Book Tour Review: The Tudor Vendetta by C.W. Gortner

Thursday, November 27, 2014
Title: The Tudor Vendetta
Author: C.W. Gortner
Genre: historical fiction, mystery
Series: The Spymaster Chronicles #3
Pages: 304
Published: October 21 2014
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for review
Rating: 3/5

Upon the death of Mary I (Bloody Mary), Elizabeth I takes the throne and Brendan Prescott is called to aid the young queen amid a realm plunged into chaos and a court rife with conspiracy

London, 1558. Queen Mary is dead, and 25-year old Elizabeth ascends the throne. Summoned to court from exile abroad, Elizabeth’s intimate spy, Brendan Prescott, is reunited with the young queen, as well as his beloved Kate, scheming William Cecil, and arch-rival, Robert Dudley. A poison attempt on Elizabeth soon overshadows her coronation, but before Brendan can investigate, Elizabeth summons him in private to dispatch him on a far more confidential mission: to find her favored lady in waiting, Lady Parry, who has disappeared during a visit to her family manor in Yorkshire.

Upon his arrival at the desolate sea-side manor where Lady Parry was last seen, 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 in Vaughn Hall, the more he learns that in his zeal to uncover the truth, he could be precipitating Elizabeth’s destruction.

From the intrigue-laden passages of Whitehall to a foreboding Catholic manor and the deadly underworld of London, Brendan must race against time to unravel a vendetta that will strike at the very core of his world—a vendetta that could expose a buried past and betray everything he has fought for, including his loyalty to his queen.

The third and last in Gortner's Spymaster Chronicles series, The Tudor Vendetta is a return to form for both main character Brendan Prescott and author C.W. Gortner. In this third book, set four years after the disastrous end of book two (The Tudor Conspiracy), Brendan must once again help his secret cousin gain and keep throne against many enemies, from other kings and queens to secret papist plots and more. Personally up against his most clever foe, Brendan's adventures have lost none of their thrill three books in.

Brendan continues to be a good character and a good fit for this series. His secret lineage was a great reveal in the previous novels, and it continues to neatly play into his current affairs, for both good and ill. His relationship with Kate takes a beating and remains unsettled for much of the time, as it has for two books now, but Brendan actually grows and reflects on his behavior, all to the betterment of their relationship. It's not an easy ride for Brendan in The Tudor Vendetta, but he finds his allies along the way.

The plot of the novel took a weird turn for me around 200 pages in. It was set up as a rather ordinary type of historical mystery about poisons and conspiracies but then turned into unexpected territory. The twist is not the same as the historical record but C.W. Gortner ably backs up his premise, helped by seven years of history spent "in world" with the three book series. I was wary at first, but the author keeps the novel on track even with the surprise additions. However, I did think that the villain "reveal" was a little unrealistic and lessened the impact from a previous novel.

The Tudor Vendetta seems like the end for Brendan, and deservedly. He's repeatedly helped his Queen and cousin and the resolution for Hatfield felt natural and authentic. It's an excellent point to wrap up the series and Gortner's world of intelligencers and spy networks was solid from beginning to the end.

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