The Stuart Queens Book Tag

What’s that? A book tag that’s a whole ton of fun and teaches me some excellent history at the same time? You son of a bitch, I’m in. This tag was made my one of my fave people in the blogosphere, Jess over at her blog Jessticulates. Go check out her post and if you like the tag, give it a whirl yourself!

The Stuarts were a very old royal family from Scotland who came to power in England following the death of the last Tudor monarch, Elizabeth I. James VI of Scotland became James I of England because his great-grandmother was Margaret Tudor, sister of Henry VIII and daughter of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, who became Queen of Scotland when she married James IV. But who cares about James? Let’s take a look at the Stuart queens…

Anne of Denmark

The wife of James VI of Scotland and I of England, Anne was England’s first Stuart queen and a keen patron of the arts, so choose a book about, or a book that incorporates, poetry, music or art…

Ooh there’s a few options here. The first one that comes to mind as a recent read is Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee, which I reviewed a little while ago here. It’s about a painter in a fantasy analogue of Japanese-occupied Korea who discovers a giant, sigil-powered mecha-dragon that they use to fight imperialism. Great concept but I was actually a little lukewarm on the book personally, so I’m actually gonna mention two more, cos who wants to pick just one book for a book tag answer? First one is Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey, a fantastic near future dystopia about a band of armed librarians fighting fascism. The government in the book has banned a lot of literature and one of the roles the librarians play is to secretly disseminate ‘unapproved’ books and pamphlets among the population. It’s a brilliant story that I read for the Subjective Chaos awards, so you can look forward to a full review very soon. The second book is Prosper’s Demon by K. J. Parker, a sort of fantasy horror novella set in what felt like a 16th century central Europe/Holy Roman Empire secondary world. It’s about a demon exorcist who moves to the royal court when he becomes convinced that genius polymath Prosper of Schanz is possessed. Dark and wryly humorous, I enjoyed this one a lot and was overjoyed to discover a sequel released last month called Inside Man.

Henrietta Maria of France

Poor Henrietta Maria, who was both French and Catholic, was not a popular lady in Protestant England, but her marriage to Charles I was ultimately a happy one – even though it ended in tragedy for them. Choose an unpopular book or character you will always defend…

I don’t know if I just misunderstand this type of question, but I always interpret it as ‘an actually insanely popular book that has an army of detractors because it’s trash’. I’m thinking stuff like Twilight, Fifty Shades of Grey and Ready Player One. So if we’re working off that interpretation then I’m gonna go with Angels and Demons by Dan Brown. It’s the only Dan Brown book I’ve read, and yes, it is utter trash, just a flaming pile of nonsensical, poorly-researched garbage…that I was utterly hooked on and read in a single sitting. That book was so much fun and I will challenge anyone who disagrees with me to a duel at dawn.

Catherine of Braganza

Originally from Portugal, Catherine was Queen consort of England as the wife of Charles II. The two of them never had any children, but Charles fathered many children with his many mistresses. Choose a book with a protagonist who deserved a better love interest…

Haha right, ok, I reckon I’m gonna go off the deep end with this one cos I don’t often consciously think about the love interest aspect of most stories I’m reading, even if they are very present and I enjoy them, so this could get weird. No idea why this is what’s popped into my head first, but Jack Torrence from The Shining was a shitty love interest really wasn’t he? Not sure if Wendy actually loved him anymore or if their marriage had gone sour long before the events of that book, but I feel like she deserved a husband who wasn’t gonna go crazy and try to murder his wife and son. To be fair to Jack, in the book the ghosts play a much bigger role in Jack’s homicidal tendencies than Kubrick’s film suggests.

Tell you what as well, that fish from The Old Man and the Sea deserved a better love interest. The eponymous old man pure loved that fish (though not more than Hemingway loved droning on about it) and I’d have liked if that fish had just found a mate and settled down and Santiago never found it, then Hemingway wouldn’t have had a story to write and I wouldn’t have felt like burning my own eyes out the whole time I spent reading it.

