STORY: Summer, 1553: Brendan Prescott, an orphan reared in the household of the powerful Dudley family, is brought to court, where he finds himself sent on an illicit mission to King Edward VI’s brilliant, enigmatic sister, Princess Elizabeth.
But soon Brendan is compelled to work as a double agent by Elizabeth’s protector, William Cecil—who promises in exchange to help him unravel the secret of his own mysterious past.
A dark plot swirls around Elizabeth’s quest to unravel the truth about the ominous disappearance of her seriously ill brother, King Edward VI. With only a bold stable boy and audacious lady-in-waiting at his side, Brendan plunges into a ruthless gambit of half-truths, lies, and murder.
REVIEW: I love reading historical fiction, as well as watching it on film, especially the Tudor era. “The Tudor Secret” was my first exposure to C. W. Gortner and I could not be happier with the introduction to this Author.
For the most part, this is a coming of age story. Brendan is a very young man, more a boy, thrust into the inner circle of King Edward VI’s court which was a place full of intrigue and danger. We find out very early on that Brendan is intelligent and resourceful, and he manages to hold his own. It was such a joy to read, see and feel a twist on a history through Brendan’s eyes. He finds himself a pawn in Dudley’s conspiracies and gets recruited by William Cecil as a spy. The Author pulls in characters like William Cecil and Frances Walsingham to give us a great view of how spying had started. I’ve asked myself if it’s believable that a boy such as Brendan would be able to approach the royals to the extent that he did, and the answer was yes. After all, he was not a stranger to some of the major players, notably Robert Dudley, his brothers and his entire family. He grew up with those men, and their mother wanted him in court for a specific reason which was THE “mystery” of Brendan’s birth. When all the pieces fall into place, and Brendan confronts Cecil, my heart just brakes as I see him age before my eyes…
“I was beyond reason. An abyss opened beneath my feet, full of horrors I did not want to see……. How could she have left me in ignorance, all these years? How could she have not realized that, in the end, what I did not know might be the one thing used against me?”
“I thrust out a hand,’No more. Please, I – I cannot bare it.’”
From the first chapter of this book, you can’t help but be drawn to his story. It is one bumpy ride for our Hero and I loved every minute of his journey. I was inside Brendan Prescott’s thoughts; feelings and footsteps as he walked, ran and rode to his destiny. His voice was loud and clear through the book and I got to like the boy and I’m eagerly anticipating watching him grow into his own in the second installment which will be published sometime in 2012.
I would be remiss in not mentioning the secondary characters which are just delightful, fun and witty. I do hope we see more of Peregrine and Fitzpatrick. With them by his side our Hero became more real to us. I’m also looking forward to learning more of “Robin” Dudley, Queen Elizabeth’s Favourite, and often thought to have been her lover. And lets not forget Master Shelton who our Hero needs to face in regards to the “Secret”.
C. W. did an awesome job of incorporating historical facts with fiction of the era. Historical figures of that time were so accurately painted with words that I found myself there in the midst of their intrigues.
If you’re looking for a hot romance, you might be a bit disappointed, but that should not detract you from enjoying this book. Please don’t misunderstand. There is a love story within, lust as well, but not as much as some might prefer.
At the end, the Author gave us a well written, captivating, complicated, enjoyable, richly told and very interesting story which I heartily recommend.