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The French Executioner: A Novel
     

The French Executioner: A Novel

3.5 3
by C.C. Humphreys
 

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The last thing Jean Rombaud expects upon being summoned to behead Anne Boleyn is to dedicate his life to her. But the ill-fated queen has a mysterious request for her executioner: that after taking her life he also take her infamous six-fingered hand and bury it at a sacred crossroads in France. His oath will set Jean on the most dangerous journey of his

Overview

The last thing Jean Rombaud expects upon being summoned to behead Anne Boleyn is to dedicate his life to her. But the ill-fated queen has a mysterious request for her executioner: that after taking her life he also take her infamous six-fingered hand and bury it at a sacred crossroads in France. His oath will set Jean on the most dangerous journey of his life.

In The French Executioner, C.C. Humphreys once again brings the past to life in all its glory and peril. This thrilling novel captures the breathtaking story of how courage, love, and loyalty bound Anne Boleyn to the man who ended her life—and saved her legacy.

"Humphreys has fashioned a rollicking good yarn that keeps the pages turning from start to finish."—Irish Examiner

"A wonderful saga of magic and heroism. If you can find a first impression, hoard it and wait till it rises in value like a first edition of Lord of the Rings. This is as good."—Crime Time, UK

"A brilliant, brutal, and absorbing historical thriller on the real-life figure of Jean Rombaud, the man who beheaded Anne Boleyn."—Northern Echo

"An entertaining read—a charming page turner."—Edmonton Journal

"Lightning paced."—Publishing News

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
10/27/2014
Humphreys (Jack Absolute) breathes life into 16th century Europe with this fascinating tale of adventure and mystery as Anne Boleyn's executioner must fulfill his promise to the queen who has been marked for death. Executioner Jean Rombaud didn't expect Anne Boleyn to have ask for aything from him when he was summoned to England to execute her, but when Anne requests that he bury her six-fingered hand at a sacred crossroads in France, he agrees. There are others who believe in the magical powers of that hand and will do everything in their power to keep Rombaud from getting the hand. As he journeys to the destination, he becoems a prisoner on a ship, where he makes the acquaintance of two friends who assist him in his task. Humphreys has creatively combined historical fact with mystical fiction: the severed hand seems to have a life of its own and causes irrational behavior in those seeking it. Humphreys's characters are well drawn and deeply empathetic, and Rombaud's mission remains entertaining throughout. Agent: Jessica Purdue, Orion Publishing Group. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
"This unusual tale conjures visions of an Errol Flynn-type Hollywood swashbuckler...the tale's well-told, engagingly written, and includes a colorful immersion into a time when life was cheap and danger or death literally waited around every corner. A gory but fascinating...look at the world in the early 16th century. " - Kirkus

"Set against the backdrop of the Protestant Reformation, his superbloody Princess Bride-like adventure is, at its heart, a tale of redemption, well earned and hard-won." - Library Journal

"I still wasn't expecting such a far fetched, rich, magical adventure that I discovered. This isn't a negative remark in any sense as many love the art of fantasy fiction and it is brilliant to take such a well known chunk of history (Queen Anne and her beheading) and then not just focus on that, but focus on another one of her body parts and the man that removed it (as well as her head)." - The Reading Cafe

"Humphreys (Jack Absolute) breathes life into 16th century Europe with this fascinating tale of adventure and mystery...Humphreys's characters are well drawn and deeply empathetic, and Rombaud's mission remains entertaining throughout. " - Publishers Weekly

"An amusing Three Muskateers-esque historical fiction mashup by C.C. Humphreys, who makes the story work using his graceful prose. " - MJ's Book Reviews

"The menagerie of characters are truly wonderful and astonishing... a very wild ride indeed!!" - Reecaspieces

"Humphreys does write in a way that draws you into the story.I did appreciate the twist on Tudor history — I do love looking at the old and turning it upside down." - Broken Teepee