On the other hand, there are some absolute power couples out there I’d love to shout out. Lord Asriel and Mrs Coulter anyone? Those two are awful people but fuck me are they good together. They put me in mind of Silas and Delilah Briarwood too, for all you Critical Role fans out there. I think that story arc is my all time favourite part of that Vox Machina campaign, which I regard as one of the best fantasy stories of all time, so that’s some top tier shit. That “I broke the world for you” line still gives me full body shivers man.

Mary of Modena

Mary was the second wife of James II, and the only one of his two wives to be Queen consort, but the couple’s Catholicism made them very unpopular in England. It was widely rumoured that their only son to survive to adulthood, James Francis Edward Stuart, was a changeling who was smuggled into the birthing chamber in a warming pan, so choose a book about the fae…

There’s only one book I was ever gonna choose for this: Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng. It was actually one of the first books I ever reviewed when I started blogging and not long after actually used some of the creepy-ass characters as inspiration for a couple of NPCs in my D&D game when the players ventured into the faewild. It blends historical gothic fantasy with a dark and twisted take on the fae that I really loved. It’s told from the perspective of Catherine Helstone, a young woman who journeys to the land of Arcadia after her missionary brother goes missing while trying to convert the fae to Christianity. I believe Jeannette Ng is a theology scholar too, and she used that expertise, well, expertly in this book. A masterwork of claustrophobic gothic fiction. Honourable mentions to Phil William’s Under Ordshaw and Storm Front by Jim Butcher, both of which have very fun fae characters, if on the opposite side of the spectrum to the ones Jeannette Ng dredged up out of their nightmares.

Mary II

Mary was the daughter of James II and his first wife, Anne Hyde, and, most importantly for the English people, she wasn’t Catholic. She married William of Orange in 1677 and became heir presumptive when her uncle, Charles II, died without any legitimate children eight years later. She and William deposed her father in 1688, in what is known as the Glorious Revolution, and ruled England, Scotland and Ireland together, so choose a book written by more than one author…

For this one I’m gonna pick an older book that I finally picked up very recently: Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. I was reminded of it while reading a review of Rick Claypool’s The Mold Farmer, where it was mentioned as possibly providing some of the inspiration for Claypool’s dystopian alien-visited near future Earth. It ended up being not at all what I expected, but I loved it all the same. I dunno why, but in my head I thought it was gonna be some kind of proto-New Weird, Vandermeer-esque bizarro alien fiction, but actually it ended up reading more like if Raymond Chandler turned The Big Sleep into science fiction, with stripped back prose and a no-frills, no-nonsense main character in Red Schuhart very reminiscent of crime noir. Haven’t fully parsed my thoughts about it yet cos it’s quite a complex and layered story, but hoping to review it soonish.

Anne, Queen of Great Britain

Anne was Mary’s younger sister and inherited the throne when Mary and William died without an heir. During her reign the Acts of Union were passed in the Scottish and English Parliaments, making Anne the first monarch of Great Britain and Ireland, so choose a book that fits into more than one genre…

Oh man, I’m def gonna hoot from the rooftops here about Saga, a graphic novel series I finally started reading a few weeks back. Is it science fiction? Is it fantasy? Is it both? It’s both. It’s set in the far future with a colonised galaxy and alien races and all that juicy space opera goodness, but there’s also magic and ghosts and all other kinds of crazy stuff going on. At it’s heart it kinda feels like Star Wars meets Romeo & Juliet as it tells the story of Alana and Marko, husband and wife from two alien races on opposite sides of a galaxy-spanning war who are trying to raise their newborn baby, Hazel, while being hunted by government agents and bounty hunters across the cosmos. I reviewed this recently too and I assure you that review glowed with the gleam of a radioactive Mr Burns roaming the woods at night.

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4 thoughts on “The Stuart Queens Book Tag

Add yours

    1. I’m not generally a prolific tag-doer but every now and then one catches my eye, and this is by far the best one I’ve ever seen.

      Yessss Prosper’s Demon is so good! It was the first K. J. Parker book I read and it got me champing at the bit to read more of his stuff.


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