Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace
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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Historical Novel Review: The Tudor Secret, by C.W. Gortner

If you're looking for an action packed, Elizabethan book that encompasses everything there is to love about Tudor fiction: intrigue, scandal, betrayal, secrets, and those famous historical figures we all love, than you've got to check out, The Tudor Secret by C.W. Gortner!

This book is supposed to be the first in a new series, THE ELIZABETH I SPYMASTER CHRONICLES. I can't believe I have to wait until next year to read book two... I would like to read it now!

About the book: (from the author's website)

The era of the Tudors was one of spies, intrigue, conspiracy, and danger. . .

Summer, 1553: Brendan Prescott, an orphan reared in the household of the powerful Dudley family, is brought to court, where he finds himself sent on an illicit mission to King Edward VI’s brilliant, enigmatic sister, Princess Elizabeth.
But soon Brendan is compelled to work as a double agent by Elizabeth’s protector, William Cecil—who promises in exchange to help him unravel the secret of his own mysterious past.

A dark plot swirls around Elizabeth's quest to unravel the truth about the ominous disappearance of her seriously ill brother, King Edward VI. With only a bold stable boy and audacious lady-in-waiting at his side, Brendan plunges into a ruthless gambit of half-truths, lies, and murder.

Filled with the intrigue and pageantry of Tudor England, The Tudor Secret brings this world to life from a new perspective, telling the story of a spy who becomes the protector of England's future queen. (NOTE: The Tudor Secret is a new edition of The Secret Lion, with an additional new scene and some editorial polish.)

Griffen Trade Original, St Martin's Press (Trade paperback, 336 pages)

ISBN-10: 0-312-65850-8
ISBN-13: 978-0-312-65850-2

My Review:

From the beginning, the book hooks with the atmosphere of Elizabethan England, the horse ride, the entering of London, the people rioting. The author chose the perfect place to start the book.  The only thing I found confusing was the boy, Brendan, who is actually a man of twenty, I thought was much younger, but I think that is only because the steward kept referring to him as a boy and his thoughts came off as young. It soon becomes apparent that he is actually a grown man. This story had an underlying plot of a young man growing into manhood. Brendan starts out naive and young, and then with each ensuing event/action, he grows. We watch him blossom into a confident, strong, loyal man. And in the process he also discovers love, and to a woman who is independent and a warrior in her own right.

The book is action packed and never drags. Defeintiely a page-turner! Brendan is tossed into court and immediately dragged into the plots and intrigues of the Dudley's--his employers, and that of Cecil--who is simultaneously working for Elizabeth and Edward--and helping Mary on the side.

I feel like the author really did a good job of portraying the historical figures, and I could really see them the way I imagine them to have been.

This was a different sort of Tudor book than what I usually read, (books based on actual events/people) and I enjoyed it. Mr. Gortner, using a great deal of creativity, gave us a fictional hero and a fictional plot, but he weaved it so well into the history, that if I hadn't known it was fiction, I would have believed this story actually happened. Kudos to the author for that! Weaving fiction into history is no easy feat, and it takes a true artist to do it to seamlessly. I have not read any other Gortner books, but I will certainly be seeking them out now. I highly recommend The Tudor Secret!

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