Thursday, February 17, 2011

Book Tour and Review: The Tudor Secret by C. W. Gortner


The Tudor Secret by C. W. Gortner
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publish Date:February 1, 2011
Trade paperback, 352 pages 
Historical Fiction

My Review:
Why I read this:I am trying to read more historical fiction and the blurb on this one sounded very intriguing.  I know very little about this time in history so I thought it would be great to read.

How is the novel driven: Plot, the characters are pivotal, but the plot drives the book.

My thoughts:I have not read anything about this period of history in England nor do I remember much about the Tudors from history or literature classes in high school.  So The Tudor Secret was a very interesting novel to me.  I am familiar with Queen Elizabeth and know how highly regarded she was so it was interesting to see how it all came about.

That being said, I don't know how close to history, The Tudor Secret is.  The author states in the afterward that he proposes a what-if into the time frame and therefore the story is fiction, but it is built around what is known of the time.  Thus the genre of historical fiction.  I know I enjoyed the book and this look into Elizabeth and the fascinating fictional character of Brendan Prescott.  I also loved that this book is told from a male point-of-view.  I am so use to reading books from the female point-of-view that this was very refreshing to me.  Suspense books from male point-of-view, yes, but historical fiction books, not so much, at least the ones I have read.  I really liked Brendan as a character.  He had a strong character and a desire to do what was right.  He wasn't perfect but he tried.

The suspense plot that runs through The Tudor Secret was well-constructed.  I found myself trying to guess what might happen next but almost always getting it wrong.  The book held me spellbound and I was really sorry that work got in the way of me reading it this week.  I think if I had started it on a weekend it would have been like These Things Hidden and I would not be able to put it down.  Which is a rare quality in historical fiction for me personally.  I know a lot of you are lovers of the genre, but I am fairly new to it and I am not often enamored by historical fiction books.  Michele Moran always captivates me and now I think I will be sure and check out C. W. Gortner's other novels.

This is the first in a series of books and I look forward to reading the upcoming books, and learning more about the world of Brendan, Elizabeth, Kate and Peregrine.  The Tudor Secret did a great job of getting me into the time period, creating characters I cared about  and captivating my attention from beginning to end.  That makes a great novel for me and I am sure I won't forget this one for awhile.

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

About the Book:

The era of the Tudors was one of danger, intrigue, conspiracy, and above all, spies.

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, Prescott finds himself sent on an illicit mission to the King’s brilliant, 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 only a bold stable boy and audacious 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 Chronicles.

About the Author: 

C.W. Gortner is the author of the acclaimed historical novels The Last Queen and The Confessions of Catherine de Medici. He holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis on Renaissance Studies from the New College of California. In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard in a Tudor great hall and experienced life in a Spanish castle. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights and environmental issues. Half-Spanish by birth, he divides his time between Northern California and Antigua, Guatemala.

The Tudor Secret is the first book in Gortner’s The Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles series.

You can visit the author online at or his blog at

Exerpt from The Tudor Secret
There are moments that define our existence, moments that, if we recognize them, become pivotal turning points in our life. Like pearls on a strand, the accumulation of such moments will in time become the essence of our life, providing solace when our end draws near.

For me, meeting Elizabeth Tudor was one of those moments.

The first I noticed was that she was not beautiful. Her chin was too narrow for the oval of her face, her long thin nose emphasizing the high curve of her cheeks and proud brow. Her mouth was disproportionately wide and her lips too thin, as if she savored secrets. And she was too pale and slim, like a fey creature of indeterminate sex.

Then I met her stare. Her eyes were fathomless, over-wide pupils limning her gold irises, like twin suns in eclipse. I had seen eyes like hers before, years ago, when a traveling menagerie entertained us at Dudley Castle. Then, too, I had been captured by their dormant power.

She had the eyes of a lion.

“Lord Robert’s squire?” she said to Cecil. “How can it be? I’ve never seen him before.”

“I’m new to court, Your Grace,” I answered. “Your dog is foreign, is he not?”

She shot me a terse look; she’d not given me leave to speak. “He is Italian. You are familiar with the breed?”

“I had occasion to learn many things during my time in the Dudley stables.”

“Is that so?” She tilted her head. “Hold out your hand.”
I hesitated for a moment before warily extending my wrist. She loosened her grip on the chain. The hound thrust his muzzle at me. I almost recoiled as I felt his breath on my skin. He sniffed. To my relief, he licked my skin and retreated.

“You have a way with animals,” Elizabeth said. “Urian rarely takes to strangers.” She motioned me to my feet. “What is your name?”

“Brendan Prescott, Your Grace.”

***I received this book from the author through Pump Up Your Book Tours for an honest review.  I was not compensated in any other way except receiving the book for free.  I do not receive money for my amazon links since I live in NC (something about some law), so they are up purely for my readers to have a place to check out the book.***


Cozy in Texas said...

I'm intrigued with this period. Thanks for the review.

Cheryl said...

Thanks for the great review of Christopher's latest. He's a superb writer, and if you haven't read his previous two books (The Last Queen and The Confessions of Catherine de Medici) I highly recommend them.

So glad you enjoyed The Tudor Secret.


C.W. Gortner said...

Thank you so much for this marvelous review and for hosting me on my blog tour. I sincerely hope your readers will enjoy THE TUDOR SECRET.

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