Tuesday, July 23, 2013

REVIEW: The Tudor Conspiracy by C.W. Gortner

Synopsis: 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.

My Thoughts:  I have not read the first book in this series even though I own it so I was a bit worried I would be missing out on key story points.  I need not have worried at all because even though this is my first introduction to Brendan Prescott-the man that would risk life and limb to protect Princess Elizabeth-I did not feel I was missing anything at all.  In this second installment, Brendan is living the quiet life at Hatfield serving Princess Elizabeth and spending time with his lady love Kate Stafford when he gets an unexpected visitor in the form of former spymaster William Cecil.  Cecil reveals that he has received mysterious correspondence from Queen Mary's court which indicates Princess Elizabeth may be in mortal danger.  Conflicted about stepping back into the court life, Brendan knows he must do all he can to secure the safety of the Princess.  When he arrives at court he realizes exactly how perilous Elizabeth's position is and is thrown into a web of intrigue where there are those who would secure Elizabeth's demise at any cost.  Brendan endures painful losses, much danger and unexpected revelations as he navigates an environment where one can not easily identify friend or foe and which puts him and those around him in danger as well.

This was a really good mystery!  I immediately liked Brendan Prescott for his unswerving loyalty and dedication.   The book focuses on the point in time when Mary is considering marriage to Prince Philip of Spain and it was a time when the court was very fractured along the lines of religion. Of course there were those that would make it more so by advocating for the execution of Elizabeth to ensure the country remained Catholic.  Gortner does so well at conveying this tension and immersing his reader in the intrigue surrounding this tumultuous time.  He makes Mary's court come alive.  I also appreciated that the action and intensity never let up as key plot points were slowly revealed and unexpected twists were thrown in.  I totally gobbled this book up and was highly entertained throughout as one obstacle after another is thrown in Brendan's path in his quest to save the Princess while appearing to serve the Queen.  I now know I really need to go back and read the first in the series because even though I read this just fine as a stand alone I think reading the first novel would give me more insight into Brendan and the rest of the characters in this novel.  I do not give five fleurs to books often as I am  not generally someone who reads a book more than once and I only give them to books that were so good I would read them again.  I would definitely read this one again.  The writing is wonderful, the mystery is top notch and it is set in my favorite time period.   Recommend to Tudor lovers or anyone who loves to dig into a good historical mystery.

 ARC provided to me for participation in the author's tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.  These are my honest thoughts on the book.
For more reviews, giveaways, interviews and guest posts with author C.W. Gortner you can view the rest of the tour schedule HERE.


NOTE:  This is the UK cover for The Tudor Conspiracy.  This title was released in the UK on July 18th.

C.W. Gortner holds an MFA in Writing, with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies. Raised in Spain and half Spanish by birth, he currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

He welcomes readers and is always available for reader group chats. Please visit him at www.cwgortner.com for more information.  You can also follow Christopher on Facebook and Twitter.

Follow the tour on Twitter: #TudorConspiracyTour

1 comment:

  1. I loved this book (and book 1 even more - you have to read it!!!). You do get a lot more bulk to Brendan in book 1, but book 2 we learn a lot more about his back story. So glad you enjoyed it and I can't wait for the next book.