As the mother of three teenagers, I am very thankful for accessible
and interesting biographies and the authors who write them. Marjorie
Bowen has written two such biographies on William of Orange, considered
today to be the father of Europe because he championed Protestant
freedom in an era when the Catholic church had a firm grip on government
and the freedoms of the common man.
Often, heavy historical subjects can come across to teen readers
and adults alike as dry and one-dimensional, but Marjorie Bowen
effectively brings her subjects to life, showing them as real people
dealing with the complexities of their age. The story has good
tension and action, which moves the story along, even across both
volumes. In the excerpt below, Bowen paints a picture of Margaret
of Parma, sister of Philip II, the Roman Catholic king of Spain.
The description allows the reader to understand the emotions of
Catholic supporters of the day:
Margaret was silent, her eyes narrowed with anger. Her sincere
convictions were with the Cardinal. As an ardent Catholic, she
loathed heretics; as a grateful subject of her brother, she wished
to obey his wishes. She was loyal, industrious, and ambitious to
render a good account of her charge. She believed the men before
her, and those whom they represented, to be greedy, jealous self-seekers,
and she despised them as mere worldly courtiers; but to the Prince
of Orange's argument she was obliged to listen. . . .
She stood eyeing them all; her hand on her hip, her head well
It's good literature, and definitely worth adding to your stack
of historical fiction to boost your knowledge of both William of
Orange and the Protestant Reformation. Additionally, both volumes
contain a good amount of black-and-white etchings and period paintings,
all of which I found myself studying as I grew to like and dislike
All in all, Prince and Heretic: A Novel on William the Silent and William,
By the Grace of God make for solid and interesting reading
that will help to cement facts about William of Orange and the
world in which he lived firmly in a reader's mind.