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The Tudor Secret

The Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles

by C. W. Gortner

The Tudor Secret by C. W. Gortner X
The Tudor Secret by C. W. Gortner
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  • Diane S. (Batavia, IL)
    The Tudor Secret by C. W. Gortner
    I love historical fiction and the Tudor period. This book is a worthy addition to that genre. Brendan Fraser is an foundling who ends up being raised in the Dudley household. He comes embroiled in the intrigue and conspiracies at court concerning King Edward's death and the Dudley's attempt to put Lady Jane Gray and the Dudley's youngest son on the throne, disinheriting Mary and Elizabeth. This book did a wonderful job relaying the atmosphere and characters of this time period, also adding a mystery concerning Prescott. Anyone who likes historical fiction, spy stories and intrigue will enjoy this novel.
  • Angie G. (Hagerstown, MD)
    The Tudor Secret
    If you are looking for a light, enjoyable mystery then this may be the book for you. The book moved along at an easy pace and the historical setting was engaging. If you are looking for historical accuracy then this may not be the book for you.
    I facilitate an adult book discussion group at a library. I would not select this as a discussion book but would recommend it to those interested in this genre.
  • Juli S. (Portland, OR)
    Not sure I'll continue with the series
    I knew from his previous book about Catherine de Medici that I enjoyed C.W. Gortner’s writing, but this one fell a bit flat for me. It started out promising with an apparently naïve young man being sent to court at a time when scheming and plotting was at its dirtiest and nastiest. Within a few short pages he’s gone from his first exposure to life at court to being sharp enough to be conscripted as a spy for a member of Elizabeth’s inner circle. I know it’s historical fiction but some of the quick turnarounds and emotional attachments in this one just seemed too quick.

    Despite that, I liked Brendan Prescott as a character. He seemed to have a strong inner place from which he made his decisions and alliances. The secondary characters that he joined up with along the way were interesting and for a planned series might make a good core of recurring characters.

    I know it’s planned as a series, but I’m just not sure it’s a series I’ll bother to continue reading.
  • Elizabeth B. (Sunnyvale, CA)
    The Tudor Secret
    This was a fun book to read. Having read both non-fiction and historical fiction of the Tudor period, I found this perspective entertaining, an imaginative perspective of some of the events and persons of this period of history. However, I would have preferred richer descriptions of the characters and less predictable plot development.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Vicki O. (Boston, MA)
    A Secret, A Secret
    I had a hard time getting into the book, but as the plot thickened and the intrigues multiplied, I ended up whipping through the last two thirds. My biggest problem was with the protagonist, Brendan Prescott. He was pleasant enough, but I found his rise to hero hood a bit unbelievable, given what I know about the political atmosphere of that era. I’ll be curious to find out how Brendan uses what he has learned and matures in the next book in the series


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