a good idea of what the story is about. But less likely, people know about Will Somers, who really was King Henry’s fool and according to sources, a sort of confidante for the king. I didn’t know anything about Will Somers other than the fact he was Henry’s fool, so it was actually pretty refreshing for me to read, what is by now an all too familiar story to me, about Henry and his wives from a different perspective. Will Somers isn’t just a narrator though; he has his own life to live in this book and he goes over his origins: where he came from, how he became Henry’s fool, how he utilized his “power” when it became clear he was a favourite of the king, and his own love life. I’m not sure if Will’s love life part of the story was real or not because, as I said earlier, I had little knowledge of Will to begin with. It was a nice touch to the story though, as it made Will feel like a real person who also had feelings, and not just a court fool.What I didn’t like was how the book seemed to focus primarily on Henry’s marriages to Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. Based on the title of this book, I guess I mistakenly thought each wife would get a roughly equal share of the spotlight, but that’s not true at all. Wives one and two got by far the most time in the spotlight, while everyone else was quickly shuffled through. The author seemed to want to focus more on Will Somers’ own life in the latter half of the book rather than Henry’s, which I suppose is fair since the book is about Will, really. Still, I would have liked it if the last four wives weren’t brushed over. Katherine Parr, especially, I barely got anything about her from this book.All in all, a solid novel and I would definitely read more of Barnes’ books.

  • Carey
    2019-05-08 02:15

    Will Somers grew up the impoverished son of a country schoolmaster. He had no talent for farm work but had a quick, sharp wit. In this inventive novel, originally published fifty years ago, Margaret Campbell Barnes imagines how this young man came to be the confidant, even friend, of one of history's largest men, King Henry the Eighth. Though he comes to live at court at the King's side, as his jester, Will loves and misses his first master, merchant Richard Fermor. He particularly misses Master Fermor's daughter, Joanna, whom he is madly in love with but knows that he is far below in terms of status and wealth. He despairs of ever winning her love and devotes himself almost monastically to King Henry and his court.Through Will's eyes, we see each of Henry's six queens from an outside, and male, point of view. Good and honest Catherine of Aragon, scheming Anne Boleyn, bland Jane Seymour, foreign and intelligent Anne of Cleves, silly and empty-headed Kathryn Howard, and motherly Kate Parr. Of course, anyone so close to a royal person will inspire jealousy in some, and power-hungry Cardinal Wolsey and Cromwell are not exceptions. Life at court is not easy, but Will is privileged to have the King's ear and hears firsthand the reasoning and soul searching that go into the history changing decisions that Henry makes during his reign.The special relationship between Will and Henry allows Will to ask special favors for those in need, and he does what he can to improve their lives by intervening with the King on their behalf. Eventually his generosity is rewarded in a way that exceeds his wildest dreams.This historical novel is a great addition for anyone who enjoys Tudor fiction. It takes a unique and refreshing look at a well-known story. I found the male point of view and outlook very refreshing.

  • Kirstin
    2019-05-12 05:52

    Like most historical fiction aficionados, I have read my fair share of Henry the 8th novels and those about his many wives. I was first attracted to this novel because it was supposed to be from a different point of view. The royal jester, William Somers, was there for all of it. He was privy to all the secrets and ways of King Henry so I expected something different and something interesting. I was disappointed. I found this book rather boring to be honest. The story was the same though you get to know the same suspects in a different light which was nice. I did like William Somers. I found him to be endearing and at the base he was trying to survive royal favor just like everybody else. He was torn between his attachments to different queens, but his affection for the king was always present. As the jester, he was given more liberties than other royal servants and managed to create a good little life for himself. I wish I would have gotten more of this life and less of the wife lottery of King Henry. Overall, it was the same story just told slightly different. While the William Somers story was endearing, the rest of the book was stale in my opinion. If you are in the mood for some Tudor, I would suggest bypassing this one and going for one which focuses on just one wife at time. There is way more detail and intrigue that way.

  • Kerry
    2019-04-20 01:54

    I have always enjoyed historic fiction, particularly historic fiction about the life and times of the Tudors, but lately it has been a bit difficult to find a book about this era in history that both catches my attention and is enjoyable to read. I find that either the authors re-tread old ground without having anything new to say or they slide to the opposite extreme and insert a lot of sensational, implausible things just to get a rise out of their readers. All in all, I was starting to feel a bit jaded on the genre and really was hoping to find a new book or new author that could inject some new life into the proceedings, which is why I am so happy that I happened upon Margaret Campbell Barnes’ novel, King’s Fool. It was entertaining, interesting and featured a main character that I really enjoyed getting to know. Will Somers’ unique place in the Tudor court (close enough to see and know Henry VIII and his family intimately but removed enough from the political maneuverings that he remained likeable to reader) makes him the perfect narrator, full insight, compassion and wit and I truly enjoyed hearing his story and seeing history through his eyes.

