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To Play the King (Francis Urquhart #2)
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To Play the King

(Francis Urquhart #2)

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  1,855 ratings  ·  120 reviews
After scheming his way to power, newly elected Prime Minister Francis Urquhart faces a crisis that could destroy his Government. But as he plots the drastic measures needed to save his political future he finds one determined man standing in the way - the idealistic new King. Urquhart will stop at nothing to cling to power. As he prepares to expose the scandalous ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 315 pages
Published 1993 by HarperCollins (first published 1992)
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Annika To Play the King is very different from the US Netflix House of Cards series, as it focuses on the relationship between Urquhart and the King, a…moreTo Play the King is very different from the US Netflix House of Cards series, as it focuses on the relationship between Urquhart and the King, a completely different system to the US system of government. Viewing the Netflix series and reading the books are completely different experiences.(less)

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Average rating 3.76  · 
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Daniel Balici
Jul 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017
I opted for this series out of curiosity, considering that it has served as a source of inspiration for the critically acclaimed and award-winning political drama TV series called House of Cards, which is one of my favourites. What is important to know is that the books focus on the politics of the United Kingdom, whereas the famous TV series centers around the politics of the United States, therefore there is a great number of differences between the two. Personally, I prefer the TV series. ...more
Matthew Tanous
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Razvan Banciu
Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Four stars ONLY for the last five pages, as "To play the King" is far under the spectacular beauty of "House of cards". The action is slower, the plot is somehow unreal, as it grows up practically from nothing: a speach. Even Urquhart is less convincing, being rather brutal than clever, a fact that turns against him, much to the readers' joy, I think.
Only one more thing, the king's words in confrontation with the prime minister:"They will no longer let a king be a man, just as they will not let
That plot twist at the very end though 😱

3.5 stars, I think, not quite sure how to rate this one.

A lot more central characters, a lot of evil planning and plotting, but not as badass as the first book. Nevertheless I really enjoyed this one, and I'm looking forward to getting to the final book in this series 😄
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
Much less satisfying than the first. Where House of Cards felt bold and Shakespearean, To Play the King felt formulaic. It was as if Dobbs was trying to recreate the magic of the first book, but chose the wrong elements to replicate. A sort of literary George's Marvelous Medicine.
Oct 08, 2016 rated it liked it
Not sure if it is because of what is happening in my own life at the moment, but I love the whole House of Cards premise.

This is the second book in the series and it hasn't lost any of the intrigue of the first book. The lead protagonist, FU, has lost none of his ability to manipulate others to further his own agendas! Pure evil!

Look forward to Book Three, the conclusion of the trilogy! Will FU be able to hold his position of power??!!
Apr 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Dobbs follows through with the second in the trilogy, picking up the thread of the plot where it left off in HOUSE OF CARDS. This new book (with its political action) moves the story away from the party leadership and into the aftermass that will keep the reader on the edge of their seat, especially for the political nut. The PM faces a fairly new Monarch who has ascended the throne, with little experience dealing with his role as constitutional monarch. Both the PM and HRH have their own ideas ...more
Jun 26, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was not a bad book I just happened to like the first one better. Urquhart and his personality really changed in this book and he kind of felt like a new character to me. In a House of Cards he loved his wife and made sure he stayed out of trouble so he could further his political career, but in To Play the King, he seemed bitter and he has changed. The plot idea is good but again not as good as the first book. The rivalry between Prime Minister and King is interesting and Dobbs does a good ...more
Sep 10, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took a turn. Where is my magnificent bastard? The strong (if not loving) relationship with his wife? (view spoiler)

Again, I can't help but compare it to the TV show that introduced me to the books in the first place. For this book it had to be different as a republic and constitutional monarchy aren't going to
Kristi | Hidden Staircase |
This is our second outing with Francis Urquhart (FU), who is now the newly elected Prime Minister, serving alongside a newly crowned King. In typical FU style, Francis already has his sites set on his next move, which is securing his position as Prime Minister by forcing a quick election to clean house. Unfortunately, the King and his views are getting in the way of this master plan. A fun novel revealing once again the deals made in politics and how easily it can be to make or break a career.
Jun 29, 2014 rated it it was ok
Woefully written. A rare example of the adaptation being infinitely better than the source material. Francis Urquhart is a fantastic character trapped within terrible prose.
Himanish Prabhakar
Sep 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: drama, thriller, mystery
First, I want to admit that I first saw the TV series then I read the book. I didn't know about the book until I saw the TV series. After watching the first episode I was keen to read the book, but I was also afraid that it may spoil the fun of TV series so I waited for seasons to finish one after another and then I read the book accordingly.

