US Publication Date: July 16, 2013
St. Martin's Griffin
Hunted by a shadowy foe in Bloody Mary’s court, Brendan Prescott plunges into London’s treacherous underworld to unravel a dark conspiracy that could make Elizabeth queen—or send her to her death in C.W. Gortner's The Tudor Conspiracy
England, 1553: Harsh winter encroaches upon the realm. Mary Tudor has become queen to popular acclaim and her enemies are imprisoned in the Tower. But when she’s betrothed to Philip, Catholic prince of Spain, putting her Protestant subjects in peril, rumors of a plot to depose her swirl around the one person whom many consider to be England’s heir and only hope—the queen’s half-sister, Princess Elizabeth.
Haunted by his past, Brendan Prescott lives far from the intrigues of court. But his time of refuge comes to an end when his foe and mentor, the spymaster Cecil, brings him disquieting news that sends him on a dangerous mission. Elizabeth is held captive at court, the target of the Spanish ambassador, who seeks her demise. Obliged to return to the palace where he almost lost his life, Brendan finds himself working as a double-agent for Queen Mary herself, who orders Brendan to secure proof that will be his cherished Elizabeth’s undoing.
Plunged into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with a mysterious opponent who hides a terrifying secret, Brendan races against time to retrieve a cache of the princess’s private letters, even as he begins to realize that in this dark world of betrayal and deceit, where power is supreme and sister can turn against sister, nothing—and no one—is what it seems.
Loved it! I couldn't wait for this book to come out as it is the second in Gortner's Elizabeth I's Spymaster Chronicles. The first was published last year, and here's a link to my review. This book takes place about six months after the first, but don't worry. You do not need to have read the first book to enjoy this one. Gortner provides enough information for the reader to know what's going on without spoiling the first book or the reader feeling lost. It's not a big information dump either. It's here and there as it needs to be.
Anyway, our hero Brendan must come to Elizabeth's aid by putting himself into the service of her sister Queen Mary. Gortner does a masterful job of depicting both women with out bias and not taking sides. The reader can appreciate both sides of the sister argument. Most of the story is the spy plot, and who is aligned with who, who is spreading lies, and of course the usual tricks of the trade: secret meeting places, poison, and accusations. The horrible Dudleys play a part again, because of course, all they want is power in some form or fashion. In this respect, I think the reader can tell the author is not a fan of Robert Dudley.
How Brendan keeps his head above water is beyond me. The Tudor court is the reality show Survivor to the 1000th degree. Plotting, scheming, and lying are all everyone does, and keeping the players straight is tough. Not that the reader becomes confused, it's just that I would not have survived life at Court for sure. Brendan makes some mistakes along the way, which are understandable since he is new at all of this. However, he stays true to himself and his Princess Elizabeth.
As for plot points, I appreciated the further explanation of Brendan's background, and how that was done with a particular character. It gave me an ah moment. However, there was a death in this story that I didn't see coming, was upset about, and really hated to see. I loved that character! He was such a sweetheart and was doing well. Plus he provided a good angle to the story. Please replace in the next novel somehow.
Overall, I enjoyed this book immensely and it was so good that it ruined the other books I was reading. Seriously, I stopped reading them for good. They just don't have that excitement that this one has for me.
Hell yes! Gortner's works are engaging and he certainly knows how to draw the reader in like a fly on the wall of historical events. He puts the reader into the story without exaggerating the true events or making stuff up, like some HF writers tend to do. (You know, witch craft or sorcery or something.)
Would I change anything?
Absolutely not, except maybe not kill that character off because it made me sad.
Thanks to Amy for including me on the tour.
About the Author
C.W. Gortner holds an MFA in Writing, with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies. Raised in Spain and half Spanish by birth, he currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
He welcomes readers and is always available for reader group chats. Please visit him atwww.cwgortner.com for more information. You can also follow Christopher on Facebook and Twitter.
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