  • Neil
    2019-04-27 08:16

    This is a solid fictional account of the reign of Henry VIII from the perspective of his fool and friend, Will Somers. Somers was a real historical character, a young man associated with the merchant Richard Fermor until Henry brought him to court as a fool, close enough to Henry's family to be portrayed with them in a couple of pictures. He hung on at court until around the inauguration of Elizabeth I. Other than that, history doesn't say a lot about the real man.Barnes makes an interesting case of what life might have been like as a friend and ally of the difficult Henry. It's a pleasant enough read, and nothing egregious happens to the historical truth, but for my tastes the narrator is a bit too idealized, and for someone who is supposedly a brilliant fool, shows little particular wit (we're told he's witty frequently, but never really shown convincing examples of this wit.) Still, compared to some of the more ridiculous historical fiction about the Tudors, this isn't too far over the top. It's quick reading and squeezes a good amount of history and depth into less than 300 pages.

  • Heather
    2019-05-05 02:51

    For all the Tudor historical fiction I have read, I loved this refreshing perspective told from real life court jester Will Sommers. He must have truly been exceptional for his time to have not only fallen into the jester position but to have kept it for over 20 years and being one of the closest confidantes to Henry VIII. Regardless of the poetic license taken with Will's romantic life and details of what he felt, heard, and saw, the tale is quite believable and possible.My only regret is that the book wasn't a little longer. There seemed to be room to flesh out more of the skipped-over timeframes. The book description also alludes to the fact that Will may have worked in the subsequent Tudor monarchs reigns, at least up to the point Elizabeth takes the throne. I would have liked to stretch to see what Will was up to in those years, especially what he thought of Mary's choices on the throne and what his perspective was of the pendulum swing back with religious regards.Very much enjoyed this novel and will look at more from the author in the future!

  • Gretchen
    2019-05-09 09:11

    This book was not quite as advertised. If you want a novel about the Tudor court full of all the intrigue an rumors generally associated with the Tudor court, you won't find that here. If you want a well written story about a man who lived during an interesting time, read this book.There is just something about an older book (this novel was originally published in 1959) that makes me smile. The writing style is something almost non-existent today. If you are a fan of author like Jean Plaidy, Anya Seton, and Norah Lofts, you will enjoy Margaret Campbell Barnes. She manages to bring the past to life without bogging down the reader with much of the trash generally associated with the Tudors. There is a romantic element to this novel but it's what I like to think of as a simple romance. The love story isn't overpowering and it takes place outside of a bed.

  • Pamela
    2019-05-15 05:48

    A different slant on a well-known historical figure. Told through the eyes of the very real Will Somers, this book offers a different perspective of Henry VIII and his six wives. I really liked Will--very likable, humble, without being too self-effacing, he offers a nice contrast to the scheming, conniving courtiers that populate court life. He also offers a sympathetic view of Henry, although he is honest about Henry's increasing tendency to despotic rule as he gets older. My biggest criticism--and it drives me crazy--is Ms. Barnes lack of dates and ages. I like to KNOW how old the characters are when things are going on and since this is historic, the years in which significant events occur. I'd really like to read more of her books as I have enjoyed this one and The Tudor Rose, but that lack of dates thing leaves me feeling adrift.

  • KyleeJ
    2019-05-05 03:09

    I’ve wanted to learn more about Will Somers since reading Philippa Gregory’s books about the women in Henry VIII’s life. How interesting it would have been to be within Henry VIII’s inner circle, but not to be considered a threat by such a powerful man.Will Somers was in just such a position. Born in Shropshire, England Will Somers was the only son, only child actually, of a churchman father and a Welsh mother, she died of the plague when Will was only four. Will had pretty happy life until his beautiful singing voice broke at 14; his father taught the choristers and this seemed to be their big connection. Soon after, Will moves in with his Uncle Tobias, a farmer. On his uncles' farm is where Will Somers meets Richard Fermor, a wool merchant. Meeting and becoming part of the household of Master Fermor is only the first of some very big events in the life of Will Somers.

  • Leigh Ann
    2019-04-24 07:51

    I struggled with this book in the beginning due to Barnes' writing style. After I adjusted to her writing style, I found the book rather enjoyable. It was different perspective about Henry VIII's life and reign as King of England. Will Somers, the court jester, has been portrayed in many novels about this time period, but you never truly knew that much about him (at least from some of the novels I have read). What you did know was only his jokes and antics from being the court jester. This novel is about his early life before joining court and up until the death of the King. The book is a good read, but I did find it difficult at times. I do wish it had been a little more detailed with the other marriages of the King.

  • Krista
    2019-05-18 10:10

    As geeky as it sounds, there was too much back story to this book than I cared for. I was more interested in a first hand account of what went on at court having to do with Henry personally, but this book focused on Will Somers' (fictional) private life. I appreciate that the author specified that his back story was fictionalized and imagined, but that court events were true. Also, like too many Tudor-era books out there, the book spent a large chunk of time on the events during Henry's marriage to Anne Boleyn, which became tiresome considering he had 5 other wives. This book was an easy and quick read, but I wouldnt recommend it for someone looking for some actual historical information and events, but for someone looking for a historical novel.

