Everyone has a secret. Like an oyster with its grain of sand, we bury it deep within, coating it with opalescent layers, as if that could heal our mortal wound. Some of us devote our entire lives to keeping our secret hidden, safe from those who might pry it from us, hoarding it like the pearl, only to discover that it escapes us when we least expect it....
~from The Tudor Secret by C.W. Gortner
As I perused the opening lines of The Tudor Secret (above) chills ran down my spine; I knew then and there that whatever I had planned for the next twenty-four hours was going to be in major competition with reading. C.W. Gortner's newly released historical novel about sixteenth century espionage is a thriller, a mystery, and a startlingly vibrant portrait of the Tudor princesses. Young Elizabeth Tudor, who is an old friend to most readers of historical fiction, is at the center of the drama, as is her wont. She is the Bess we know and love and yet Mr. Gortner in his artistry makes her as enigmatic as never before. I appreciated the balanced portrayal of Princess Mary, bearing the heartache of being unloved for so long, yet every inch a granddaughter of the great Isabella.
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. Filled with the intrigue and pageantry of Tudor England, THE TUDOR SECRET is the first book in the Elizabeth I Spymaster series.Robert Dudley and his entire family are shown as being wretches, always at odds with each other, thinking they can win by lies and brute force. Meanwhile, Brendan, a young man of hidden origins, uses his quick wits to learn the ways of espionage, mentored by Master Cecil, the best in the game. The reader is given a glimpse into the secret world by which thrones were gained and lost. Brendan overcomes his initial fears to take whatever risks he must to save the princesses from betrayal and death. With spies and counterspies canceling each other out, The Tudor Secret makes it clear that neither force nor gold can buy a faithful heart, rather genuine loyalty is inspired and retained by indefinable qualities, qualities which Elizabeth Tudor possessed. Such a gift is at the mysterious center of The Tudor Secret. As the first in the Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles, the book offers us much to look forward to in the future.
Some insights on The Tudor Secret from a Tudor historian, HERE.
Book Trailer, HERE.
Q&A with Mr. Gortner, HERE and HERE.
(*NOTE: The Tudor Secret was sent to me by the author in exchange for my honest opinion.) Share