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Summary and book reviews of The Beggar King by Oliver Potzsch

The Beggar King

A Hangman's Daughter Tale

by Oliver Potzsch

The Beggar King
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  • Paperback:
    Jan 2013, 512 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Cindy Anderson

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Book Summary

Chock-full of fascinating historical detail, The Beggar King brings to vibrant life another tremendous tale of an unlikely hangman and his tough-as-nails daughter, confirming Pötzsch's mettle as a storyteller at the height of his powers.

The year is 1662. Alpine village hangman Jakob Kuisl receives a letter from his sister calling him to the imperial city of Regensburg, where a gruesome sight awaits him: her throat has been slit. Arrested and framed for the murder, Kuisl faces first-hand the torture he's administered himself for years.

Jakob's daughter, Magdalena, and a young medicus named Simon hasten to his aid. With the help of an underground network of beggars, a beer-brewing monk, and an Italian playboy, they discover that behind the false accusation is a plan that will endanger the entire German Empire.

Chock-full of historical detail, The Beggar King brings to vibrant life another tale of an unlikely hangman and his tough-as-nails daughter, confirming Pötzsch's mettle as a writer to watch.

1
IN THE DANUBE GORGE NEAR WELTENBURG,
AUGUST 13, 1662 AD
TWENTY-FIVE YEARS LATER

THE WAVE CAUGHT JAKOB KUISL HEAD-ON AND swept him off the bench like driftwood.

The hangman reached frantically for a handhold as he felt himself slip across the raft boards, feet first, toward the gurgling, swirling river. Slowly yet inexorably, the weight of his body dragged him into the cold water. His fingernails scraped along the planks as he slid, and he could hear frantic shouts nearby, though they were muffled as if by a thick wall. He managed at last to grab hold of a carpenter's nail jutting out of a plank and was hauling himself up just as someone came sliding past him toward the churning water. With his free hand, he lunged, seizing a boy by the collar. About ten years old, the boy thrashed about and gasped for air. The hangman pushed him back into the middle of the raft, where his relieved father grabbed the boy and hugged him.

Wheezing, Kuisl crept back to his seat in the bow....

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The Beggar King is a book mainly suited for adults because it contains strong language and mature themes. However, compared to the previous books there is very little gore, even in the torture scenes. In spite of its flaws, it is a fun romp. There are plenty of red herrings, plot complications, and the change of venue provides a cast of colorful characters to keep track of.   (Reviewed by Cindy Anderson).

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Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

.. there's plenty of murder, fratricide, abortion and bad rye bread to go around. Think The Name of the Rose meets The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and you're part of the way there. A reasonably good historical thriller but without much that makes it stand out above a crowded field.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The author sustains suspense throughout, and both old and new readers will eagerly await the next volume.

Author Blurb Glenn Cooper, international bestselling author of Secret of the Seventh Son
The Beggar King is a richly appointed historical novel, a compelling tapestry of violence, intrigue, and tenderness. Pötzsch drags you into his beautifully rendered and dangerous seventeenth-century Europe and doesn't let you escape until the final climactic page.

Author Blurb James Becker, author of The Moses Stone
Twists and turns enmesh both the characters and the reader in this absorbing tale that captures, with an authenticity that is truly rare, the sounds and sights and smells of seventeenth-century Germany. A gripping story of love, betrayal, and long-delayed revenge.

Reader Reviews

SandyPineapple

Great intigue, page turner
The characters are likeable and believable for the most part. I enjoyed the story. The history of old world Germany, social status, persecution, corruption, family bonds and the executioners was very interesting.

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Beyond the Book

The Real-Life Jakob Kuisl and the Life of an Executioner

The village of Schongau in Bavaria Oliver Pötzsch spent his early years in Bavaria, listening to stories about his family from his grandmother. He says that when he was five or six, she told him that he was a direct descendant of a family named Kuisl, who were employed as executioners. He was too young then to even know what an executioner did, but it sparked a curiosity in him that never left (The Hangman's Daughter, postscript).

Using this history as a starting point, Pötzsch began creating a fictional world for Jakob Kuisl, and studying the history of Schongau as well as the role of the hangman. His aim is "to stick to the facts as much as possible. In that, he doesn't ...

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