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The Queen's Bastard (Inheritors' Cycle #1)

3.11  ·  Rating Details ·  1,144 Ratings  ·  132 Reviews
“Wow. C. E. Murphy is good. Court intrigue in an alternate Elizabethan-era fantasy world: realpolitik with the sex included.”
–Kate Elliott, author of Crown of Stars

In a world where religion has ripped apart the old order, Belinda Primrose is the queen’s secret weapon. The unacknowledged daughter of Lorraine, the first queen to sit on the Aulunian throne, Belinda has been t
Kindle Edition, 448 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Deanna Roberts
I must first say that C.E. Murphy is probably one of my favorite authors. Her Joanne Walker books are incredible and her other series equally enjoyable.

This book, however, fell FAR short of my expectations. The writing was good, don't get me wrong, but her main character had absolutely NO redeeming factors. I kept turning the pages to find some good aspect to Belinda/Beatrice and I kept being denied any reason to like her.

This is one series that I will not finish. I was sorely disappointed.
Jun 24, 2008 Angela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
There are times when I read a book so well-put together, so deliciously complex, and so generally OH-MY-inducing that I despair of ever trying to write anything as good, much less sell it. The Queen's Bastard, latest offering from the redoubtable C.E. Murphy, is one of those times.

For starters, the setting is quite unusual for a fantasy novel. This thing is basically alternate history fantasy--all the names have been changed, but any reader will definitely recognize Europe of the 16th century he
Errr, I dunno, I'm listing this book here because I like this author and this book for SOME reasons, and don't like it a lot for others. This book started out VERY interesting with a complex heroine and some interesting world-building, an alternate Elizabethan-Era world with some magic thrown in. There were a lot of confusing turns though, and some outright left-field character behavior that made it VERY hard to plow through and continue the journey with the main character. I dunno, I might read ...more
Ben Babcock
In many ways delicious, The Queen's Bastard is a well-written, evocative piece of alternate-Elizabethan-era fantasy. Unfortunately, defects in both its plot and its characters detract from the otherwise beautiful prose of C.E. Murphy.

At first I enjoyed the stalwart strength of the protagonist, Belinda Primrose. An unacknowledged bastard of Lorraine (Elizabeth), Queen of Aulun (England), she has been raised and trained as an assassin by her father, Robert Drake (Francis Drake). Belinda is, in ess
This book looks like a romance version of The Assassin's Apprentice. It is set in a thinly veiled version of the late 16th century (pretty much the only difference are the names--the redheaded, married to her country, virgin queen of a misty island is named "Lorraine," for instance) and follows the hidden struggle for supremacy. The main character is the secret, bastard daughter of "Lorraine" and her spymaster. Belinda spends the entirety of the book manipulating, killing, and spying in the cour ...more
The Flooze
All the right elements are in place in The Queen's Bastard: court intrigue, the lust for both flesh and power, tested loyalties, supernatural abilities. And yet, despite the inherent possibilities, the book does not deliver. The tale is long-winded, the characters unsympathetic, and the political intrigue lackluster at best. I found myself barely skimming large passages of text. The only intriguing tidbit comes at the end in Belinda's glimpse into the origins of her powers-but even the strange i ...more
April Erwin
Jul 15, 2008 April Erwin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I hated this book. I know, strong words. I really enjoyed C.E. Murphy's Negotiator series, and was intrigued by the concept of Queen's Bastard. Instead, I found myself cringing my way through the story. It wasn't so much the technical writing that disturbed me, as the story itself. I was disgusted and totally turned off by the main characters' change in personalitay as she came into her powers. I actually tossed this one into the trash. I guess there really is a first time for everything. Now,if ...more
Yuck. Yuck yuck yuck.
Mar 17, 2014 Tia rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The Short of It: Would absolutely not recommend; filled with horribly offensive sexual assault scenes in an attempt to add interest to unbearable, unimaginative plot and characters.

The Long of It:

I found this book for $1.00 on the clearance shelves of Half Priced Books, so I wasn't expecting much.

