While I really enjoyed The Tudor Secret by CW Gortner, I simply loved The Tudor Conspiracy. Picking up a short time after the events in The Tudor Secret, we find Queen Mary upon the throne and negotiations for her marriage well under way. Our hero, Brendan Prescott, and his love, Kate are embedded in Elizabeth’s household at Hatfield. Not for long. Summoned by William Cecil, Brendan has no choice but to journey to London and find employ at the royal court, feigning an allegiance to Queen Mary, the woman he once helped. Though he is sympathetic towards Queen Mary, Brendan is really at court to protect the Princess Elizabeth from the plots and cunning of not only the Spanish delegation, but even Elizabeth’s so-called friend and Brendan’s former employer, Robert Dudley who, though locked in the tower, appears to be manipulating events. With the Spaniards determined to indict Elizabeth for treason and deliver a death sentence and the Dudley’s working for their own ends, Brendan has his work cut out.
Ensconced among the courtiers, Brendan doesn’t know who to trust, or where to turn and is forced to make decisions, decisions that prove deadly and place not just his Princess at risk, but those he loves.
Fast-paced, evocative and well-written, this is a page turner par excellence that takes known history and turns it on its head in exciting and plausible ways. Cannot wait for the next instalment.
Tags: Catholicism, CW Gortner, Elizabethan times, English history, historical fiction, Protestantism, Queen Mary, The Tudor Secret, Tudor Conspiracy
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This was a strange and compelling book. When I first started reading it, I almost cast it aside as I was annoyed by what I felt was being asked of the reader: that is, too great a leap of faith when it came to the historical facts upon which Gortner drew to craft his tale. But, as the story of Brendan Prescott, an orphan raised by the powerful and influential Dudley family and elevated to personal servant of none other than a young Robert Dudley just before the death of Edward VI, progressed, I became caught up in the plot and action and found it hard to put down.
Prescott, prior to his new role was a simple stable boy who yearns for the woman who raised him but died before he reached his teens, is sent to London to serve his new master and thrust into court politic. He finds himself not merely at the centre of a huge conspiracy to alter the royal succession, but also an unwitting pawn in a deadly game that’s been played between the leading noble houses for years.
Employed by Robert Cecil to spy on his behalf and for the benefit of the young Princess Elizabeth, Brendan doesn’t trust Cecil or his dark-robed henchman, the dangerous Francis Walsingham who, rather than an ally, seems more like the assassin rumours declare. Certainly, as it becomes evident that Brendan isn’t who he thinks he is, his mission becomes as much focussed on finding out his real identity – an identity others are using not only against him, but against those they would see brought down – as it is protecting the princess. Running towards trouble and finding it at every turn, Brendan also has his loyalty tested, discovers love, friendship and how the eyes and heart can deceive in extraordinarily painful ways.
Against a backdrop of religious and political upheaval, Brendan’s inculcation into Cecil’s spy network and his own story are interwoven. The story gallops and I couldn’t read fast enough to discover what would happen. My initial misgivings about what I thought was a misuse of history were laid to rest as Gortner cleverly mingles fact and fiction, but not in a way that stretches the reader’s faith (as I’d first feared), but in order to create an utterly satisfying narrative. Will be reading the rest in the series for sure.
Tags: C.W. Gortner, Edward VI, Elizabeth 1st, Francis Walsingham, Mary, Robert Cecil, Robert Dudley, The Tudor Secret
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