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The Tudor Vendetta, Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles, Offers Suspense, Espionage, and Compelling Prose

Please join C.W. Gortner as he tours online for the release of the third book in his Spymaster Chronicles Series, The Tudor Vendetta, stopping here today for my REVIEW, and enter to win a complete set of the trilogy below!

02_The Tudor Vendetta

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of C.W. Gortner’s writing and he’s on my list of favorite writers. His work, primarily the first Spymaster book, The Tudor Secret, along with Michelle Moran’s The Heretic Queen, helped launch me back into the exciting world of historical fiction after reading so much non-fiction. I found Christopher to be an amazing writer and I highly anticipated the rest of his Spymaster series. Since then he’s continue to thrill me with his writing style. It’s one that allows you to immerse fully in the story, forgetting to eat or drink and burning the midnight oil (or 4 a.m. oil) without feeling a thing.

In my personal opinion, The Tudor Vendetta, is the best one yet! It’s packed completely full of action and intrigue which far surpasses the others and those were great! I think Christopher pushes himself to bigger and better things with each book.

Brendan Prescott, who is a spy (and secretly of the Tudor line) for the interests of Elizabeth Tudor, opens the novel in record speed as he is being trained in physical techniques by Cecil and propelled right back into court intrigue. The political scene is ripe as Elizabeth is about to finally take the throne after her sister Mary and everyone wants a piece of England. I liked that the beginning of the book had a wealth of action this time and started off with a mystery without any delay. I honestly never wanted to put the book down from the start and read in two sittings, longing for it when I was away from it. Tim even said, “I see you looking at that book, you want to read more of it, don’t you?” Ha!

I was fully captivated by the suspense, intrigue, and savvy game play of the novel. Brendan was quicker, smarter, more confident, and completely sure of himself as he set off on his secret mission for Elizabeth, one that even Cecil and Walsingham do not even know about! I loved the setting and storyline of Brendan’s mission this time and was immersed in the mystery. I even felt a bit of Agatha Christie in the Elizabethan world!

Christopher’s details, atmosphere, and character development is nothing sort of stunning with each location and each character whether lead or supporting, but his plot structure is even more superb. I am not easy to fool, but Christopher kept me guessing and surprised me several times over! I was blown away by the last half of the novel and found myself on pins and needles to know the outcome(s).

As always with Christopher’s novels, I enjoyed his use of animals and his kind care to construct their characters. Anyone who can make an animal in a book fully dimensional as Christopher does is a writer with extreme talent and with the utmost of compassion. Of course I have always loved Brendan’s horse Cinnabar, but the time C.W. takes to make sure characters care for the animals is something I really admire. I also love when he introduces new pets, and I really enjoyed Bardolf, the mastiff!

I enjoyed the use of Vaughn Hall and his depictions of the scenery inside and out that lent to an atmospheric air of gloom or mystery that fit perfectly with the story. I also valued his historical accuracy and lesson in showcasing how outlying nobility had been made poor and why, the state of England during this time of turmoil, and though he mentions the religious strife between Protestants and Catholics I’m glad he didn’t let it weigh down the story.

As many historical fiction works of the Tudor time period can be dark, gray, brutally honest, morbid, and quite sad, I enjoyed reading Christopher’s tale that he created with more light than we usually get from this time period, even allowing Elizabeth to be viewed as sympathetic, smiling, and caring. The story line is completely fabricated, but I didn’t care, and I hope others don’t either, as it was just a very entertaining read using historical figures of a favorite time period. And certainly any of it could have happened, it certainly read with authenticity and plausibility!

Most of all, Christopher writes, as usual, with a robust vocabulary I appreciate, smooth phrasing, pristine sentences, flawless imagery, and well….what can I say, perfection. The Tudor Vendetta is like the best coffee you ever had on the best morning you’ve ever had, as it carries a huge jolt of caffeinated page-turning suspense with the luscious, creamy, smoothy taste of the best wordsmithing and plot pointing in historical fiction.

If you are a fan of espionage and mystery as I am (I love Bond, Le Carre, Christie) and love historical settings, I highly recommend you give this series a try, but read them all, and savor this one. I don’t know if Christopher will write more, but I’ll BEG him too!! My life will not be complete without more Spymaster books. Maybe if Brendan is settled, another trusted friend could appear. I mean with Elizabeth I just taking the throne, and her astrologer Dee coming into the picture, there is A LOT more espionage to be had! I for one, want more intrigue to be lost in.

Thanks,Christopher, for writing one of the best historical fiction and historical espionage set of books ever. Really nothing compares. I can’t give away the ending, but for once I could put a Tudor book down and feel happy!!

