Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Tudor Vendetta by C.W. Gortner

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Obtained from: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours/Netgalley
Read: November 13, 2014

Winter, 1558: Elizabeth I has ascended the throne but the first days of her reign are already fraught with turmoil, the kingdom weakened by strife and her ability to rule uncertain. Summoned from exile abroad at the new queen’s behest, Brendan Prescott arrives in London to face his shattered past. He soon finds himself pitted in deadly rivalry with his life-long foe, Robert Dudley, but when a poison attempt overshadows the queen’s coronation, Elizabeth privately dispatches Brendan on a far more dangerous assignation: to find her favored lady-in-waiting, Lady Parry, who has vanished in Yorkshire. Upon his arrival at the crumbling sea-side manor that may hold the key to Lady Parry’s disappearance, he encounters a strange, impoverished family beset by grief, as well as mounting evidence that they hide a secret from him. The mystery surrounding Lady Parry deepens as Brendan begins to realize there is far more going on at the manor than meets the eye, but the closer he gets to the heart of the mystery, the more he becomes the quarry of an elusive stranger with a vendetta— one that could expose both his own buried identity and a long-hidden revelation that will bring about Elizabeth’s doom. From the intrigue-laden passages of Whitehall to a foreboding Catholic manor and the prisons of the Tower, Brendan must risk everything to unravel a vendetta that strikes at the very core of his world, including his loyalty to his queen.

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I discovered C.W. Gortner entirely by accident. I'd accepted an offer to review The Queen's Vow and The Tudor Conspiracy as part of two coinciding book tours and quickly fell in love with his work which is why I didn't stop to think when offered the opportunity to review The Tudor Vendetta. I simply said yes and jumped into the third installment of the Spymaster Chronicles.

As with its predecessor, I was struck by the complex intrigue Gortner created and his ability to surprise readers with unforeseeable twists and turns. This is no small achievement, but it takes on special significance when one recognizes how much Tudor literature is on the market. It is a very popular period and it's rare to find someone who can infuse a story with as much originality and imagination as Gortner. 

Another thing I love about this book is how natural it felt. The author has a very keen understanding of court life and how tangled loyalties might have become as the crown passed from one head to the next. Blending this concept into the fabric of his fiction, the reader can recognize a tangible uncertainty in many of Brendan Prescott's relationships and in turn develop an authentic understanding of the precariousness of his position.   

Though I appreciate many of the characters, I actually found Dudley the most interesting. I've never been particularly fond of him, but Gortner's interpretation proved something an exception. Details would spoil the story so you'll have to read the book to understand what I'm getting at, but suffice it to say Gortner's multifaceted caricature exceeded my expectations.

Though slow to start, I very much enjoyed the time I spent with this piece. There is an air of suspicion about it and glorious deception that keeps the reader on their toes up till the final page. Highly recommended as both a standalone and series read.  

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"This is what we do, Prescott. We are intelligencers. We cannot concede defeat even when we are weary, because our life is nothing compared to the one we must protect. You almost failed her last time and she barely survived it. Now, you must sacrifice everything you feel and think, if you’re to become her weapon."
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Check Out All the Stops on C. W. Gortner's The Tudor Vendetta Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 20
Review at The Maiden’s Court
Guest Post at Mina’s Bookshelf
Tuesday, October 21
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Spotlight at Passages to the Past
Wednesday, October 22
Review at Back Porchervations
Review at Always With a Books
Thursday, October 23
Review at 100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Friday, October 24
Review at Bibliophilia, Please
Interview at Back Porchervations
Monday, October 27
Review at JulzReads
Review at Queen of All She Reads
Tuesday, October 28
Review at Beth’s Book Reviews
Wednesday, October 29
Review at Making My Mark
Review at Writing the Renaissance
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Guest Post at Bookish
Thursday, October 30
Review & Guest Post at Drey’s Library
Review & Interview at The Copperfield Review & From Meredith Allard
Interview at Writing the Renaissance
Friday, October 31
Review at Book by Book
Monday, November 3
Review at Mari Reads
Review & Gues Post at JM Ledwell Writes
Tuesday, November 4
Review at A Bookish Affair
Wednesday, November 5
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair
Thursday, November 6
Review at Booktalk & More
Friday, November 7
Review at Build a Bookshelf
Review at One Book at a Time
Monday, November 10
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Tuesday, November 11
Review at A Book Geek
Review at The Lit Bitch
Wednesday, November 12
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Thursday, November 13
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Friday, November 14
Review at Book Nerd
Spotlight at Paranormal Book Club
Monday, November 17
Review at Broken Teepee
Review at The Never-Ending Book
Tuesday, November 18
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Guest Post at What is That Book About
Wednesday, November 19
Review at Kate Forsyth’s Blog
Thursday, November 20
Review & Interview at The Tudor Enthusiast
Friday, November 21
Review at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Monday, November 24
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection
Tuesday, November 25
Review at Historical Tapestry
Review at The True Book Addict
Wednesday, November 26
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Friday, November 28
Review at Books in the Burbs
Review & Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

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