Posted By Claire on July 25, 2013
I’d been looking forward to book two of The Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles coming out since being completely gripped by the first book, “The Tudor Secret” – click here to read my review of that one. Just like the first book, this book has all the right ingredients for historical fiction lovers: intrigue, danger, spies, secrets, Tudor life and real historical characters. It also has romance and friendship, so it wins all round.
In the first book of the series, the reader was introduced to foundling Brendan Prescott who’d been brought up in the household of the powerful Dudley family. Brendan was swept into the events of summer 1553 – the rise and fall of Lady Jane Grey – and had acted as a double agent. This book follows straight on from that story. Mary I is now Queen and is planning on marrying Philip of Spain, a plan which is very unpopular in certain quarters, and Brendan, who is now living the quiet life away from court intrigue, is pulled right into the middle of it all. Brendan is forced to go back to court when he learns that his friend, Elizabeth Tudor, is in danger. Can Brendan keep Elizabeth safe from the paranoid Mary I and those who choose to feed the Queen’s paranoia? Can he balance keeping the Queen’s trust and serving Elizabeth? Can he keep himself and his friends safe in a court where plots are everywhere?
I don’t want to give any more of a synopsis and spoil the story, but it really is a thrilling read and is incredibly well researched. As I said in my review of the first book, Gortner is a talented wordsmith and like C J Sansom, one of my other favourite authors, he has the gift of bringing the past and places to life. His descriptions of places and people are so vivid that you really are transported to that world, with all its sights and sounds. He also makes you empathise with the characters. Brendan Prescott is a wonderful character and the reader can’t help but root for him from start to finish, even when he does make a stupid mistake.
A gripping story that will make the perfect holiday read. I do hope book 3 doesn’t take too long to come out!
Blurb from Amazon
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.