My review is 4.8 stars for the complete series.

Yeah, you read it completely right that this book is the highest ever rating I have given to any Fiction book
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Morality, Sir, is the monologue of the unexcited and the unexcitable, the revenge of the unsuccessful, the punishment of those who tried and failed, or who never had the courage to try at all.

Unlike the first one, this here had the element of surprise. The story in the beginning was almost identical to the first season of House of Cards and thankfully the similarities ended there. And therefore I didn't already knew what to expect from this book.
And yet nothing changed from the first one -
Jul 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
As happened with the first book, this one was finished quickly and gripped my attention effectively. However, there were a few moments that made me feel a bit discomforted. Most of all, it is the fact that Urquhart seems to be an entirely different person of a character than he was in the previous book. The cold, wise, intriguing and entirely calculated mind betrayed him several times in this book, in situations that I felt he would easily handle as a character of the previous one.
The ending
A Man Called Ove
Dec 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5/5 FU was elected as PM by his colleagues after he forced Collingride out. Now, he gets entangled with the monarch as his plans for early elections keep clashing with the kings. The first half and the basic idea of the plot seemed contrived and the pacing was slow but the second half made up for it.
This novel continues directly from where the previous book ended. And it maybe the only one of the three which was not used in the Netflix TV series.
Kunal Kumar
Feb 28, 2017 rated it liked it
this is second in trilogy by Dobbs with his ruthless character Urquhart. narrated nicely with a king with views & personality trying to make a mark. Urquhart as usual played well but in last was not shown as person in command of affairs.
A good read for those who like politics thriller & backroom drama. expected little more from it.
Patti Guerrero
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The King Wins

In abdicating, the King retains his manhood and sense of decency. Never in my mind has the King acted more regal than in the last few chapters. He beat and bested the polticians. I intend to start Book 3 as soon as I finish this review.
Julius Evans
Jun 19, 2019 rated it liked it
OMG, it seemed like it took FOREVER to finish this book. Not that it was that bad, but it was about the British 'empire' if you will, and it precedes the House of Cards story. I can't even say it was a wild ride. What I can say is that we aren't the only ones with issues! :-)
Seth Kaplan
Somehow it feels like this just hasnt stood the test of time, and was especially outdone by the American TV series. Parliamentary and royal intrigue perhaps, but seemed to be the same thing over and over for 300 pages. ...more
Marjorie Kubacki
Mar 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Very good political thriller, a continuation of House of Cards....think Kevin Spacey trying to manipulate the election by discrediting the royal family. I learned a lot about the interface of the House of Commons with the monarchy. The ending was abrupt and really could have been better.
Keith Millar
Feb 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Yes a good follow on with a sting at the end, as you'd expect. Not sure Michaels, literal peers would enjoy this Cromwellian challenge to the king by a sitting PM. Now looking forward to reading the last in the triology.
J M Hodgetts
Aug 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent read

Fantastic insight into the political world . I fear there is too much realism here though which is quite disturbing. Highly recommended.
Stuart Haining
Not up to the standard of book one but still a great read and interesting to weave the king into politics,
Morad Bendahhane
Jan 26, 2020 marked it as to-read
Almost perfect
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I am so used to the tv show that I didn't anticipate the twists of the one. Scandal, media and politics as usual :)
Aug 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
It is better than the first volume. The plot is maybe sometimes a little over the line, but I liked it. Great and original language, characters live, very good.
May 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Obtaining power is easier than maintaining it, at least for Francis.
Robert Nash
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant. The ease with which polling can be manipulated was educational!
Jul 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: k
This second book focused on a conflict between Francis Urquhart (the original British character upon which Francis Underwood was based) & the new King of England, so it was much more removed from any followup in the American TV series.
Alan Brindley-Taylor
Mar 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Michael Dobbs was born on the same day, in the same hour as Prince Charles in 1948.

He is the son of nurseryman Eric and his wife Eileen Dobbs and was educated at Hertford Grammar School and Christ Church, Oxford University. After graduating in 1971 he moved to the United States.

In the USA he attended the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, which he

Other books in the series

Francis Urquhart (3 books)
  • House of Cards (Francis Urquhart, #1)
  • The Final Cut (Francis Urquhart #3)

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