The Tudor Conspiracy
The Tudor Conspiracy, second in the series by C.W. Gortner, starts off quickly, with Brendan Prescott being recruited by William Cecil to return to Mary I’s court to uncover a conspiracy to depose the monarch and place the Princess Elizabeth on the throne. Though reluctant to return, Brendan takes his squire (and friend) Peregrine to court and soon finds himself a double agent, spying for both Elizabeth and Mary. When he realizes that Mary’s Spanish advisor, Renard, is setting a trap that will cost Elizabeth her head, Brendan moves to trail those whom he believes are attempting to use Elizabeth’s letters against her. Amid the intrigue and danger, Brendan has to learn who he can trust and whether his dalliance with the court beauty Sybilla is worth losing his beloved Kate back home.
Gortner weaves Brendan effortlessly into the real-life circumstances surrounding the aborted coup that would have removed the Catholic Mary from the throne. I was quite impressed with the author’s knowledge of the incident and Tudor history in general; all of the characters, both real and fictional, leapt off the page. Brendan is a hero I could root for; both his arrogance and his mistakes make him wholly believable and endearing. There is a lot of action throughout, and several times I felt I’d reached the climax of the story only to be taken aboard yet another wild ride almost immediately. Well-written, well-plotted, and well-researched, The Tudor Conspiracy is a page turner that has me eager for the next book in this delicious spy series.