As I started the book, though, I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the writing and storytelling. C.E. Murphy is no schmuck - she knows how to string together words better than your average Joe
Feb 23, 2009 Liriel27 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one; those who enjoy hating the protagonist
I hate the protagonist and want her to die slowly and painfully. I doubt this was the author's intent. Pick a direction and go - either she is a young woman making the best of a difficult situation and eventually heading for redemption, or she is manipulative scum and always will be. She can't be both.

I have cheerfully removed this book from my home and will not be following this series.

For similar topics (intrigue, supernatural alternate histories, kinky sex) handled much more gracefully, see t
Jul 04, 2012 Barbara rated it it was ok
Shelves: sf
This book is loosely based on the reign of Elizabeth I in England with alternates for Mary, Queen of Scots and an anachronistic Catherine the Great in Russia. The title character is the bastard daughter of Elizabeth and the Robert Dudley equivalent (so much for the Virgin Queen). She is raised in secret and trained to be a loyal spy and assassin.

This book is well written. The author doesn't shy away from the grim and occasionally downright ugly aspects of life in such a society, especially for w
Feb 18, 2015 Serena rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I admit that I have noticed a certain trend lately in (historical?) fantasy, perhaps most obvious with The War of the Roses and A Game of Thrones, but there is also Crown of Stars to the tune of William the Conqueror's era, and Kushiel's Dart set during Ptolemaic Dynasty in which Cleopatra's children seemed to survive to be rulers ("Ptolemy Dikaios: Pharaoh of Menekhet, husband of Clytemne") in which the main character lives in what is now France.

C.E. Murphy is the first I think to hint toward
3 Stars...I liked it

WoW! What a shocker this book was! There were times I loved it and times I didn't like it. I had to put it down a few times just to get through it, but I have to rate honestly and say that although it wasn't an easy read (which I don't mind a bit; I love a challenge!) the writing was superb. There are a lot (and I mean a lot) of characters to hold on to and so many plots and places to remember but they all come together (eventually) and it makes it worth the wait.

I will say t
Mar 22, 2009 Victoria rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Victoria by: Joseph
Not nearly as good as I expected it to be. I've read only one other book by C.E. Murphy ("Heart of Stone") and it was erudite, respectful, a little run-of-the-mill, but GOOD.

This book disappointed on every level... most aggravating, though, were the many nagging details that never managed to make sense.

From the premise - a queen who has managed to bear a bastard daughter who acts as her spy, all without anyone suspecting - to a main character with a long wig of her own hair, despite having worn
Aug 16, 2009 Jennifer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This is not too bad. It's a fictional recreation of Renaissance Europe, with names changed -- England is Aulun, France is Gallin. Paris is Lutetia, which reminded me of Asterix comic books and kept me from taking the thing too seriously, if there were any danger of that. Also there is magic and sex (the main character sleeps with everyone). It is certainly amusing, but this fantasyizing of the setting frees the author of the necessity of historical accuracy (Parisian opera in 1587? Really?) and ...more
♆ BookAddict  ✒ La Crimson Femme
God this book was hard for me to finish. I still enjoyed it. Belinda Primrose, I really liked this character. I hated the queen, Lorraine. She's a selfish cunt. Belinda is the perfect daughter and how she's raised is so inhumane. The intrigue and politics in this book is complex and devious. This is a step different than the usual Ms. Murphy books. I'm not sure if I will be able to read the next book. The amount of political maneuvering is a bit overwhelming. There are so many questions I have t ...more
Apr 21, 2009 Katie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009-reads
This book disappointed me. I got a about half way through and realized that I didn't like a single character in the book. It made it a real chore to finish. In fact, I actually had to force myself to finish the last 100 pages. I am planning on reading the next book, The Pretender's Crown, but I'm not looking forward to it except maybe to see if a few of the characters find a redeeming quality or two.
Jul 15, 2009 Richard rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, heroine
I had a hard time trying to finish this book.

I thought it would be more fantasy, but I think it was just more 1700/1800 England with a bit of magic. There is a lot of politics, which probably didn't help me like it any more.

Also, it felt like the story was rather forced. Maybe the story arc in the other books make it better... but so far, it's pretty dull.

Maybe if I run out of things to read, I'll pick up the other books in the series.
erm...well this is smuttier than anticipated...

*Edit* and in the end it just wasn't for me. Not only was it too much graphic sex than I'm aiming for these days, but I really wasn't liking the protagonist. Maybe she will get less evil but I flipped through and it doesn't look like much.