  • H.A. Mims
    2019-05-08 10:03

    Although my opinion on "The Tudor Rose" was less than stellar, I decided to give this author another try. Glad I did – "King's Fool" was much more enjoyable. Being written in first person likely helped, as I really connected with the character of Will Somers and found him genuine and likable. The love story between him and Joanna was beautifully executed, and although there weren't any new insights into the Tudors as suggested by this subtitle, I wasn't bothered by that. There are plenty of books about Henry and his wives… far too few about Will Somers.I do feel that quite a few things were glossed over where I would've liked more detail, while others of much less interest received too much attention. But all in all, this was a lovely book. Happy I gave it a chance.

  • Sara G
    2019-05-17 03:03

    This is a lovely book about the life of Will Somers during the Tudor era, whose life ends up intersecting with the royal family themselves when he becomes Henry VIII's court fool. The author describes Will's early years and family life with the same amount of detail and focus as the Tudors themselves get, and I think that's why I enjoyed this one so much. There are probably thousands of books directly about Henry VIII et. al. but less that show what life was like for his more humble subjects and associates. I highly recommend this one to anyone interested in the Tudor era. It's more than just another book about Henry and his wives.

  • Cindy
    2019-05-08 07:59

    This is a good book that covers a span of 20 years of King Henry VIII's court jester, Will Somers. It gives Will's point of view of what happens in Henry's life. It also tells Will's own story about love and life. It shows the close personal relationship that King Henry VIII had with his jester, which can be seen in real life, as there were several paintings done during the Tudor reign with Will included in the picture. If you like any stories concering the Tudor dynasty, then this would be a good book to read!

  • April Martinez
    2019-04-30 10:06

    Kong's Fool: A Notorious King, His Six Wives, and the One Man Who Knew All Their SecretsThis story showed a different side of Henry VIII, instead of the gross characterization so many books tend to be. A story of a frustrated man wanting a son to leave his legacy to. How ironic that all along it was the daughter who made that dream come true! This is a easy book to read with touches of history scattered through the story, be sure to take time to look at the portrait of Henry VIII and his jester! To bad it isn't on the cover!

  • Vanessa
    2019-04-19 02:55

    This is the second of this authors books I have read and I have to say it was a little disappointing. I was really looking forward to reading about the life and wives of Henry VIII through the eyes of his jester, but it turned out being an agonizing love story about himself. Most of Henry's reign was quickly glossed over, the reformation, dissolution and changing times barely mentioned. Although I really enjoy the authors writing style, I felt the story didn't deal enough with the Tudors.

  • Emily
    2019-04-26 04:15

    I am a bit overloaded with Henry the 8th era books. This one had a charming twist as it was seen through the eyes of Will Somers, the king's jester. It was a nice story. This one was less on the politics of the era and more about Henry, the man as Will saw him. It included a nice side story of Will's life although I am not sure if any of that was from history or if it was pure fiction.

  • Dian Burns
    2019-04-23 02:50

    I have to admit...I was concerned when I hit the 35% mark and Anne Boleyn had just arrived but I guess he did technically serve Henry through all 6 wives and the birth of his children. Nothing really revealed that other books haven't covered but reading about the people who served or stood in the shadow of history was what makes this story worth the read.

  • Keri
    2019-05-12 09:09

    The story comes from the point of view of King Henry VIII's jestor. He is a friend and confidant of the king's and is behind the scenes when all the gossip happens. Interesting story. I enjoyed reading this book. It gave Henry VIII a kinder, more human face and came to a happy end for the king's friend and jestor.

  • Mandi Waller
    2019-04-22 10:12

    Very good version of Henry VIII's life as seen through the eyes of his jester, Will Sommers, who was with Henry from his first wife to the sixth at this death. Personally, I like more depth to the story of each wife, but that would make for a VERY long book so this was a good "review" of the wives and from an interesting perspective.

  • Jennie Dhanagom
    2019-05-02 10:03

    Gives insight to all the characters involved, and a good amount of sympathy and pov concerning all the characters, while still maintaining a certain objectivity about the characters' choices and priorities. Extremely well done, with no political bias.

  • Deb
    2019-04-26 06:18

    What a great way to look at King Henry VIII. Henry was a very difficult King to feel compassion for. Yet, after reading this book, one is reminded that things aren't always as the world views it. This was my first book by Margaret Campbell Barnes. I can't wait to buy her other books!

  • Jessie (saxgrl1)
    2019-05-18 03:57

    An interesting point of view of the life of Henry VIII. I struggled throught the beginning of this book, but really got into it once Will became part of Court life. His compasionate nature and ability to listen makes Will an endearing and important part of the Tudor history.