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The Tudor Secret (The Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles)
by C. W. Gortner

Published: 2011-02-01
Paperback : 352 pages
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Summer 1553: A time of danger and deceit. Brendan Prescott, an orphan, is reared in the household of the powerful Dudley family. Brought to court, Prescott finds himself sent on an illicit mission to the king’s brilliant but enigmatic sister, Princess Elizabeth. But Brendan is soon compelled to ...
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Introduction

Summer 1553: A time of danger and deceit. Brendan Prescott, an orphan, is reared in the household of the powerful Dudley family. Brought to court, Prescott finds himself sent on an illicit mission to the king’s brilliant but enigmatic sister, Princess Elizabeth. But Brendan is soon compelled to work as a double agent by Elizabeth’s protector, William Cecil, who promises in exchange to help him unravel the secret of his own mysterious past. A dark plot swirls around Elizabeth’s quest to unravel the truth about the ominous disappearance of her seriously ill brother, King Edward VI. With only a bold stable boy and an audacious lady-in-waiting at his side, Brendan plunges into a ruthless gambit of half-truths, lies, and murder. Filled with the intrigue and pageantry of Tudor England, The Tudor Secret is the first book in The Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles.

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Excerpt

WHITEHALL, 1553
Chapter One
Like everything important in life, it began with a journey—the road to London, to be exact, my first excursion to that most fascinating and sordid of cities.
We started out before daybreak, two men on horseback. I had never been farther than Worcestershire, which made Master Shelton’s arrival with my summons all the more unexpected. I scarcely had time to pack my few belongings and bid farewell to the servants (including sweet Annabel, who’d wept as if her heart might break) before I was riding from Dudley Castle, where I’d spent my entire life, unsure of when, or if, I would return again. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

From the author:

1. The Tudor Secret takes place during the succession crisis of 1553. What did you discover about England at this time? Who were the major players and what were their motivations?
2. Brendan Prescott is a fictional character with a secret. Like many servants of the time, he is entrusted with his master’s private information. What were some of the possible repercussions he could have suffered for his actions? If you had been in his place, what might you have done?
3. Elizabeth Tudor is one of history’s most popular figures. Why do you think she continues to exert such fascination, so many years after her life?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

Note from author C.W. Gortner:

The Tudor era is an especially dynamic place to explore, in that within a relatively short span of time so much happened politically and socially. The drama, intrigue and tumult of the Tudors have, for good reason, captured generation after generation of readers; it seems there’s always something new to discover about them. I knew that William Cecil and Francis Walsingham developed one of the most sophisticated intelligence systems in the world on behalf of the embattled queen, who faced enemies both in England and abroad for most of her long reign. But I’d never stopped to consider the details of what being a Tudor spy might entail, or what the seeds of that service might have looked like before Elizabeth assumed her throne. While the Tudors have been covered from nearly every angle, nothing I’d read explored the possibility that Elizabeth may have had her own secret spy, someone devoted to her special interests— and someone who ended up becoming her close friend. Within a few days, I began to draft the outline for this novel, featuring a spy who becomes the secret confidant and protector of Elizabeth, rousing the enmity of her lover, Robert Dudley, even as the spy uncovers a key to his past that threatens the kingdom’s, and Elizabeth’s, future.

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