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The Tudor Secret (The Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles) Paperback – February 1, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Gortner's latest riveting historical (after The Last Queen), the influential Dudley family sends orphan servant Brendan Prescott to serve their cruel son, Lord Robert, at King Edward's court, and the young man is soon caught up in intrigue, suspicion, and shifting loyalties. Young King Edward is under the thumb of the Dudleys, but illness is greatly affecting his influence. Then the lion-eyed Princess Elizabeth, whom the Dudleys view as a threat, arrives and Prescott becomes a spy for her protector, William Cecil. Deeper involvement in the conspiracies surrounding the throne makes Prescott increasingly uncertain of loyalties, including his own, and he begins to question his fate and identity. In Gortner's capable hands, Prescott is a believable and enjoyable hero, a man of strong loyalties but naïve enough to be exploited. And while the Dudleys are mostly broadly drawn villains, Robert has depth, and though readers familiar with the Tudor era will know the key players, they may be surprised by their depiction here. Gortner handles action with aplomb, adding a riveting, fast-paced thriller to the crowded genre of Tudor fiction. (Feb.)
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From Booklist

In 1553, England is a dangerous place to be. King Edward is on his deathbed. Vying for the crown are Elizabeth, her half sister Mary, and their cousin, Lady Jane Grey, who is manipulated by her powerful father-in-law. Into the midst of all this drama rides Brendan Prescott, a 20-year-old orphan raised by the servants at the Duke of Northumberland’s country home. Sent to court to serve the duke’s sons, one of his first tasks is to deliver a secret missive to Elizabeth. But Brendan is soon lured by Elizabeth’s protector, William Cecil, into working for Elizabeth instead, as Cecil promises to help Brendan decipher the mystery of his parentage. Amid crosses and double crosses, Brendan realizes he has to choose a side, for the issue of succession to the throne quickly becomes a matter of life and death—and not just for the potential monarch. An exciting, vividly rendered story of intrigue and espionage. --Hilary Hatton

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Product Details

  • Series: The Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (February 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312658508
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312658502
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #205,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

C.W. Gortner holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis on Renaissance Studies from the New College of California and a degree in fashion marketing. In his extensive travels to research his books, he has experienced life in a Spanish castle and danced in a Tudor great hall. Half-Spanish by birth, his novels have been translated in over 20 languages to date.

C.W. enjoys talking to book groups. To schedule a chat or find out more about his work, visit:

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 73 people found the following review helpful By rebelmomof2 VINE VOICE on December 24, 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When you're looking for something fun to read and you're in the mood for historical fiction, but you have read a bunch of Tudor Princesses books already ... this book might fit the bill as it's not your typical Tudor book. It is a mystery and it focuses on a man this time, not a woman. It doesn't have all the richly detailed information about Tudor life in the precarious court of whomever is in charge of that time. It is a rather a simple but fun story of a foundling raised as a stable-hand in the Dudley household.

Brendan Prescott was discovered by the Dudley's herbalist and raised among the Dudley boys (including Elizabeth's favorite, Robin) to be their servant. He was sent off to London to be Robert's squire when incidentally, he was set to spy for Robert, then for Elizabeth and Cecil, her trusted advisor. This book is an adventure set in the Nine-Day reign of Lady Jane Grey and her husband, Guiliford Dudley. It is a race against time to get the right princess on the throne, a race against the Dudleys' mad grasp for power and in the whole midst of the Prescott rushing to save Mary, the heir, he discovers truth about himself and who he was exactly.

This is a fun book, definitely and one I would recommend for those times when you just don't want to be bogged down into all the details about one's dresses and all that fun stuff. It is full of intrigue and it has a different twist to it than most books set in Tudor times. I've never read this author before but after reading this one, I am definitely interested in reading his other works! It provides just enough mystery to keep the reader guessing!

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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Amanda on January 24, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Tudor Secret has a unique history. It was author C.W. Gortner's first published work, originally released a few years ago by some small independent publisher as The Secret Lion. The book, unfortunately, didn't get much attention, and didn't stay in print for very long. It wasn't until Gortner's The Last Queen that he was able to become an established author of historical fiction. After releasing a handful of historicals centered around fascinating female historical figures and building up his credibility in the publishing world, Gortner returned to The Secret Lion. Taking a more mature eye to the original, the text of Secret Lion was heavily edited and re-released as The Tudor Secret, in an attempt to garner new fans give Gortner's cherished novel a chance.

The Tudor Secret is a little different from rest of the flood of Tudor-era historicals out there. Instead of focusing on a compelling woman from history, the story instead follows the life of Brendan Prescott, the man who becomes the spymaster of Elizabeth I. Brendan is an orphan servant working as a squire in the influential Dudley household for Lord Robert Dudley. After coming to court, Brendan gets caught up in the inevitable intrigue and political plotting during the turbulent final days of King Edward VI's reign, the nine-day reign of Queen Jane Grey, and the battle for the throne between Henry VIII's two daughters and other ambitious nobles at court. While there, Brendan meets the firey young Elizabeth, whom he instantly takes a liking to. He becomes a spy for William Cecil, Elizabeth's protector. As he struggles with the dangerous politics of the British court, Brendan must juggle a strange, unexpected truth about his parents and who he is...
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By MusingCrow VINE VOICE on January 8, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am a real fan of C.W. Gortner's work and was thrilled to be given an opportunity to read and review this latest book. This volume, the first of a chronicle series, introduces us to the character of Brandon Prescott. Brandon was found as a newborn and was taken into the Dudley household by their herbalist and nurse, Alice. The Dudley family is wealthy, powerful& avaricious. Close to the boy King - Edward VI - the Dudleys have wielded their power over the throne and are poised to keep Henry VIII's daughters Mary and Elizabeth from ever reaching the throne by marrying their youngest son, Guilford, son to Lady Jane Grey (daughter of Henry VIII's sister, Mary). Jane was, of course, later called the 9 days queen - which tells you what happened to the grand Dudley scheme.

Brandon is brought up in the midst of the Dudley family; treated as an orphan and scape goat of the Dudley boys, but, when the family is away at Court, Brandon has access to the many books owned by the Dudleys and schools himself in languages and history. Suddenly Brandon finds himself packed up and on the way to Court to serve as Robert Dudley's squire as payment for his upbringing. As soon as he is presented at Court he quickly becomes embroiled in a game of power and politics. An overheard comment that he "bears the mark of the Rose" brings back the pain of not knowing who his mother. Brandon wonders what the comment - and the hidden birthmark on his thigh- mean. Does someone know who his family was? Brandon begins to search for answers to his lineage. He learns to live by his quick wits. When he is introduced to the Lady Elizabeth he quickly becomes aligned with her & aids her as she seeks to gain access to her dying brother, Edward, in order to say good-bye.
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