Review copy provided by St. Martin’s Griffin
US Publication Date: July 16, 2013
UK Publication Date: July 18, 2013
Synopsis (From the Publisher):
"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."
The Tudor Conspiracy is the second installment in C.W. Gortner's Spymaster Chronicles, and although the first one was an entertaining start to the series, this is the one that really confirms the brilliant future of The Spymaster Chronicles. It is amazing that a mere 352 pages could possibly contain so much detail, suspense, and power!
The novel picks up about six months after the close of The Tudor Secret, but, since it has been two years in our time, I was quite forgetful as to what went on last time. There were some events referenced that I only vaguely remembered and had to work out as the story went on, but it was nothing detrimental to the overall plot. In fact, the plot raced like a runaway train, and once again I finished the book all too quickly.
One of the best aspects of reading this series is to know going into it that this isn't a typical Tudor novel. Unlike other Tudor novels that mainly focus on Henry VIII and his wives, this novel has the royalty take a back seat, and are only present when receiving or divulging information. The plot is purely driven by Brendan Prescott's mission to protect Elizabeth's life while discovering a treacherous plot to overthrow Mary I. This mission puts Brendan in quite a perilous situation, for how could he possibly show loyalty to the dueling daughters of Henry VIII? It is an impossible situation, yet C.W. Gortner makes it entirely believable and easy to forget that this is a work of fiction.
In addition to the well formed plot, it is the stunning attention to detail and descriptions that make this book so engaging. There were so many times that the opening scene of a chapter or setting transition, made me pause and reread the paragraph due to its vivid imagery. I will definitely be rereading this novel in order to just focus on the imagery!
The Tudor Conspiracy offers its reader everything from intrigue, to murder, to espionage and stunning prose. Without a doubt, this novel will appeal to anyone even remotely interested in the Tudor Era, and to those looking for an exceptionally well rounded work of historical fiction.
About the Author
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.
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