Having read and loved The Last Queen by Christopher Gortner I couldn’t wait to read the first book in the Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles – The Tudor Secret.
I read the book in a few sittings and was hooked from the opening line,
“Everyone has a secret.
Like the oyster with its grain of sand, we bury it deep within, coating it with opalescent layers, as if that could heal our mortal wound.”
The story is set in the summer of 1553, a time in Tudor history filled with danger and uncertainty. Edward VI is dying and the Duke of Northumberland plots to supplant the rightful heir, Mary Tudor, with his new daughter in law, Jane Grey.
Against this perilous backdrop, Brendan Prescott, an orphan, finds himself at court serving the powerful Dudley family whom he has served since he was a baby. But his allegiance is soon tested when the charismatic William Cecil promises to help him uncover the truth about his mysterious past in return for his services.
Brendan soon finds himself under the spell of the enigmatic Princess Elizabeth and compelled to protect her at all costs.
What I love about this tale is that Gortner has firmly anchored the story in history but at the same time introduced an entire set of fictitious characters like Brendan Prescott and his off sider Peregrine, that intermingle with real historical personalities so effortlessly.
Fact and fiction live side by side and it’s difficult to separate the truth from the author’s imagination. In my eyes, this is the mark of great historical fiction.
Although Tudor fans might know how the story of Lady Jane Grey ends we do not know Brendan Prescott’s story nor do we know his secret and so are kept on the edge of our seat throughout the entire book.
This is a true page-turner, a story that keeps you up until late at night with the promise of just one more chapter. You will find yourself questioning whether the characters are as they seem or whether duplicity lies at the heart of all.
It has been sometime since I have read a book that is so fast paced with more twists and turns than the maze of passageways of Whitehall Palace.
A gripping storyline, fascinating characters and descriptions that bring Tudor England magnificently to life, what more could you ask for?
In summary – highly recommended!
(Read my interview with C.W Gortner here.)