Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Book Review/Giveaway: The Tudor Vendetta by C.W. Gortner


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.

The Tudor Vendetta is the third book in Gortner’s Elizabeth I Spymaster Trilogy.



The Tudor period in England is one of my favorites in history.  So when I saw this book up for review, my heart said, "I.  MUST. READ."  And having done so, my heart is saying, "I. LOVED. IT!"

Elizabeth I was one of three legitimate children of Henry VIII, all three of whom had a turn at being a monarch after their father's passing.  First was Edward, son of Henry and his third wife, Jane Seymour.  He got to go first.  But he died after a few years, still being rather young.  Then Lady Jane Grey, whom Protestant Edward nominated as successor to keep his Catholic Sister Mary (daughter of Henry and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon) off the throne.  That worked for 9 days, before Mary's army overcame Jane's and had her sent to the Tower and later beheaded.  Mary made life very difficult for Protestants during her reign, which earned her the nickname "Bloody Mary".

But she eventually died too, and the throne went to her sister, Elizabeth (daughter of Henry and his second wife, Anne Boleyn).  Some say she was as ruthless, or more so, to the Catholics as her sister Mary had been to the Protestants.

I feel Mr. Gortner has captured the period well - the intrigue, the rivalries, the shifting loyalties and the differences between the experiences of the upper and lower classes.  Even people you considered your friends could turn on you if defending you meant a lessening of their station.  If I had lived at the court of the time, I'd either have played the game with the best of them, or shortly after arrival, start haunting the Tower.

At the start of The Tudor Vendetta, the MC Brendan is in Basel, Switzerland, in exile.  He is learning to be an 'intelligencer' in the service of the then-Princess Elizabeth.  When she becomes Queen, he and his mentor are recalled to court at Whitehall.  Much talk is dedicated to getting The Virgin Queen married and to produce an heir.  Mary, Queen of Scots would be next in line for the throne of England if Elizabeth failed to produce an heir, and Mary was Catholic.

I enjoyed the flow of the story and the language used - in my words, formal yet very readable.  (OK.  There were a couple of words starting with 'c', used to describe women, that I didn't care for, and that might offend some people.) Some people shy away from Shakespeare's plays because of the language and expressions.  The Tudor Vendetta could make the late Medieval and Renaissance years available to a wider audience and that is wonderful!

Even all those 'alphabet agencies' dealing with our national security with computers, satellites and other types of electronic surveillance would have trouble keeping up with the intrigue at and around a Tudor court.  Mr. Gortner has made it understandable and exciting for us in the comfort of our favorite reading environments.  Well done!



C.W. GORTNER holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California, as well as an AA from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco.

After an eleven year-long career in fashion, during which he worked as a vintage retail buyer, freelance publicist, and fashion show coordinator, C.W. devoted the next twelve years to the public health sector. In 2012, he became a full-time writer following the international success of his novels.

In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard at Hampton Court, learned about organic gardening at Chenoceaux, and spent a chilly night in a ruined Spanish castle. His books have garnered widespread acclaim and been translated into twenty-one languages to date, with over 400,000 copies sold. A sought-after public speaker. C.W. has given keynote addresses at writer conferences in the US and abroad. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights, in particular companion animal rescue to reduce shelter overcrowding.

C.W. recently completed his fourth novel for Ballantine Books, about Lucrezia Borgia; the third novel in his Tudor Spymaster series for St Martin’s Press; and a new novel about the dramatic, glamorous life of Coco Chanel, scheduled for lead title publication by William Morrow, Harper Collins, in the spring of 2015.

Half-Spanish by birth and raised in southern Spain, C.W. now lives in Northern California with his partner and two very spoiled rescue cats.


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(Disclosure:  I received a copy of "The Tudor Vendetta" from the author and publisher via Historial Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.)


  1. I really want to read this one! This is such an interesting time in history.

  2. This sounds like a really awesome historical fiction. I definitely need to read more of this type of thing, so I hope to be able to read this soon, especially as you loved it so much. It's nice to know someone likes the Tudor times ^.^