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    Contemporary observers described the young king in glowing terms.
    At over six feet tall, with rich auburn hair, clear skin, and a
    slender waist, he was, to many, "the handsomest prince ever
    seen." From this starting point in Henry VIII, the King and His
    Court, biographer extraordinare Alison Weir reveals a Henry VIII
    far different from the obese, turkey-leg gnawing, womanizing
    tyrant who has gone down in history. Henry embodied the
    Renaissance ideal of a man of many talents--musician, composer,
    linguist, scholar, sportsman, warrior--indeed, the Dutch humanist
    Erasmus (not a man inclined to flattery) declared him a
    "universal genius." In scholarly yet readable style, Weir brings
    Henry and his court to life in meticulous, but never tedious,
    detail. Weir describes everything from courtly fashions to
    political factions and elaborate meals to tournament etiquette.
    Along the way she offers up charming--if all too brief--glimpses
    of Henry's court: tiny Princess Mary, still a very young girl, at
    her betrothal ceremony saying to the proxy, "Are you the Dauphin
    of France? If you are, I want to kiss you"; Henry weeping with
    joy as he held his long-awaited son and heir for the first time;
    Henry showing off his legs to the Venetian ambassador ("Look
    here! I have also a good calf to my leg"); Henry's courtiers
    dressing in heavily padded clothes to emulate--and flatter--their
    increasingly stout monarch. She also reveals some surprises, for
    example, that Henry and Katherine were still hunting together as
    late as 1530, even though Henry was desperately trying to have
    their marriage annulled. Weir also describes surprisingly happier
    times in their relationship; Henry loved to dress up in costume,
    and "was especially fond of bursting in upon Queen Katherine and
    her ladies in the Queen's Chambers.... Henry took a boyish
    delight in these disguisings and Katherine seemingly never tired
    of feigning astonishment that it was her husband who had
    surprised her." Henry's queens receive relatively little
    attention here (for them, see Weir's excellent Six Wives of Henry
    VIII), but this book is fascinating and a joy to read. Alison
    Weir has done it again. --Sunny Delaney