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The French Executioner

(French Executioner #1)

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  528 ratings  ·  63 reviews
It is 1536 and the expert swordsman Jean Rombaud has been brought over from France by Henry VIII to behead his wife, Anne Boleyn. But on the eve of her execution Rombaud swears a vow to the ill-fated queen: to bury her six-fingered hand, symbol of her rumoured witchery, at a sacred crossroads.

Yet in a Europe ravaged by religious war, the hand of this infamous Protestant i
Hardcover, 391 pages
Published 2001 by McArthur & Company
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3.74  · 
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 ·  528 ratings  ·  63 reviews

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Nov 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

If you're anything like me, you're looking at the cover of C.C. Humphreys' The French Executioner and stifling a groan. Titles like Wolf Hall, Bring Up the Bodies, To Die For, The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn, The Lady in the Tower, The Dark Rose, Dark Eyed Queen, The Concubine, The King's Secret Matter, Murder Most Royal, and The Other Boleyn Girl are flashing through your mind and you're seriously questioning if you've the
Dawn (& Ron)
May 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Dawn (& Ron) by: C.W.
Both Ron and I read this, he in October 2009 giving it 3-1/2 stars, and I read it in December 2008 giving it 2008. I originally purchased this as an historical fiction read about Anne Boleyn and was surprised to find that that really wasn't the case. Yes, she is featured, or more appropriately a body part is. This is integral to the story but as the reason for the quest and adventure of the main character, Boleyn's executioner Jean Rombaud, and his cohorts. Instead of being disappointed by this, ...more
Jul 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
As a fan of this authors writing voice, I was very happy to see that this series is now being offered in eCopy. Even after reading the synopsis, I was pleasantly surprised by the plot, and especially by the characters. This is not your average historical fiction and that, at least for me, was very good.

I’ve read so many Tudor historical fictions that sometimes I think I’m way too familiar with the subject. Well, color me happy with this story!

As much as I find Anne Boleyn’s character intriguing
Apr 11, 2011 rated it liked it
I picked this novel up based on the description on its back cover that I found intriguing. I also picked it up thinking that it was historical fiction. The latter expectation led me to slight dissappointment when the story turned out to be more fantastical than historical, but, nevertheless, I did find myself enjoying the beginning part of the novel.

Unfortunately, after a nice beginning, the story seemed to lose its focus and it seemed stretched thinner than it should have - delaying the final c
Dec 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The French Executioner was a fascinating epic set in Medieval Europe. I was swept into the plot from the first page. The remarkable cast of characters, vivid settings, the exciting naval and land battles, and plot twists propelled the story along. The historical, social, cultural, political, and religious themes made this work even more delightful.
Sarah Miers
Nov 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
I did not really expect to like this book so much -- it's a swashbuckler with a swirl of the supernatural, focused on a severed six-fingered hand. I loved it, though. The characters are amazing -- the plot is really fascinating -- and it's also quite funny. A great, fun, read.
Feb 22, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. I found this book more and more intriguing as it went on. Looking forward to hearing the author talk about it at our book club meeting.
Oct 14, 2014 rated it liked it
I was intrigued by the synopsis of this book and I will admit that I have enjoyed several other books by the author. I will admit that I found it a bit removed from most Tudor fiction and in some ways that was good and in others it was not. I do know that it is probably the book with the words "six fingered hand" mentioned most often and it would provide great drinking game opportunities - yes, the phrase appears that frequently. It was starting to distract me from the plot.

All six fingers aside
Wasn't sure I would enjoy this book. I have to say I was thoroughly pleased with the story line and the depth of the characters. What an interesting look at the world of an executioner. I have often wondered what type of person could behead someone just for pay. Jean, Anne Boleyn's executioner, is a very likeable man. Every character is coming from a totally different background, to help Jean keep his promise to Queen Anne, to bury her six-fingered hand at the crossroads in France. The action is ...more
Mar 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Refreshingly . . . MUCH better than I expected. I suggest skipping to the very back and reading the "Author's Notes" section. There are some definitions there that greatly enhance the text. I'm glad I happened upon that because it would have been boring to rehash the text just to incorporate those pieces of trivia.

