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The Queen's Bastard Hardcover – April 19, 1999

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing; 1st edition (April 19, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559704756
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559704755
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,395,000 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Maxwell's second novel (after The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn) breathes extraordinary life into the scandals, political intrigue and gut-wrenching battles that typified Queen Elizabeth's reignAas seen through the eyes of Arthur Dudley, the man who may have been the illegitimate progeny of the Virgin Queen and her beloved Master of the Horse, Robin Dudley. Arthur's first-person narration is cleverly juxtaposed with third-person dramatization of significant events in the queen's life, bringing an intricate authenticity to the possibility that Elizabeth gave birth to a bastard son. Maxwell's research examines the biographical gaps in, and documented facts about, the queen's life, making this incredible tale plausible, and the author aptly embellishes her story with rich period details and the epic dramas of the late 16th century. Switched at birth with a baby's corpse by a lady-in-waiting who foresaw the disastrous political consequences of a royal bastard, the infant is raised in the English countryside, where he is abused by his adoptive mother. Only his adoptive father, Robert Southern, knows his true background, and it is only when Southern lies dying that he reveals the secret to Arthur. The circumstances leading to Arthur's reunion with his father and finally his mother range from the young man's military training in Wales and encampment in the Netherlands to his post as a spy in France, Italy, Spain and Portugal, all played out against the backdrop of England's defeat of the Spanish Armada. The novel falters only with an abundance of references to Anne Boleyn's diary (coy allusions to the author's first novel), but this minor affectation defuses none of the powerfully lascivious intersections of sexual and international politics that, combined with Maxwell's electrifying prose, here make for enthralling historical fiction.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Maxwell's second novel is a sequel that, like The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn (LJ 3/15/97), posits a historically unlikely but interesting premise. The reader is asked to believe that Queen Elizabeth I gave birth secretly to a boy, Arthur, son of Robin Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and that loyal servants tricked these parents into thinking their baby was stillborn. To save the queen's honor, Arthur was spirited away and raised by a trusted country gentleman. The story moves effectively from the royal court, where Elizabeth continually thwarts Dudley's proposals of marriage, to the country, where Arthur, ignorant of his lineage, grows to be an excellent horseman and cavalry officer. Set against the historical backdrop of England's antipathy with Spain over its brutal war against the Dutch, the novel provides authentic details of hardships endured both by soldiers and towns under siege. Although created out of "what if" whimsy, the book is well-researched and laced with plausible dialog and absorbing narrative. The success of Maxwell's first book and a revived interest in the Elizabethan age make this novel highly recommended for fiction collections.ASheila M. Riley, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, DC
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Robin Maxwell began writing novels about the historical figures she had been obsessing about since graduating from Tufts University with a degree in Occupational Therapy. Her first novel, "The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn," now in its 24th printing, won two YA awards and has been translated into fourteen languages. "The Wild Irish" - an epic tale of Ireland's rebel queen, Grace O'Malley - closed out her Elizabethan Quartet, and is now in development for a television series. "Signora Da Vinci" and "Jane: The Woman Who loved Tarzan" are tales of the remarkable women behind two of the world's most beloved wildmen - Maestro Leonardo and Lord Greystoke. Robin lives with her husband of thirty years, Max Thomas, at High Desert Eden, a wildlife sanctuary in the Mojave Desert.

Customer Reviews

The author has done an excellent job of this in this novel to make a very interesting alternative history story.
K. Maxwell
(49-50) I don't have much respect for historical fiction that blatantly disregards facts to make the book more exciting for modern audiences.
Rodney Burton
I highly recommend it to anyone whether they have a specific interest in the period or not, it is an excellent book.
A. Flowers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 30, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I loved this novel! Robin Maxwell is a master stroyteller and has triumphed with this book. I started reading the book on Thursday and finished it Sunday, as I could not put it down! I like her premise, the plot is intelligent, her characterizations of all the historical characters is right on--I was impressed. I agree with the other reviewer who would like another novel on the further adventures of Arthur Dudley. I have immersed myself in the history of Tudor England since age 8. I have read every intelligent historical novel I could get my hands on about the period. Plus, I have a master's degree in British history. So I consider myseslf an expert on the subject. This novel was hands-down one of the best I have ever read.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Carolyn McKenzie on August 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
I love books that take history and suggest something that is not what the history books tell us, yet is presented in such a plausible manner that you cannot help but think, "What if?" "The Queen's Bastard" is such a book, suggesting as it does that a love child was born to the Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I.

