Friday, August 09, 2013

Blog Tour & Review: The Tudor Conspiracy by C.W. Gortner

The Tudor Conspiracy by C.W. Gortner
Series: The Spymaster Chronicles, #2
St. Martin's Griffin
July 2013
Format: Paperback, 352 pages
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Hunted by a shadowy foe in Bloody Mary’s court, Brendan Prescott plunges into London’s treacherous underworld to unravel a dark conspiracy that could make Elizabeth queen—or send her to her death.

England, 1553: Harsh winter encroaches upon the realm. Mary Tudor has become queen to popular acclaim and her enemies are imprisoned in the Tower. But when she’s betrothed to Philip, Catholic prince of Spain, putting her Protestant subjects in peril, rumors of a plot to depose her swirl around the one person whom many consider to be England’s heir and only hope—the queen’s half-sister, Princess Elizabeth.

Haunted by his past, Brendan Prescott lives far from the intrigues of court. But his time of refuge comes to an end when his foe and mentor, the spymaster Cecil, brings him disquieting news that sends him on a dangerous mission. Elizabeth is held captive at court, the target of the Spanish ambassador, who seeks her demise. Obliged to return to the palace where he almost lost his life, Brendan finds himself working as a double-agent for Queen Mary herself, who orders Brendan to secure proof that will be his cherished Elizabeth’s undoing.

Plunged into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with a mysterious opponent who hides a terrifying secret, Brendan races against time to retrieve a cache of the princess’s private letters, even as he begins to realize that in this dark world of betrayal and deceit, where power is supreme and sister can turn against sister, nothing—and no one—is what it seems.

My thoughts: This is the second in C.W. Gortner's Spymaster Chronicles and it was another fast-paced, mystery. I've read quite a few of Gortner's books and really enjoy them. It's quite evident he thoroughly researches his topic and is able to spin a balanced tale of fact and fiction.

Picking up where the first book in the series, The Tudor Secret, leaves off, we find Mary on the throne, the traitors of the first book in the Tower and Elizabeth being requested to appear at court. Brendan heads to court himself and thus sets himself up as a double agent - trying to find out what Mary ultimately plans for Elizabeth. Life is very unsettled in England during this time - between religious revolts and followers of each of the Tudor women - there is plenty of intrigue, espionage and paranoia going around. At times, I had found myself thoroughly confused as to who was on what side and anxious that Brendan would be discovered as a double agent.

What I really enjoy about this series, besides the mystery/spy element, is that it's told from a male perspective. Most of the books I've read set during the Tudor time are told from female characters - whether the queen's themselves, their ladies-in-waiting, etc. Having the story told from Brendan's point of view allows the story to focus on other aspects of court life. This, I think, provides a good balance to all those other books out there and as many as I have already read, there are still many more on my list.

I wasn't sure if this was going to be the last of Brendan, but we are left with the thought that perhaps there will be more adventures in store for him. After all, his secret has just been revealed to Queen Mary and Brendan has also learned more about himself. Plus, in the author's notes, C.W. himself leaves us with the following statement: "Brendan's adventures will continue..." That sure makes me happy!

Books in this series:
  1. The Tudor Secret
  2. The Tudor Conspiracy

The Tudor Conspiracy by C.W. Gortner is on tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. Be sure to check out the other tour stops to read more reviews, guest posts and some giveaway opportunities. Be sure to follow all the twitter activity, too at #TudorConspiracyTour.



  1. You're right! I've never noticed this, but like YA, I think historical fiction suffers from a distinct lack of male protagonists.

  2. I thought this was a brilliant installment, I'm generally more a fan of Gortner's straight historical fiction but this is now a fave too :)


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