The Tudor Secret
C.W. Gortner
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Buy *The Tudor Secret (The Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles)* by C.W. Gortner online

The Tudor Secret (The Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles)
C.W. Gortner
St. Martin's Griffin
352 pages
February 2011
rated 3 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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Brendan Prescott, a 20-year-old orphan who was raised by a servant of the Dudley family in Tudor England, has been sent to court to serve a man he loathes: Robert Dudley. The country is in a perilous time. The king, Edward VI, hasnít been seen by the public - or even the nobles at court - for some time. Dudleyís father, the Duke of Northumberland, rules the country in Edwardís stead. It is plain that he has a nefarious plan, but not so plain what it entails. Making matters worse, the princesses Mary and Elizabeth might be in danger. Thrown into this political quagmire, Brendan finds himself in over his head before he even realizes it.

The Tudor Secret is an engaging look at a fascinating period in British history. The death of Henry VIII left a political vacuum in the country. His son Edward, only nine years old at his coronation, was controlled by the Seymour family, his uncles on his motherís side. After their downfall, the Dudleys stepped in to take control. This story takes place when Edward VI is around sixteen years old. An air of mystery surrounds the court. No one knows exactly what is going on.

Brendan Prescott is something of an enigma. Though he has no clue to the origin of his birth, from the time he arrives at court it becomes clear that there is a puzzle behind it. He is smart and resourceful, something recognized by spymaster William Cecil from the beginning. Itís no surprise when Cecil approaches him, thrusting Brendan deeper into court intrigue, fighting to survive and protect those he cares about.

The novel itself is a quick, easy read. Gortner has a way with writing historical fiction that makes the most mundane events seem completely gripping. If you know this period in British history, then you know exactly what is transpiring behind much of The Tudor Secret, specifically relating to the Duke of Northumberlandís plot. Readers might fear that such foreknowledge would take away from reading the book; it doesnít at all. Gortner still manages to make the novel very suspensefulm an impressive feat that shows how great an author Gortner is.

Aspects of The Tudor Secret might leave readers wanting, though. The main romance seemed rushed and strange to me. I understood Brendanís interest in the woman, just not why it is mutual since they donít have much interaction. Additionally, Brendan isnít a consistent character when it comes to knowledge and intellect. While it is clear from the beginning that he is smart, sometimes he needs the simplest aspects of history explained to him, things he should probably have known. The author needed a way to explain the political situation to the reader, but this tack didnít sit well with me. The Tudor Secret is also not as firmly rooted in history as Gortnerís previous works. If youíre looking for fiction that doesn't require real leaps of faith, this book probably isnít for you.

Despite that, The Tudor Secret is an enjoyable read. It looks to be the first in a series, which would be a welcome development. This is a fascinating time in history, and there is much more that Gortner can do with it.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Swapna Krishna, 2011

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