Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Tudor Conspiracy: A Novel by C. W. Gortner

The Tudor Conspiracy: A Novel.  C. W. Gortner. St. Martin’s Griffin. July 2013. 352 pp.  pbk. ISBN#: 9780312658496.

Mary Tudor and Princess Elizabeth are bitter enemies forevermore.  Mary is now Queen of England and doing everything possible to force her sister to convert from Protestantism to the Roman Catholic faith.  That victory would guarantee England remains a Catholic country and would enable Mary to marry Philip, Prince of Spain.  Imagine how such a union would change the face of history!

“Nothing is ever as it seems!” is the essence of this plot and Brendan Prescott, spy who once saved one of the sisters, is the protagonist called to the Queen’s presence for specific employment.  His job?  Prove Elizabeth is a traitor; bring evidence that will enable Mary to eliminate her ever-threatening sister.  Court intrigue, rumors and plots fill every page as supposed friends and implacable foes lead and mislead this easily targeted spy.  The reader must pay attention as Brendan seems to serve both sisters with equal determination.  Yes, he is misled at times but learns to become sharper mentally and trust his increasingly correct instincts as to who is really vying for favor.  There are truly no innocents herein!

Private letters, secrets, poison, murder, brutal beatings, threats, sword battles, sexual temptation and more force the reader’s excitement into more intense reading and flipping of these riveting pages.  For C. W. Gortner is a master of the mystery, the spy novel, the adventure story, the intricacies of England’s domestic and international manipulations of history, the obsessive lust for power and revenge, and the foibles that betray even the most careful antagonists!

The subplot of this novel awaits the reader’s pleasure as Brendan searches for his true identity amidst the royalty related to the Tudor sisters.  This quest is no less satisfying and the reader is rooting for Brendan every step of the way.

The author’s brilliance shines clearly in the way his characters seem to move through an emotional gauntlet of fury, confusion, fear, mourning, happiness, and mistrust in a matter of minutes.  One is never sure what will happen in the next second which makes the anticipation even more enticing!  Words cannot properly convey how well-crafted The Tudor Conspiracy… is.  Treat yourself, if you haven’t done so yet, to a brilliant, literate, engaging and exciting read which illuminates the intricacies of this well-known royally entangled historical period and characters!  Stunning!

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