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Publishers WeeklyRoyalty has always been good for stories of extremes-good, bad, and infamous. In her latest exploration of aristocratic errors, Carroll (after Notorious Royal Marriages) looks at a handful of aristocrats who gained infamy through homicidally bad behavior (like Ivan the Terrible or Renaissance "Blood Countess" Erzsébet Báthory), serious sexual indiscretions (Prince Henry, Duke of Cumberland), or outright treason (King John and Richard III). Carroll writes comprehensive biographies of each, highlighting the implications and outcomes of their poor decisions; the results will leave readers alternatively horrified, amused, and disgusted. Despite repetitive and unimaginative prose, the information and brisk pacing make Carroll's book a treat, and readers with idle interest in the antics of the privileged classes will eat it up. The author tries to be fair when dealing with contending perspectives and is transparent about her own bias. Packed with gruesome details and brimming with wit, this is a wildly breezy read.
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