A review of Laurie R. King’s ‘The Beekeeper’s Apprentice’ chapter sixteen

The Daughter of the Voice

It is so certain, then, that the new generation… will do something you have not done?

Mary is still miserable guys.  1918 blurs into 1919 and suddenly it’s late spring. Mary is sad and isolated and doesn’t care because she’s being angsty and lonely. What happened to making all those new friends last chapter? King, why can you not remember things from chapter to chapter? Did you not plan? Well, no, you can’t have planned anything, because otherwise you wouldn’t have had an entire chapter devoted to Holmes and Russell on holiday.

Mary complains that there’s nowhere to hide the envelope Holmes gave her. She considers a safe or putting in a bank, but that would attract the attention of those people watching her. Instead, she hides it in the student library. Where anyone could find it. She sticks the envelope behind some books and says ‘oh, it’s okay, because the people watching me can’t get in!’. This doesn’t take into consideration other students coming across them, or students working for the villainess, or that the watches might just break into the library. ARGH! How many ways do I have left to say that this is stupid, and Mary is stupid, and none of this makes any sense?

Mary then spends a few pages speaking very pretentiously about thinking and the idea of ideas. It might have been interesting, if it was written well and came from a good character. But no. Just some padding, wrapped up to make Mary sound ‘deep’.

Mary is disgusted with herself, so goes out to dinner with one of those friends that she said she didn’t have.  They have a nice time and Mary gets to sleep at -gasp- sometime before midnight. That is so surprising! The early night allows Mary to have a symbolic dream.

Oh, goodie.

A shadowy face had leered at me from the bookshelf in the corner, half-hidden by blonde hair, and held out a clay piper in a twisted hand. ‘You know nothing!’ the figure cackled in a voice both male and female, and laughed horribly. His/her gnarled fist tightened over the pipe, which I knew to be one of Holmes’, and then opened.


I shot upright in terror –

No, you didn’t. It’s common fact that it’s near impossible to sit straight upright from a lying down position. Just because you see it on TV cartoons doesn’t make it real.

– with a fading image of the bookshelf in my mind’s eye. It had been a section of history, the titles all on Henry VIII.



Long-term readers of my blog will know I am studying for a history degree. My speciality and main area of interest is the early modern period, which is roughly 1485 to 1789. I am especially knowledgeable about Henry VIII and the early to mid Tudor court. So, leave Henry VIII out of your warped mock-historical terribly researched bullshit.

What was King Henry doing in front of my eyes? That obscene, gout ridden old man with his numerous wives, all of them sacrificed to his desire for sons, as if it were their fault and not that of his own syphilitic self.

Wow. Allow me, dear readers, to take a very long detour to explain why this sentence is wrong. Every part of it.

  • ‘obscene’ – in what sense?  Not sexually obscene, certainly.  While we remember Henry as a ladykiller (in more ways than one), this is a man from a time period where being sexually promiscuous or indeed, very sexually charged, was not especially accepted. Yes, innuendo and the like was rife in their culture, but Henry had an extremely religious upbringing and was very pious himself. If you mean obscene in language, Henry was known for his ‘thunderous oaths’ but obscenity in the sixteenth century was very different from what we would recognise today. Think of ‘you bull’s pizzle!’ and the such. Even so, Henry was a prince of England. He would have been trained from birth to speak eloquently and well.
  • ‘old’ – Hnery was 55 when he died. Not very old at all.
  • ‘All of them sacrificed for his desire for sons’ -while it can be argued that Henry’s six wives were all thrown out when they failed to give birth to a son, this is a overly simplistic and rather outdated point of view. Henry was a human being. He wasn’t driven by a single desire. He was a complicated character, and while we as historians can interpret his actions, there is no way to say specifically what made him behave the way he did. It is ridiculous to assign any singular cause or desire. Catherine of Aragon? A mixture of falling in love with another woman, mid-life crisis, personal religious crisis and yes, disappointment with a lack of a male heir. Oh, and the treaty with Spain was no longer needed. Anne Boleyn? Caused international difficulty, domestic problems, difference in religion, given birth to dead children (a sign of sin at the time) and he may have really fallen out of love with her. His relationship with her sister also caused legitimacy problems for any heir they may have. Jane Seymour? Died of childbed fever twelve days after giving birth. Anne of Cleves? Their marriage was not legal due to her former du futuro betrothal to a prince of France, and England no longer needed an alliance with the German Protestant states. Henry was also anxious around extreme Protestantism, and no doubt, she would have formed a figurehead for evangelicals (the correct term for Protestants in this period) in England. Who Henry despised. Katherine Howard? Cheated on Henry. Katherine Parr? Uh, she outlived Henry to die of childbed fever giving birth to Thomas Seymour’s daughter. How exactly was she ‘sacrificed’?
  • ‘his own syphilitic self’ – there is absolutely no evidence that Henry had syphilis. You are confusing him with Francis II of France.


Mary then goes out and decides to eat, because she’s been starving herself. She wolfs down some bacon (how’s that connecting to your inner Jewishness going for you, eh, Mary?) and goes to the library to read up on Henry VIII.

it was then that the voice spoke to me, and I knew.

… what voice? Are you hearing voices?

After a exceedingly long and excruciatingly long explanation of ‘this is how codes work’, Mary realises that the code of Roman numerals works in base eight.

If human beings had been born with three fingers instead of four opposing their thumbs, we would count by units of eight instead of tens.

this book keeps amazing me. i keep finding some of the stupidest lines I’ve ever read in published fiction.

The code is revealed to spell out MORIARTY.

Called it. Knew he was involved somehow.

Was our foe telling us that the purpose behind our persecution was revenge for his death? After nearly three decades.

No, she’s just dicking with him.

Mary then has a flashback to when she spoke to Holmes about Moriarty after learning about base eight in a lecture.

My maths tutor.

Wait, what? Who?

She had laid Professor Moriarty’s base eight exercises before me on the very day the bomb appeared at my door and, I knew now, three days later had slashed that string of ciphers with great precision into the seats of our cab.

How do you know that? How did you reach this conclusion? How does a maths exercise make her the suspect?

My maths tutor, Patricia Donleavy, who had left because of an unexplained illness beginning that same week.

She did? Because you never mentioned it at the time.

My maths tutor, a strong woman, a mind of great subtlety, one of the teachers I had found to learn from, who had shaped me, whose approval I cherished, with whom I had talked about my life, and about Holmes.

If you respect and like this woman so much, why have you never mentioned her at any point?

My maths tutor.

I don’t understand, how is this woman the suspect for sure, without a doubt? This has come right out of nowhere, makes no sense and has had absolutely no foreshadowing or build-up to this conclusion. It makes absolutely no sense. King is actually incapable of writing a compelling mystery that makes any logical sense. This book, even if you enjoy this abomination, does not make any logical sense.

Mary then realises that anyone might have seen the photographs of the cipher, because she didn’t exactly take any pains to hide them. She isn’t being followed any more so she starts to panic and tries desperately to get a message to Holmes. By going to her rooms. There’s a finger print on her doorknob.

‘Holmes?’ I whispered, ‘Holmes?’ and flung open the door.

I really hope your suddenly guilty and important maths tutor shoots you in the face.


One thought on “A review of Laurie R. King’s ‘The Beekeeper’s Apprentice’ chapter sixteen

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