"It's a somewhat of a tamer Game of Thrones meets Robin Hood's Merry Men with a touch of musketeers and Cyrano de Bergerac." - Zee Monodee

"C. C. Humphreys never disappoints. His tales are always full of great characters and tons of action. He is a storyteller who sweeps the reader up and takes them on a magical ride...This is absolutely one of my favorite books of 2014. This book is recommended for readers of fantasy and those who enjoy historical action literature. " - Booksie's Blog

"If you like your history spiked with a dash of derring do, this may be the book for you. Nearly 400 pages and covering several locations, it's sure to keep you entertained. The author is an accomplished actor, writer, swordsman, and fight choreographer, so you can expect quality action. " - Literary Litter

"This book has it all. Fast paced and entertaining, I almost couldn't put it down. I loved all the characters, but especially loved Haakon. This is a great book! Very highly recommended!" - The Musings of a Book Junkie

"I liked this book and not just because Humphreys re-imagined Anne's execution as a beginning rather than an end. I think his characterization of Jean Rombaud inspired and I found the intrigue he created around her famous appendage intensely provocative." - Flashlight Commentary

"I really enjoyed this story and highly recommend it. The writing and the story line were engaging. I thought Humphreys was able to capture many different elements of this time period that were not written about before. It was an enjoyable read! " - Book Nerd

"This book is a roller coaster ride of intense action woven throughout a beautifully written story with just enough fact to keep you riveted to the pages until the very end. Once you start reading, you won't want to put it down. Highly recommended. " - Game Vortex

Kirkus Reviews
2014-08-14
This unusual tale conjures visions of an Errol Flynn-type Hollywood swashbuckler. Jean Rombaud has a rather distasteful job by today's standards: He presides over formal executions by cutting off the heads of those condemned to die, providing they are rich enough to pay for his services. Jean is a French executioner and uses a flathead sword rather than an axe to sever the head from the body, which is faster and more accurate. This time he has been retained to preside over the May 1536 beheading of Henry VIII's wife, Anne Boleyn, the queen of England. In a meeting before her execution, she asks Jean to also sever her famous six-fingered hand (an attribute not all historians believe she possessed) and bury it in France. He agrees, and when the hand is stolen, he sets out to recover it. Along the way, Jean's journey becomes complicated by both camaraderie and love. Among the companions he acquires as he crosses the European continent are two fellow mercenaries—a Norseman and his part-wolf dog and a Muslim who has crossed some very bad people—a member of a famous German banking family and his pet raven; a young boy who may not be what he appears; and the boy's alchemist father, a captive of Jean's sworn enemy, the thief who took the hand for his own nefarious purposes. Humphreys, whose background includes choreographing sword fights for movies and television, tends to overdo the details involved in the many fights in which the band of adventurers engage. But while he takes a few small liberties with history, the tale's well-told, engagingly written, and includes a colorful immersion into a time when life was cheap and danger or death literally waited around every corner. A gory but fascinating, albeit overly long, look at the world in the early 16th century.
Library Journal
09/15/2014
The author of eight historical novels (Vlad; Shakespeare's Rebel; Jack Absolute) reimagines the life of Jean Rombaud, the eminent French executioner who beheaded Anne Bolyen in 1536. Having been summoned by King Henry VIII to execute his queen, Rombaud meets with his client/victim to discuss the details of the execution and identifies a compatriot. Resigned to her fate, Anne asks him to sever her six-fingered hand, along with her head, and bury the hand in the soil of their shared land. His vow to do so becomes a harrowing quest. As Rombaud makes his way to France, he acquires a retinue of misfits and honorable mercenaries who help him battle a debauched archbishop, hell-bent on obtaining the hand for his own nefarious purposes. VERDICT Published for the first time in the United States, this title was Humphreys's first novel and earned him a nomination for a CWA Steel Dagger for Thrillers Award in 2002. Set against the backdrop of the Protestant Reformation, his superbloody Princess Bride-like adventure is, at its heart, a tale of redemption, well earned and hard-won.—Laura Cifelli, Fort Myers-Lee Cty. P.L., FL

