Advance reader reviews of The Tudor Secret by C. W. Gortner.

The Tudor Secret

The Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles

By C. W. Gortner

The Tudor Secret
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2011,
    352 pages.

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There are currently 43 member reviews
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  • Patricia S. (Chicago, IL)


    The Tudor Secret
    The Tudor Secret is C.W. Gortner’s first novel, although not his first published, which I got as an ARC from BookBrowse. It’s set in an interesting time in Tudor history, the tense period surrounding young King Edward VI’s death and his sister Mary’s successful bid for the throne. Most of the story focuses on Elizabeth, but there are scenes with Mary and Lady Jane Grey. The hero of the story, Brenden Prescott, a bastard foundling the Dudleys have raised, is brought to court as a squire for John Dudley, and quickly, almost too quickly, becomes involved in the spying and secrets of the court. I found Brenden interesting, but there wasn’t enough time for the story to be reasonable, in my opinion. In about 2 weeks or less, Brenden falls in love, becomes a trusted confidant of Princess Elizabeth and King Edward’s friend and body servant, is recruited by Cecil as a spy, becomes a secret messenger for both Cecil and Queen Mary, and discovers the secret of his noble birth. While I enjoyed the story, this was just too much to be believed. Who would trust such an unknown with such dangerous secrets? I also found some of the characterization unbelievable, especially the Dudleys. They were all such monsters, and given Elizabeth’s relations with Robert and her intelligence, I found it hard to believe he had no redeeming qualities, but this book shows otherwise. Between the broad characters and the breathless pace, it shows as a first novel. It is the first in a series, so hopefully, the others will improve. I found Gortner’s second novel, The Last Queen, much better and so am looking forward to the next one.
  • Mary D. (Claremont, CA)


    The Tudor Secret
    A fast-paced look at Tudor England, after the death of Henry VIII. Very detailed in descriptions of the court, relationships, intrigue among people that are trying to hide the impending death of Edward VI. A good read for anyone interested in this period of English history, with a focus on Elizabeth as a young girl, whose place in the court is uncertain, while the powers behind Jane Grey put her on the throne and then Mary assumes her rightful place. And of course, the character of Brendan Prescott, whose familial line is not what everyone thinks!
  • Deborah J. (Rockville, MD)


    The Tudor Secret
    I enjoyed this book and it's "what if" twist to the plot, which moved quite rapidly. In fact, one of my only criticisms is that it was difficult for me as a reader to believe the abbreviated time line in the book -- how so much could happen in such a short period of time was confusing, to say the least. It also did not lend itself to what I would consider adequate character development, especially for Brendan Prescott.

    It was, however, a quick and enjoyable read. I have read a great deal of historical fiction and I think that anyone with even a moderate knowledge of the historical period involved would enjoy the "what if" twist of the historical events.
  • Deborah M. (Chambersburg, PA)


    Flawed, but Still a Fairly Good Read
    I love historical fiction but am not a big fan of mysteries, so I wasn't sure how well I would like 'The Tudor Secret.' Overall, it was a fast and fun read, but the novel has many flaws that make it less enjoyable than it might otherwise be. The pacing was uneven, the narrative often repetitious, and Brendan's quick admittance into high circles was unbelievable. For example, the same day he arrives at court, having just been raised from his position as stable boy to valet, he strolls the garden alone with Princess Elizabeth. It just wouldn't happen. I also found the love affair weak: once minute Kate treats Brendan like a foolish boy and the next they are romping in bed. Worst of all for me was the two-layered "secret" as to why Brendan's parentage had been hidden. I know that it's fiction, but even fiction has to seem like it could be true. Neither what Cecil tells Brendan nor what he intuits for himself could ever have happened. (I can't say why without giving away the plot, but trust me, a scholar of the period: it just wouldn't have happened.) This wasn't a terrible book, just nothing I'd recommend to anyone who knows a bit about the period.
  • Deb Y. (Blanco, TX)


    Tudors - Love Them or Hate Them
    I personally really enjoyed this book, another take on Elizabeth I and her history, written in the first person, purportedly by Brendan Prescott, an orphan reared by the powerful Dudley family, who has been sent on an illicit mission to the king's sister, the then Princess Elizabeth. I am a sucker for the Tudors, the first person narrative, and historical novels - hence, a hat trick for me in this book. Another don't miss it........
  • Carol G. (Little Egg Harbor, NJ)


    The Tudor Secret
    As a lover of historical fiction and mystery, this book fit the bill. I have not read this author previously but look forward to the continuing books in this series. The book was enjoyable, and with plenty of twists. Although a complicated period of history, the author brought the characters to life in such a way for the readers to discover a world apart from the royalty of that time. I also plan to read The Other Queen.
  • Barbara O. (Maryland heights, US)


    The Tudor Secret
    The author writes an engaging story seamlessly fitting in a fictional character to historical fact. There are a lot of recognized authors in this genre and it's my opinion that C.W. Gortner deserves to be among them.

    Brendan Prescott is an inexperienced young man, forced to grow up quickly in a short period of time. He's an engaging hero, hapless and lucky with good supportive characters both real and fictional that give credence to the tale. Underlying the main story is a believable premise that sets the stage for the birth of the earliest known "secret agents", the famous Cecil and Walsingham so important to Queen Elizabeth during her reign.

    Highly entertaining, recommend especially to lovers of good historical fiction.
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