I have updated my review and giveaway policies page (now just titled Policies above). If you are entering a giveaway, please read and abide by the applicable policy.

Attention Authors! If you arrived here looking for information on the Two Sides to Every Story guest post series, see the tab at the top of the page for more info!

Search This Blog

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Book Review: The Tudor Conspiracy by C.W. Gortner


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

goodreads button

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?

My reviews of other books by this author:

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, RJ Julia (my fav indie bookstore).

The Tudor Conspiracy Tour Banner

You can follow along with the rest of the blog tour by visiting the HFVBT website or on Twitter with the following hashtag: #TudorConspiracyTour.


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. The author is certainly on a roll lately!

  2. Thanks for the great review, Heather - and I'm hiring you to be my copy-editor next time, who evidently missed that little mistake :)

    1. haha! At first I thought maybe it was intentional - like Mary had figured something out - and I really thought about that scene for a long time! Loved the book like I have all the others! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. C. W. Gortner is definitely one of my favorite authors. He has a way with words that seems to make them come alive.

    I love writing and have always wanted to be at least half as good as him.

    1. He is one of my favorites as well - the worlds he creates are so palpable. Good luck with your writing endeavors - I could never be a creative writer.


Thanks for leaving your comments! I love reading them and try to reply to all!