In the Shadow of the King

In the Shadow of the King by Deborah O'Toole is a semi-fictional account of the dramatic life of Sir Francis Bryan, confidant to King Henry VIII.


"In the Shadow of the King" by Deborah O'Toole

Coming in 2023!

Sir Francis Bryan was a man of letters who distinguished himself as a cipher, diplomat, poet, sailor and soldier. He was also knight bannerette, chevalier, Lord of the Tor Bryan, chief gentleman of the privy chamber, Lord Chief Justice of Ireland and a gifted sportsman. He lost an eye during a jousting tournament and forever after wore a rakish eye patch, which merely added to his allure.

During his time in Henry VIII's court and one of the few who escaped the King's wrath, Bryan was dubbed the "one-eyed Vicar of Hell" by the King's chief minister, Thomas Cromwell, because of his apparent lack of scruples and legendary sexual exploits. Bryan had a well-earned reputation as a self-indulgent libertine, and was said to have been a willing accomplice in the King's tangled love affairs.

Bryan's irresistible charm masked an inveterate intriguer full of barely-contained energy. He could be duplicitous, manipulative and promiscuous as well as highly articulate, ferociously witty and generous when the mood struck him. In videlicet, he was the perfect courtier. Many observers were astounded by the familiarity he used towards Henry VIII, especially in speaking his mind. However, Bryan was no creature of principle. By bending his opinions to fit the King's policy, he managed to remain in favor throughout Henry VIII's reign.


In the Shadow of the King brings to life the story of Sir Francis Bryan, as told by one of his descendants in the twenty-first century.

Click here to read multiple excerpts from In the Shadow of the King.

"In the Shadow of the King" Information


* Storyline, estimated completion date and book cover art may be subject to change. Check back for updates.


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The official website for "In the Shadow of the King."

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Proposed front and back covers for "In the Shadow of the King" by Deborah O'Toole. Click on image to view larger size in a new window.

Click here to read excerpts from "In the Shadow of the King."

Excerpts from "In the Shadow of the King" by Deborah O'Toole.

Book Details & Extras

Book cover image: Original painting by Hans Holbein (1498-1543). The image is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 100 years or fewer. The image is also in the public domain in the United States because it was published (or registered with the United States Copyright Office) before January 1, 1925. Reproduction for use on a book cover is therefore also considered to be in the public domain in the United States.

Source for back cover rendering of Sir Francis Bryan: Chewings72, August 2022. Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. Based on a fictional character known as Hannibal in the Transformers Universe MUX game. Text fonts: Lora, Seaker and Tryst.

Crown & Quill logo: Royalty-free usage per Dreamstime. Photo by Tomert; edited by Webs Divine.

*Book cover & logo design: Webs Divine.