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The Executioner's Heir: A Novel of Eighteenth-Century France [NOOK Book]

Overview

Charles-Henri Sanson is young, handsome, sophisticated, and rich. He’s also the eldest son of Paris’s most dreaded public official—and in the 1760s, after centuries of superstition, the executioner and his family are outcasts. Charles knows, despite the loathing he feels for the job, that the hangman’s son must become one himself or starve, for society’s doors are closed to him.

Though conscientious and compassionate, Charles, in accepting the inevitable, by the bitter irony of ...

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The Executioner's Heir: A Novel of Eighteenth-Century France

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Overview

Charles-Henri Sanson is young, handsome, sophisticated, and rich. He’s also the eldest son of Paris’s most dreaded public official—and in the 1760s, after centuries of superstition, the executioner and his family are outcasts. Charles knows, despite the loathing he feels for the job, that the hangman’s son must become one himself or starve, for society’s doors are closed to him.

Though conscientious and compassionate, Charles, in accepting the inevitable, by the bitter irony of fate will someday become one of the busiest executioners in history. Long before the French Revolution, however, Charles must spend his youth unwillingly carrying out the monarchy’s merciless justice. A passionate love affair, and becoming a doctor to the poor, help him put out of his mind the horrors of public whipping, hanging, torture, breaking, and burning that he witnesses almost daily. But at last the day comes when—faced with stark injustice—he cannot reconcile the law’s brutal demands with his conscience.

Sure to appeal to fans of the “Hangman’s Daughter” tales, The Executioner’s Heir, the true story of a pair of tragic, converging lives, is a darkly atmospheric novel of prerevolutionary France in all its elegance, decadence, and cruelty.

(Publishers Weekly) "Charles’s personal crisis and clashing loyalties evoke Greek tragedy, and speak to the issues that will resonate with readers." (Starred Review)

(Kirkus Reviews) "Alleyn’s exhaustive research pays off handsomely in well-drawn characters and colorful historical context. In particular, her female characters are refreshing in their range and willingness to defy stereotypes. A sequel would be welcome to this deftly imagined tale of the years before the French Revolution. A well-researched, robust tale featuring an endearing executioner."

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 12/16/2013
In this novel, set in 18th-century France, Alleyn examines the clash of family obligation and individual freedom through the saga of Charles Sanson, who, at age 14, believes himself incapable of decapitating anyone. For most 14-year-olds, this wouldn't be a problem, but Charles is descended from a family of executioners, and he is expected to adopt the family trade at a young age. As Charles reluctantly accepts his profession, Alleyn provides a backdrop of indifferent spectators to highlight the differences in sensibilities between the public and the executioners who carry out justice for their safety. Alleyn is presenting a moral treatise, but it's one that challenges readers and provides an interesting historical perspective. Charles's personal crisis and clashing loyalties evoke Greek tragedy, and speak to the issues that will resonate with readers.
Kirkus Reviews
2013-10-30
Alleyn (Palace of Justice, 2010, etc.), author of several historical mysteries set in France, fashions a dramatic tale based on an actual family of executioners in 18th-century Paris. In a hereditary position as the son of the executioner, Charles Sanson is required to carry on the distasteful occupation first assigned to his great-grandfather or else be left disgraced and without a source of income. Although a necessary job to maintain discipline for the rulers of the Regime Ancien, the executioner was reviled, called a butcher and torturer by his countrymen. With few friends and a small pool of available women to wed, an executioner could be assured only of financial security and a restricted social life. When, due to his father's illness, teenage Charles is forced to take over the role of master executioner of Paris, he struggles to find solace with family and then with women who don't know his secret. When his lover learns of his true profession and abandons him, he rails: "I've nothing to be ashamed of! I'm a good Christian, a gentleman, the king's servant, an officer of the law, and equal of any of them--I only follow orders the judges give me. Why should I be pointed out, hissed at, despised?" When his path intersects with that of François, a bright, high-spirited teenager of petty nobility with no money and little family, Charles realizes that his role as master executioner compels him to carry out horrific punishments on people whose crimes are often more political and vindictive than felonious. Charles realizes that, despite his father's belief that they serve the law and avenge the innocent, he is "a tool of a regime that's revealed itself to be corrupt, malicious, and brutal." Yet Charles continues to carry out the duties of his hereditary post. No detail is spared in describing the heinous punishments demanded by the judiciary and the king. Alleyn's exhaustive research pays off handsomely in well-drawn characters and colorful historical context. In particular, her female characters are refreshing in their range and willingness to defy stereotypes. A sequel would be welcome to this deftly imagined tale of the years before the French Revolution. A well-researched, robust tale featuring an endearing executioner.
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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940045257466
  • Publisher: Spyderwort Press
  • Publication date: 8/31/2013
  • Sold by: Smashwords
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 1,309,412
  • File size: 434 KB

Meet the Author

Susanne Alleyn has loved history all her life, aided and abetted by her grandmother, Lillie V. Albrecht, an author of historical children's books in the 1950s and 60s. Happy to describe herself as an insufferable knowitall about historical trivia (although she lost on Jeopardy!), Susanne has been writing and researching historical fiction for nearly three decades. She is the author of A Far Better Rest, the reimagining of A Tale of Two Cities (Soho Press, 2000); the four Aristide Ravel Mysteries (St. Martin's Press); and The Executioner's Heir: A Novel of Eighteenth-Century France. Nonfiction includes Medieval Underpants and Other Blunders: A Writer's (& Editor's) Guide to Keeping Historical Fiction Free of Common Anachronisms, Errors, & Myths (2012) and A Tale of Two Cities: A Reader's Companion, a heavily annotated edition of Charles Dickens's classic historical novel (now available).

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2013

    The Executioners Heir

    Very good prequel. About the French executioner and his son, jean baptiste sansun, his son was charles jean baptiste sansun. Excellent historical france 18th and 19th century. Action packed, a small amount of love scenes. Graphic in violence. I give this five stars and plan to buy the full version. A 100+ pages free. Not bad. I read in a setting. Can't wait to get the full version.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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