Wednesday, February 23, 2011
About the book:
Summer 1553: A time of danger and deceit. Brendan Prescott, an orphan, is reared in the household of the powerful Dudley family. Brought to court, he finds himself sent on an illicit mission to the King's brilliant but enigmatic sister, Princess Elizabeth. But Brendan is soon 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 Elizabeth's lady-in-waiting at his side, Brendan plunges into a ruthless gambit of half-truths, lies, and murder.
I enjoyed this historical novel and found it hard to put down because of the alternate theories in play. I read a lot of historical fiction including novels set in this time period and this author held my attention better than most. Mr. Gortner really grounded me in the 1500s through his excellent description of that time period and his use of the five senses. I experienced many perils along with the main character, Brandon, such as near-drowning incidences and being held in dark, nasty places fearing for his life. I tasted the dust as horses sped past and heard distinct sounds in the dark hallways of the castle.
Everything seemed realistic... even the minor characters. And some of those older ladies such as the duchesses were scary in their fierce presentation, making the story that much more compelling. I could see and taste their blood and sensed their calloused and manipulative hearts. I never knew who was for Brandon or against him for the majority of the book.
The author did a fantastic job with the setting and the pacing of this story. The mystery that was incorporated into the book unfolded in bits and pieces and kept me interested. The use of real people in history such as the Tudors combined with fictional characters to provide alternate theories made it that much more interesting.
As Brandon discovered more about his origins I felt the anxiety and concern along with him. His need to know about his family and why some people wanted him dead was compelling. So was the sad situation surrounding the death of young King Edward and the continual misrepresentation of key characters who were playing whatever role was necessary to save their own skins and not be counted on the losing side. Those were perilous times and this author did a great time bringing the complexity of the Tudors' story to life. I would read more books by this author.
The Tudor Secret was published by St. Martin's Griffin and was released in February 2011.