To my reviews from the rest of the series and some interviews I’ve conducted with Christopher:

The Tudor Secret (book one)

The Tudor Conspiracy (book two)

Interview 1 with Gortner (after The Queen’s Vow review)

Interview 2 with Gortner

02_The Tudor VendettaThe Tudor Vendetta, Synopsis~

Publication Date: October 21, 2014
St. Martin’s Press
Formats: eBook, Paperback

Series: Spymaster Chronicles
Genre: Historical Mystery

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.

Praise for The Tudor Vendetta~

“Fast paced and exciting, with a most engaging hero . . . So vivid, you feel are there!” – Diana Gabaldon, bestselling author of the Outlander series

“C.W. Gortner has done it again! Full of breathtaking action, dark twists and unexpected revelations, this is an unputdownable read.” – Michelle Moran, bestselling author of Madame Tussaud

“Suspense, intrigue, betrayal and deadly rivalry: What more can you ask for? A swashbuckling, perilous adventure.” – M.J. Rose, bestselling author of The Reincarnationist

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To win the complete set of C.W. Gortner’s Spymaster Chronicles Trilogy please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway here. Giveaway is open to US residents only and ends at 11:59 p.m. on November 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter. Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on November 29th and notified via email. Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen. Tour giveaway by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

C.W. Gortner, Biography~

03_CW GortnerC.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; this 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.

For more information please visit C.W. Gortner’s website and blog. You can also connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and YouTube.

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C.W. Gortner’s “The Tudor Secret” a Must Read for Intrigue Fans

The Tudor Secret, by C.W. Gortner, was an amazing cache of intrigue and suspicion!! It’s one of the BEST books I’ve read in a very long time. If you think the Tudor era is overdone and all has been said, THINK AGAIN! 

Though plenty of books about Elizabeth I or Henry the VIII line the shelves of many bookstores and libraries, Gortner’s work of historical fiction spins an original yarn about an orphan boy, Brendan Prescott, who has a birthmark which supports that he has possible royal lineage. Does he?  Is he being used as a pawn to the advancement of others?

Court life is brutal and Prescott is about to find that out when he becomes a servant in the Dudley household.  Before he knows it, he is a double spy and reeling with the fact that he is on a mission for Elizabeth I, the intelligent sister of the young Edward VI.  Strangled with the urge to know his own family secret, he agrees to being eyes and ears at court for William Cecil, Elizabeth’s protector, in exchange for Cecil helping him to unravel his past.

He discovers that whispers and secrets abound at court, during this turbulent time after Henry VIII’s death, and no one can be trusted. At times in the novel, Prescott  is uncertain who he is even spying for, yet his own heart is always true to Elizabeth I and her safety.

The Tudor Secret is so full of suspense that pages will turn like they are on FIRE. Your finger will refuse to let you stop turning pages. You won’t want to put this book down for fear you will miss something. When you do put it down, it will still have you wondering so much about its twists and turns that you’ll want to pick it back up again and read until you know the secret!

The book gives superb insight into the personalities of Elizabeth and Mary Tudor in their younger years surrounding the time of their brother, King Edward VI’s, death in 1553.  The inner-family struggle for the crown, the religious turmoil and fracturing, the struggle of the people of England, the love/hate relationship of Elizabeth and Robert Dudley (son to John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland) and the conniving ways of the court all lend to this tale as the author is a master at presenting us espionage and intrigue.

Gortner’s historical novel is the first book in his new Elizabeth I spymaster chronicles. The book ends with the secret known to only the Prescott character, and a few others, and is set-up for readers to be ready to delve into more spies, lies, and espionage in the next book as Prescott becomes a spy in Mary I’s court.

If a book doesn’t grab me in the first 10 pages, I won’t read it, but this one certainly DID have my full attention. I thoroughly enjoyed the guessing game this book laid out for me from the beginning. It made me remember how much I LOVE this era of English history.

This has been one of my favorite books of the last 10 years and I can’t wait for more to come in this series. Gortner has to be considered one of the TOP historical fiction novelists of the century.

Bio of C.W. Gortner, Author of The Tudor Secret~

C.W. GORTNER holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California.

In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard in a Tudor great hall and experienced life in a Spanish castle. His novels have garnered international praise and been translated into thirteen languages to date. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights and environmental issues.

He’s currently at work on his third novel, about Isabella of Castile, and the second novel in his Tudor series,The Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles (US) or Elizabeth’s Spymaster (UK).

Half-Spanish by birth, C.W. lives in Northern California.  You can contact him at: cwgortner[at]earthlink.net and across many social networking channels.  For more information about this book and author, you can go to the author’s website at www.cwgortner.com.  Gortner enjoys talking to book groups and will even chat via speaker phone or Skype.

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