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The Tudor Secret: A Novel (The Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles) Paperback – February 1, 2011
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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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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
Top customer reviews
For anyone familiar with the world of the Tudors and Elizabeth I, this will feel like a family reunion of sorts with a few newly added relatives that fit seamlessly within the storyline and as effortlessly as if they were there all along in history. I will not give spoilers to the plotline, but there is plenty of action, intrigue, and tension to move the reader forward at a rapid pace. I never find myself breezing by certain passages in order to get to the good parts; all the parts are good. I love this author’s descriptive abilities as well as his use of language. A couple of the series I read on kindle, and I love being compelled to click for the dictionary on words he’s introduced me to.
This is certainly a great series that I’d recommend to any reader, whether a follower of the Tudor era or not. Gortner proves that even in his first published works, he’s a splendid talent and has continued to hone his already impressive storytelling skills.
Brendan Prescott was a foundling; he knew from a young age that he had been abandoned. He was brought up by Alice who was a mother to him until she was killed when he was still young and he had loved her dearly. Now all these years though Brendan has been raised to be a servant to the Dudley boys. When he's called to court, it's to be a squire to Robert Dudley. However, as we all know things never go as planned at court and soon Brendan finds himself in the midst of a tangled plot in which he is sent in different directions to spy and deliver messages.
Soon Brendan meets none other than the Princess Elizabeth (King Henry VIII's daughter) and is quite taken with her. There is much going on with Elizabeth's very ill brother Edward and she has demanded to see him. However, she is in much danger herself at court but being headstrong and determined, she is not one to listen to reason. There is a plot afoot to get rid of the sisters, both Elizabeth and half-sister Mary, but Brendan is determined that no harm will come to either.
Brendan is a terrific fictional character and I just loved him. Being an orphan he learned quickly to live by his own wits in addition to soaking up every bit of learning he could making him very intelligent. The court is a whole new world to him yet he is recognized early on as being smarter than your average squire. Brendan though, other than protecting the people he cares about to any lengths, wants to know who he really is. As the plot continues to thicken, more and more of where he came from and who he is begins to come to the forefront and he is eventually shocked to learn the truth of his heritage.
There are other fantastic characters though. I was particularly fond of Peregrine, the young lad who becomes like a son to Brendan. Peregrine, an orphan himself, really reminds Brendan of who he was growing up - they have a connection. Brendan too seems to be a bit of a hazard to himself and whenever left alone seems to end up in trouble so Peregrine takes it upon himself to always trail after his master. All of the characters are portrayed really well and while the book does assume you have some knowledge of Tudor history I think anyone really could pick it up and enjoy it.
C.W. Gortner states in the author's note that this novel takes the approach of 'what if'?' He took fact, fiction, rumor, deduction, and imagination to craft this story and I think he did a fabulous job. If you're looking or expect a story with accurate fictional details then this may not be for you. However, if you can just let go and take the story for what it is, you will enjoy it immensely. It's a fun spin on Tudor history and I can't wait for the next installment in The Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles. Many times reading The Tudor Secret I really felt like I was right there. C.W. Gortner has a way with words that has you living in the world he's created in his novel.