April 10, 2011

Tudor Book Blog Book Review: The Tudor Secret


Normally I wouldn’t post two reviews in the same day, but I have been working simultaneously on these two forever now, so I wanted to make sure they both got up! Enjoy!

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Summary:

Young Princess Elizabeth
This story follows an orphaned stable boy, Brendon Prescott, on a search to discover his past, as well as save the Princesses Mary and Elizabeth.

Found abandoned as a baby, he is taken in by the powerful Dudley family. When he is old enough, he is called to the Royal Tudor Court, ruled by the young Edward VI. Though Robert Dudley has shown his obvious distaste for Prescott, Prescott is assigned to become his squire. His first mission is to take a ring to the Princess Elizabeth, a gift from Robert Dudley. This small gesture sets the events for the rest of the story in motion. Upon meeting the Princess, he is quickly taken with her. She is distraught to discover her brother has “disappeared.” She is not allowed to see him and Prescott quickly discovers that there is a plot a foot to keep both Mary and Elizabeth from the throne. He resolves to save both.

Prescott is an innocent, knowing nothing of the way the Royal Court works. He quickly finds himself spying for Dudley and an unknown person, in the hopes of keeping Princess Elizabeth safe and help her half-sister, Mary, take her rightful place as Queen. His motivation really stems from his desire to discover his past; Who abandoned him and why? However, once he gets involved with protecting Elizabeth and aiding Mary, they quickly become his motivations.
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Review:

Overall, I really liked this novel. I found it extremely easy to read and was quickly drawn into it. Even though I am not a huge fan of first person novels, I did like that this novel was set from the point of view of a “commoner” not the typical Elizabeth or other royal person-view point. Through this point of view you certainly get a new look at the Tudor Court.
Sir Francis Walsingham, a true Tudor Spy
From the point of view of a “commoner,” I found it fascinating that Brendan Prescott was so willing to accept his “low” station in life. He would have been happy to stay at the Dudley estate raising horses. Even when told that his greatest accomplishment would be becoming the Duke’s Steward, Prescott thought it was too lofty for him. I found this interesting as despite it being a good position, it was still the position of a servant. Even this he thought was too much. I suppose this is how it was back then; You were born low, you stay low.

This view is in stark contrast to that of the Dudleys whom Gortner paints harshly. He shows them as greedy, self-serving, and cruel. To an extent, I think this is an accurate depiction. However, there seems to be no real redeeming quality presented in the novel.

One thing I did not like about the novel is that it takes place in such a short amount of time: about two weeks. It seems like such a short amount of time for so much to happen. Not events, but the development of the characters flies by. Brendan Prescott evolves so fast, it seem unrealistic. I feel that the time frame could have been extended. Another issue is the language. Now, for this novel I think the more modern dialogue works. However, many historical Tudor fans will find it very unrealistic. However, I feel that the story and new approach to the Tudor period far outweighed the minor flaws I mentioned above.

I love the “What If’s” of history. C.W. Gortner certainly does this here. This novel is not one for historical fact. Though he has certainly done his research, this is not a “textbook-novel.” Rather, it is a fun and suspenseful novel. It is certainly a work of fiction, but because Gortner has done a wonderful job researching and setting the scene, the factual “errors” surprisingly didn’t bother me. For me, this novel is a meshing of my two favorite genres: The Tudors and Mysteries. C.W. Gortner’s mystery novel is certainly a new take on the typical Tudor novel. His blend of mystery, historical events, and fiction is a great new twist to an often written-on time period. I give it Four and a Half Tudor Roses, and highly recommend it.

Note: Thanks to C.W. Gortner and St. Martin’s Press for TWO copies of this novel! I thoroughly enjoyed it, and hope the giveaway winner enjoys their copy as well!

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