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781402272349
Publisher:
Sourcebooks
Publication date:
10/07/2014
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
1,347,082
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.20(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Chris (C.C.) Humphreys is an actor, playwright, fight choreographer and novelist. He has written nine historical fiction novels including The French Executioner, runner up for the CWA Steel Dagger for Thrillers; Vlad — The Last Confession, the epic novel of the real Dracula; and A Place Called Armageddon. His latest YA novel is The Hunt of the Unicorn. His work has been translated into thirteen languages. Find out more about him on his website: http://cchumphreys.com

Customer Reviews

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French Executioner 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Mirella More than 1 year ago
Although this novel is set during the Tudor era, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the main focus of the story was the Jean Rombaud. The story centers around Anne Boleyn’s 6th finger, which the executioner cut off at her request at the moment of beheading, and in which she wanted him to bury it in a secret place in France within a set period. But the finger is stolen by an Archbishop who witnessed the execution for his own greedy purposes. Honor bound to his promise to the dead queen, Jean sets off in pursuit of the Archbishop to recover the relic. Along the way, he accumulates a colorful cast of characters to aid him in his quest. I loved this swashbuckling action and adventure novel. The storyline had plenty of twists and turns, with plenty of fight scenes, setbacks, and dangerous circumstances to keep me reading to the very end. The story had a touch of fantasy to it too, but it was done in a highly credible way. My favourite part of the book was Jean Rombaud’s encounter with Anne Boleyn before and after the execution. It was brilliantly done and remains as one of the most vivid scenes throughout this rich novel. Another winner by Humphrey! A stunning, fun tale!
Doodlebug4444 More than 1 year ago
4 out of 5 for this reader folks! WELL .... that was quite different from what I expected and what I have ever read before.  When I read the synopsis I figured out that this was not going to be a traditional "Tudor" historical fiction, but I still wasn't expecting such a far fetched, rich, magical adventure that I discovered.  This isn't a negative remark in any sense as many love the art of fantasy fiction and it is brilliant to take such a well known chunk of history (Queen Anne and her beheading) and then not just focus on that, but focus on another one of her body parts and the man that removed it (as well as her head). "The French Executioner" by C.C. Humphreys is about Jean Rombaud who was the french man with the expert sword that ending the famous Queen's life.  Before the task was completed, Anne made Jean promise to take her six fingered hand and bury it at a certain place at a certain time as it's now a relic.  Once the beheading is complete, Jean begins his journey by having the relic stolen from underneath him.  Now facing the task of recovery and full filling a promise, Jean takes us on quite the adventure.  We are taken to place after place, experience fight after fight and understand why Jean is so motivated to make this vow a reality.  He comes from such sad circumstances and you get the sense that if he can keep this promise he has redeemed himself some what. Will not share any more than that about the story.  While I may have thought I was going to get another historical fiction of the Tudor dynasty, I was pleasantly surprised that instead, I indulged in a medieval fantasy plot.  I mean who has ever read anything about the man that beheaded the infamous Queen of England?  Who has ever heard or thought to write about her six fingered hand and then make it a relic?  SO UNIQUE! I will say it did take me a little bit to get into this book.  I did think to myself a few times "Pick it up all ready!", but once the picking up happened, I was committed to the read.  I do prefer my Tudor historical fiction on the more traditional side, but reading this book was like a breath of fresh air that left me wondering/anticipating where/what I was about to experience. If you enjoy anything Tudor, you should give this book a try. HAPPY READING! :)
MsDollie More than 1 year ago
Not what I expected but delightfully entertaining. I usually prefer historical fiction to present a reasonably plausible narrative. Despite The French Executioner being more fantasy than I typically read, I was entertained; sometimes quite humorous, frequently bluntly gory and always interesting. I might not choose to read it again but it was good enough to convince me to read the sequel.