Too bad but I'll still keep buying C.E. Murphy's other series'.
Mar 27, 2009 Juliana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A friend called this Assassin's Apprentice meets Kushiel's Legacy. Indeed it is, but it's their weird dysfunctional offspring. I didn't find the protagonist all that sympathetic; given the opportunity she's pretty relentless in using people as she's been used. It was okay for a different sort of fantasy read, but I don't think I'll be reading the sequel.
In a world where religion has ripped apart the old order, Belinda Primrose is the queen's secret weapon.

Cunning and alluring, Belinda can seduce at will and kill if she must--but her spying takes on a new twist when her witchlight appears....
Meeleah Rey
Mar 23, 2017 Meeleah Rey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I can understand the motivation of a successful author who wishes to create a surprising (read: shocking) series to keep readers interested. I get it. This book was a trip. There are no wholesome characters, no real "good" guy, and truly no proper explanation for why these characters behave in destructive, abusive, debasing ways. You might have seen that I gave this four stars. This is not a happy book, but if you don't need a happy ending and can find entertainment in reading the
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 30, 2011 Jessie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
So disappointed with this book. Let me start off by saying this was probably one of the oldest books on my TBR. Since about 2008, yeah. Now the thing was, since I had bought The Queen’s Bastard, I’ve actually have always been really excited about it. So obviously, the fact that I had never gotten to it sooner is a bit of a surprise. However, as I said The Queen’s Bastard was a disappointment.

First and foremost, I couldn’t really connect to Belinda. Something with her personality was lacking. Her
Sep 01, 2008 Kim rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of alternate world history NOT sensitive to violence
Shelves: fantasy
This is probably the most negative review I will ever write for a book of this quality. In fact, The Queen's Bastard has a fascinating setting inspired by Renaissance Europe and plenty of political intrigue, and is pretty well written. Not only will I probably read other books by this author, I might even read other books in the series . . .IF there is a different protagonist. I actually enjoy reading about characters I would not like in daily life: thieves (Offutt's Shadowspawn and Feist's Jimm ...more
Dec 03, 2012 Angie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In looking at the author's published dates for books, it makes sense this book isn't her first because the writing has grown up a bit, and the characters are more fleshed out in the sense that it feels like the author is letting them talk, instead of superimposing her own wit and personality on them (as she does especially with Joanne Walker). It's pretty dark, more as a historical fiction than the urban fairytale she's given so much of otherwise.

Since it does come off more as historical fiction
Blodeuedd Finland
Oct 29, 2009 Blodeuedd Finland rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
So I am not entirely sure if this is a fantasy world, or an alternate universe, or alternate timeline. It has the essence of 16th century Europe and there is where she lost me the first time. You see there is with one particular person too much that is the same. Queen Lorraine, who has the same appearance, family history and more as a certain Virgin Queen. It is so obvious that it is her that it is not funny anymore. The rest she hides better and I liked that. But I wish she at least could have ...more
Mar 30, 2010 Jean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
C.E. Murphy really finds a different style here, which is much different from her more fast-paced, high energy urban fantasy series. It's not badly written, but was hard to sink into. The first half of the book is a slow and meandering, almost tedious, introduction of the players and build up of the back story. Even though it's basically an alternate history of 16th century Europe, with all the political talk I was dying for a map, just for a sense of scale and to be ability to solid associate s ...more
Lori Whitwam
I'm not sure whether to call this fantasy, paranormal, or historical fiction! The world is like Renaissance Europe, but the country names are different, but similar to real country names, and the monarchs bear resemblance to real ones.

Anyway, I liked it. I like Belinda's role as spy/assassin, and her discovery of her status as "witchbreed." In some ways she is very loyal and determined, and in others she is totally hedonistic and evil. All of which make her likable to me.

Belinda is the bastard
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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C.E. Murphy is a writer of fantasy novels and short stories. She also writes "action-adventure romance" novels under the pseudonym Cate Dermody, which was her grandmother's maiden name.
More about C.E. Murphy...

Other Books in the Series

Inheritors' Cycle (2 books)
  • The Pretender's Crown (Inheritors' Cycle, #2)

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