The Bastard Prince of Versailles

A novel inspired by true events

Fiction - Historical - Personage
338 Pages
Reviewed on 04/17/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

The Bastard Prince of Versailles, inspired by true events, is a work of fiction in the historical fiction, LGBTQ+, and interpersonal drama subgenres. Penned by author Will Bashor, it is best suited to the general adult reading list, and contains nothing graphic. This captivating historical novel offers readers a glimpse into the tumultuous life of Louis de Bourbon, the illegitimate son of King Louis XIV of France. Born as a prince but kept in the shadows due to his mother's abandonment and the threat he poses to the royal bloodline, Louis faces numerous challenges, from the scorn of courtiers to questions about his true parentage. What results is a tale of resilience and self-discovery set against the backdrop of the opulent and treacherous world of Versailles.

Author Will Bashor portrays the intrigues of the 17th-century French court with fantastic detail and a passion for atmosphere, filling every page with rivalries, betrayals, and political maneuvering. The character of Louis is sensitively drawn, and readers witness his struggles with identity, love, and the demands of royal life. The Chevalier de Lorraine's manipulation and the gay society subplot add depth to the narrative, highlighting the complexities of sexual identity and society's prejudices of the time. As Louis is exiled and later given a chance at redemption through military service, the novel delves into themes of heroism and self-sacrifice with some deeply compelling emotional scenes that tug at the heartstrings and help us relate to human beings from centuries ago on a modern personal level. Overall, The Bastard Prince of Versailles is a compelling historical novel that not only entertains but also educates about a lesser-known aspect of French history, and I would not hesitate to recommend it.

Rabia Tanveer

The Bastard Prince of Versailles by Will Bashor is a historical novel inspired by true events. Louis de Bourbon was the bastard son of King Louis XIV from a mistress. He lived as an outsider after his mother forsakes him to become a nun. Louis was left to live with his gay uncle Monsieur, his wife, and his lover Chevalier de Lorraine. Chevalier hated the king and wanted to make his life difficult by ruining Louis’s life and reputation. Young Louis was already questioning his sexuality when the Chevalier succeeded in causing a controversy about him. Furious, the king ordered him to be exiled and punished, but Louis was given a last chance. All he had to do was join the army and bring the honor back to the king’s name. The journey ahead wouldn’t be easy, but Louis was ready to do whatever it took to win his father’s heart.

I was invested from the moment I started reading and finished it in one sitting. The Bastard Prince of Versailles had everything you expect from a good novel. It had an intense story, a fantastic protagonist, and a vile antagonist, and the pace was perfect. I loved Louis. He was vulnerable and unable to understand his surroundings, but that made him grow up fast. Louis wanted to prove himself and show his father that he may not be the heir, but he was worth his attention. Author Will Bashor made sure that readers felt a connection with Louis from the beginning and followed him on his journey until the end. I appreciated the depth added to his character and how it helped him develop into a great man. I felt bad for Louis, especially when he was living under the influence of the Chevalier. Reading this novel was a remarkable experience, and I highly recommend it!

Asher Syed

The Bastard Prince of Versailles by Will Bashor is a 17th-century historical fiction novel that begins with a glimpse into Louis de Bourbon's earlier years in the Château of Sceaux, depicting his complex family dynamics and introduction to the court of his natural father, King Louis XIV. The story follows Louis' experiences as he navigates court life, endures its challenges, and forms deep bonds, notably with Marcel. Louis' world takes a dark turn when Marcel is wrongly accused of misconduct, leading to Louis' public humiliation and imprisonment. Despite these hardships, Louis remains determined to redeem himself and gain his father's approval. Louis' departure from exile is fuelled by a readiness to prove himself in the military under Marquis de Mornay's guidance as he seeks his rightful place at the royal court, mustering his strength with a newfound sense of purpose, and a valiant march to Courtrai.

It's pretty rare to come across historical fiction set in the brightness of the Sun King that feels new and fresh, but Will Bashor delivers with great success in The Bastard Prince of Versailles. It is widely understood that the position of a bastard at any court is at risk of being railroaded by those who fear his potential. Bashor makes clear that Louis de Bourbon was particularly vulnerable given his age in the timeline when he is a teen, and the departure of the woman who would have been his greatest ally, his own mother. The standouts in Bashor's storytelling to me are the military aspects and the way he immerses a reader into what training and the dank conditions of battle were well and truly like. I liked the ambiguity of personal relationships that do not in any way detract from the horrors of Louis' experiences and the complete loss of agency over his body and life. The writing is concise, and Bashor is authentic in these depictions. As a result, he gives the world a book that is enlightening and engrossing. Very highly recommended.