The Tudor Conspiracy by C.W. Gortner
Book 2 in the Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles
Paperback, 352 pages
St. Martin’s Griffin
July 16, 2013
Genre: Historical Fiction - Thriller
Source: Received for review from publisher as part of Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour
Winter 1554. Brendan Prescott, spymaster to the Princess Elizabeth, has discovered that he is connected to the Tudors by blood as well as allegiance. Though his secret is known only by a few, it could be his downfall as he is called to London to protect the princess.
Accompanied by his young squire Peregrine, he reluctantly leaves his sweetheart Kate behind - but in the city he discovers that no one is quite what they seem. What fate does Queen Mary intend for her sister? Is Robert Dudley somehow manipulating the princess, even though he is locked in the Tower? And should Brendan trust the alluring Sybilla, Mary's lady-in-waiting, who professes to be on his side?
As he tries to unravel the mysteries of the Tudor court Brendan's life will be put in danger many times, and along the way he learns more about his own past.
If you remember, when I wrote my review of The Tudor Secret in February 2011, I crowed, “Best Book of 2011!”. While this may not be my #1 favorite of 2013, it will inevitably be within my top 5 reads this year (it will be hard to beat out my love for Roses by Leila Meacham which I read a few months ago). I’m always slightly hesitant when reading the second book in a series – especially when I really enjoyed book one – but I am pleased to say that there is no sophomore slump here.
While the plotline of this novel deals primarily with the Wyatt Rebellion, which I didn’t previously know much about, the heft of the emotional plotline is the backstory of our hero, Brendan. He learns a lot about himself throughout the span of these pages and really has to grapple with emotions and various questions of conscience. These events will change him as a character is some ways I’m sure.
There was great drama and pacing of the novel – which is a strength which the author does well. While we do get to spend time with some of the favorite characters from the prior novel, more time is focused on some newer characters. I was sad about this in some ways, but the characters are well developed and I enjoyed them just as much.
My only complaint was that at times it was difficult to remember which of his two identities, Brendan was at any given time; and further, who knows him as which name. I would hazard that the author found this to be a challenge as well. At one point, Queen Mary refers to Brendan as “Mr. Prescott” when all along she and 95% of the court have only known him as Daniel Beecham (pg. 74). As neither Brendan nor any of the other characters reacted to this incorrect name, I’m assuming that it wasn’t meant to be some sort of revelation.
Overall a great second book in this series and I can’t wait for more. Gortner makes the Tudor court once again new and exciting!
Author C.W. Gortner has written several biographical novels as well as book 1 in the Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles, The Tudor Secret. You can visit the author’s website or blog for additional information about the book. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?
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