>Book Review: The Tudor Secret (The Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles) by C.W. Gortner


The Tudor Secret (The Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles) by C.W. Gortner
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin (February 1, 2011)
ISBN-13: 978-0312658502
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!!
The Burton Review Rating:Five Glorious Stars!

Once upon a time there was a writer striving to become published so he did it his own way via the self-publication route. Out came The Secret Lion: Book One of The Spymaster Chronicles and although it caught my eye, it wasn’t readily available unless I wanted to pay a pretty penny. Several years later, this same author found huge success with his 2009 novel The Last Queen, and then again with The Confessions of Catherine de Medici. I loved these two novels as C.W. Gortner easily became my favorite male author to read. Imagine my joy when I heard that Gortner’s first spy novel had been picked up by St. Martin’s Griffin for a reissue after Gortner tweaked it up a bit. I was thrilled to receive a review copy of one of the first Tudor novels that had originally sparked my interest a few years ago. Gortner has another hit on his hands, as once again he takes the blogging community by storm with the story of a fictional character inserted directly into the intrigues of the dangerous Tudor courts.

This new novel takes on the name The Tudor Secret and follows a young squire Brendan Prescott who is a new arrival at a court that is about to become entwined once again in its perils of succession. King Edward VI is dying, and the Dudley family that raised Brendan the foundling is controlling all information in and out so that no one really knows what is going on with the young King. Princess Elizabeth has few friends, and one of those is Master Cecil. Brendan realizes quickly that his own survival depends on cooperating with Cecil and his cohort the deadly Walsingham.. all in a bid to save Elizabeth from peril at the hands of the scheming Dudley upstarts.

Most Tudor fans know the story of  how the monarchy changed hands from King Edward to Lady Jane and finally Queen Mary I. Gortner doesn’t bore us with the replaying of these same historical details and the struggle of the people during these times. Instead, he turns this well-known story into a spine-tingling mystery of many depths with romance, friendship and loyalty as underlying themes. I found the mystery angle to be well written and expertly interwoven into historic events, making this an unforgettable story for Tudor fiction fans. The Tudor Secret also shows a rare outsider’s look at Elizabeth and her sister Mary, as opposed to the many Tudor reads that typically focus on a noble or member of the royal family. I relished the tones of deviousness that Gortner put on some regular faces such as the Dudley men who I love to hate, Frances Brandon and Master Stokes. And I loved the rare favorable look at Cecil, who becomes Elizabeth’s biggest ally during her reign. Although some Tudor aficionados may take slight with the convenient plot twists that Gortner utilizes, I loved every scandalous moment. Any book that has me itching to get back to it is a win-win in the entertainment department, and this blends two genres that I love seamlessly together: historical fiction and mystery, set in one of my favorite eras to read about.

The Tudor Secret is full of suspense and fast-paced adventures which is an exciting departure from Gortner’s previous successful novels which focused on members of royal families, and I cannot wait for another Spymaster Chronicles novel! Those who are bored with the everyday Tudor-style novel should find a renewed interest in the genre with this new perception from a commoner new to the courts. C.W. Gortner is easily my favorite male author at this time for historical fiction, whether it is this historical mystery genre or otherwise. Congrats to C.W. for another excellent novel that I would love to recommend to any Tudor fiction fan, and it was well worth my wait. Five stars for its entertainment value, its mystery twists and the scandalous secrets!



Filed under 16th Century, 2011 Releases, 2011 Reviews, Bloody Mary, C.W. Gortner, Edward VI, Elizabeth I, Tudor

8 responses to “>Book Review: The Tudor Secret (The Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles) by C.W. Gortner

  1. I really must read Gortner. This one is going on my wishlist right away

  2. I was so excited to read this book and it lived up the my expectations. I'm so glad that it was re-published! Great review.

  3. Thank you so much, Marie, for this marvelous review. I'm very honored by your praise and hope your readers enjoy THE TUDOR SECRET. Always a pleasure to visit!

  4. just like you I discovered C.W Gortner in 2006. I felt kind of sexist because he was a man and does write from a different outlook. he is also my favorite male author. and I have read a few.I cant wait for more spymaster. and also his new book of Isabel of Castile.

  5. An excellent review Marie, for an excellent book…I so wish I could have read this (having had the time, heart and mind for it…). I really missed out, but will make up for it as soon as life opens up a little gap-I want to read this badly! Thanks for the review that made this book all the more tantalizing:)

  6. I agree with the other commenters — I haven't read Gortner yet but clearly need to — everyone raves about him — and I'm thrilled he's getting attention for his books.

  7. Sounds like a must read. It's good to hear of an author who is recognized after self publishing.I'm an English speaking book lover. Ann

  8. I have heard of Gortner but this is the first review that actually has me wanting to read his book, especially because you did a great job reviewing it but also because it's a mystery first and a historical second. I'm not very fond of anything Tudor anymore but this Spymaster Chronicles novel sure looks like fun.

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