I found the story fascinating, moving as it does through so many historical settings and describing them as I might have seen them then. I adore the descriptions of people, fashions, customs, meals, all of which pull the book together and enmesh the reader in the world of Elizabethan England.

I confess, my favorite summer activity is going to Renaissance Faires, and I adore the Elizabethan period, so perhaps my viewpoint is skewed. But if you are the same, grab this book for a good read, though you may wish to start with its predecessor, and read the two straight through.

Happy reading!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ellis Bell VINE VOICE on October 4, 2004
Format: Paperback
What if Queen Elizabeth had had a child with her lover, Robert Dudley? Robin Maxwell draws upon this question as she creates the character Arthur Dudley, born a (...) to the Queen and switched at birth by a lady-in-waiting. Arthur grows up in the gentrified household of the Southern family, leading a life like that of any other English boy: riding horses, going to school, and having all kinds of troubles of his own. As an adult he participates in the wars in the Netherlands, fighting against the Spanish, witnessing years of bloody battle. It is not until he is an adult, however, that Arthur learns who his real parents were, and his "memoirs" tell us about his life leading up to that momentous occasion.

This realistic novel places the life and times of Queen Elizabeth into a clear, definitive, albeit fictional, focus. Many authors have tried to recreate Elizabeth as a person, and not many can do it as easily as Robin Maxwell did here. Life at court is visibly rendered, as are the scenes in battle that Arthur Dudley witnesses.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Hippolytos on November 7, 2002
Format: Paperback
Tudor England is fascinating, and Elizabeth a worthy heroine. Whether Elizabeth was indeed the Virgin Queen is open for debate, but almost 500 years of speculation about her supposed affair with her horseman, Robin Dudley, lends a plausible air to this novel. Maxwell has done a deft job rendering Elizabeth as both majestic and at times ridiculous. Reading her interactions with her court, her relatives, and her supposed lover are an exercise in devouring truly brilliant prose. Maxwell has done well capturing Elizabeth's reign, including bits of Philip II's hatred and lust for the Virgin Queen, the troubles in the Netherlands, and the damnable Mary Queen of Scots.
The only false note here comes from the passages of Elizabeth's supposed son by Dudley, Arthur. There has been exploration and speculation regarding any illegitimate children the Queen may have had, so the idea of Arthur as her son allows a suspension of disbelief. However, the passages with Arthur as narrator are extremely dull and quite pointless. After the first few, I skipped over them entirely, and found that they were recapped almost in their entirety in the following chapters.
While "The Queen's Bastard" is a great read, and the subject has a distinct air of possibility, it is too long by almost 100 pages. Those pages from Arthur's journal are just unnecessary. Nevertheless, I did enjoy reading this novel, and am currently reading the concluding book in Maxwell's trilogy "Virgin." I heartily recommend this novel, but do take it with a grain of salt.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
I have about fifty more pages until I am done with this book; it's taken me more than a month to get to this place! I love historical fiction and devour anything about English history, so after reading "The Secret Dairy of Anne Boleyn" I couldn't wait to get my hands on this sequel (the possibility of an illegitimate royal heir is intriguing). I'm having a hard time finding the desire to read on to the ending; at this point it has dragged on so long that I just don't care. I have to agree with other reviews when they state that the chapters devoted to Arthur Dudley's dairy entries are boring. The endless descriptions of war, spying and fighting (approximately the last quarter of the book)are monotonous and just plain uninteresting. I so eagerly look forward to the chapters devoted to Elizabeth, but there are few towards the end and they almost all have to do with war. And one chapter had something to do with a weird supernatural pagan ceremony encouraging Elizabeth and Robin Dudley to have "relations" for the sake of saving England in the war-bizarre and unnecessary!! It started out well enough, but has turned into a slow-moving war epic - not my cup of tea. On a positive note, as inaccurate as many say this story is, I have learned a great deal about English history during this time. And for good measure, I probably will finish those last 50 pages...and then sell the book to a secondhand bookstore!
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