Too bad the second half is not available yet. Reminds me of Kill Bill, and like Kill Bill, these two would make an excellent movie.
Apr 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Debs by: Nella
I found this book a bit difficult to get into at first but it grew into quite a page turner and in the end I was surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did. It's a fast paced action-adventure with a lot of twists and turns, and despite occasional difficulties in trying to keep track of all of its intricacies, it kept me wildly entertained. The characters are fun and likable and make me want to go out and grab a sword and/or a pirate hat!
Mark Smith
Jun 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Full of action and plot twists--an excellent adventure. Though not a teen protagonist, there is a teen character who joins forces with the adult protagonist, and there is no sex/language/intensely "mature themes" that would give a parent pause about this book. Just good old fashioned danger and mayhem.
nikkia neil
Oct 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Wow! This is an adventure book. Its all action all the time! Very exciting and fun!
Jun 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was a very interesting book about what most people would think is an insignifcant person in history.

King Henry VIII may have been disillusioned with his second wife Anne Boleyn, for not producing a male heir and furious about the rumours of her transgressions, however he was prudent enough to make her execution as swift as could be.
He sent to France for Jean Rombaud. A man renown for his excellent skill of chopping off heads.

Rombaud's life after knowing Queen Anne for just a couple of days
Alistair Stewart
May 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Quite the romp! This was a ton of fun from beginning to end. It was generally much lighter than I had expected when I picked it up but then it goes to some very dark places. It's a bit like an R-rated Princess Bride. Either way it was a terrific page-turner that Kelly me enthused throughout. I'm quite Keen to check out some other titles by C.C Humphreys now.
Dick Dubay
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This is a great story. Very entertaining. Great characters and a great storyline. I would recommend this to anyone that enjoys historical fiction and a great story with plenty of action.
Nov 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Originally published at Reading Reality

If this were a contemporary novel, it would probably fall under the heading of “magical realism” but it isn’t so it doesn’t. Instead, it’s a historical novel in which magic happens, but it’s the kind of magic that is the result of the power of human belief; and in the mid-1500s, people did believe in magic and miracles.

Also in demons and black masses, but every silver lining has its cloud.

This is also not a book about Anne Boleyn, although her spirit certai
Mar 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
I met C.C. Humphreys and he signed this book before I went home and devoured it in 2 days.
The impressive thing about The French Executioner was that, even though it takes place after Anne’s beheading, I found an entirely unique characterization of her. Humphreys presents an Anne who even her executioner willingly recognizes and idolizes as his queen, but she’s not the manipulative, political strategist seen in other interpretations. Nor is she an innocent, necessarily, a mere pawn in her father’
Jan 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads, reviewed
Anne Boleyn has an audience with her executioner the night before she is to lose her head. She requests that he also remove her hand, the infamous six-fingered hand, take it to a crossroads in the Loire Valley and bury it there. She wishes to keep it out of the hands of those who would use it for their own ends after her death. This is a historical novel--Anne Boleyn did exist, the second wife of Henry the VIIIth, history says she did have six fingers on one hand, the sign of a witch. A Frenchma ...more
Sep 15, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed
Originally published at: A Girl that Likes Books

I asked and received this book through NetGalley for free. This review is not sponsored nor influenced in anyway. Thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark for the book.

First impression

I am a sucker for historical fiction, particularly for the Tudors. I don't know what it is, but I really enjoy reading about that particular time. I requested this book knowing that Anne Boleyn wouldn't be the main character but rather Jean Rombaud, her executioner. I was utter
Rachel T
As reviewed for The Reading Cafe 20 Oct 14

4 out of 5 for this reader folks!

WELL .... that was quite different from what I expected and what I have ever read before. When I read the synopsis I figured out that this was not going to be a traditional "Tudor" historical fiction, but I still wasn't expecting such a far fetched, rich, magical adventure that I discovered. This isn't a negative remark in any sense as many love the art of fantasy fiction and it is brilliant to take such a well known chun
Mar 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Jean Rombaud is renowned for his skill as an executioner. His services are called in when the person to be executed is shown some mercy, for his stroke is sure and strong and there is no suffering as in the many botched executions. He is called to England to serve as the executioner for the English queen, Anne Boleyn.

Jean goes to visit Anne the night before the execution to reassure her. He finds her stoic and ready for her death, but she has one request. She asks that he take her hand with its
Jan 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tudor-wife-2

Well… that was weird.

It reminded me of a lot of the late 1970’s sword and sorcery movies. You know – the large cast, the overabundance of crazy set pieces, the cheesy costumes, the mix and match of history, the science and magic blended together, the occasional appearance of demons using the early CGI wire frames, the comedy and tragedy, and overall a crazy hodgepodge that doesn’t make a lot of sense, but is just the definition of Cult Classic.

Here, we got it all. Ghosts, demons, virgin sacrifi
Scott Haraburda
Goodreads First Reads Giveaway Book.


The French Executioner is an English historical fiction about the adventures of the Frenchman who executed Anne Boleyn, one of the wives of Henry VIII, as he tries to keep he promise he made her shortly before executing the former queen.

The story was filled with many interesting characters, both good and bad ones. The descriptions of the scenery and the people were well-written. However, I had a difficult time believing tha
Zee Monodee
Oct 02, 2014 rated it liked it
This was an epic, riotous romp through 16th century France. CC Humphreys writes with a very evocative style and prose that puts you right into the scene. Even though the POV is not very deep - the words actually skim the surface of the characters and focus more on their actions - this in no way affects the read and simply just 'works' and flows with the way Mr. Humphreys puts the words on the page.

I did slug through the opening scene - it was hard to grasp who's who and even to remember who is w
Nov 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Although this novel is set during the Tudor era, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the main focus of the story was the Jean Rombaud. The story centers around Anne Boleyn’s 6th finger, which the executioner cut off at her request at the moment of beheading, and in which she wanted him to bury it in a secret place in France within a set period. But the finger is stolen by an Archbishop who witnessed the execution for his own greedy purposes. Honor bound to his promise to the dead queen, ...more
Renee Wiedmeyer
Feb 10, 2017 rated it liked it
It didn't have the depth of other historical fiction but brought together multiple historical events that were occurring simultaneously. A little more sci-fi then I like my historical fiction to be.
Reeca Elliott
Sep 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle-app
I have read many novels about Anne Bolelyn and this time period. I have never read one from the executioners point of view. Jean Rombaud, Anne Bolelyn's executioner, is a fascinating character with a fantastic history.

This winding tale sends you through so many dungeons and galley ships, to ambushes, sea battles and torture. It was a little heavy on the battle scenes. I tend to read quickly through those parts. I just want to see who wins and not how the battle was won.

The da
Definitely an entertaining, action-packed adventure. Set during the reign of Henry VIII, it follows Jean Rombaud, a French executioner brought to England to execute Anne Boleyn. Jean is asked by Anne to also cut off her hand, her six-fingered hand and bury it at a crossroads somewhere in France. And so his adventure begins. The hand has mystical powers and is stolen by a mad Catholic Archbishop. Jean gathers a group of friends as he journeys across Europe to retrieve the hand, getting involved i ...more
Nov 04, 2014 rated it did not like it
I am a huge Tudor fan and I was thrilled to be asked to read and review this book. It started out really interesting, not your typical Anne Boleyn book. This book is about the swordsman who killed Anne not really about her, and the desire for her hand because it is believed to have six fingers on it.
For me, this book has to be one of the worst books I've read, and I have read a lot of books. The ridiculous sexual references were not needed in my opinion, an entire chapter devoted to "Orgies" wit
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aka Chris Humphreys

Chris (C.C.) Humphreys was born in Toronto, lived till he was seven in Los Angeles, then grew up in the UK. All four grandparents were actors, and since his father was an actor as well, it was inevitable he would follow the bloodline.

Chris has performed on stages from London's West End to Hollywood in roles including Hamlet, Caleb the gladiator in NBC's AD-Anno Domini', Clive P

Other books in the series

French Executioner (2 books)
  • The Curse of Anne Boleyn (French Executioner #2)