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4.12  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,169 Ratings  ·  160 Reviews

The much-praised Legacy offers an exquisite psychological portrait of the Queen who defined an era, beloved and touted by readers for its stunning storytelling and intriguing take on the monarch's life. From the spectacular era that bears her name comes the mesmerizing story of Elizabeth I: her tragic childhood; her ruthless confrontations with Mary, Queen of Scots; and he

Hardcover, 648 pages
Published March 23rd 1986 by Crown (first published 1983)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mar 16, 2011 Misfit rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in Elizabeth Tudor
I'd give it 10 stars if I could!! AWESOME! An absolutely brilliant portrayal of Elizabeth I. The only thing I've ever seen come close to capturing Elizabeth so clearly and brilliantly is the old Masterpiece Theatre series on PBS done back in 70's or 80's with Glenda Jackson. All the charaterizations in the book are incredibly well drawn and detailed, particulary Elizabeth, Dudley and Cecil.

The author also has a wonderful way of describing the times, the scenes, the clothes, etc. The author's op
Aug 29, 2014 Kay rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
This book is the reason why I buy almost all of my books rather than borrowing from friends or the library.

I first read this book when I was in middle school. I borrowed it from the library, lost myself in the dangerous and glittering world of court intrigue and politics, and read it in a little over two sittings. It also happened to be that this was one of the last books I read before we moved to a different state. In that hectic time, I returned the book to the library almost as soon as I fin
Who doesn’t know about Elizabeth Tudor? Whether it is for her famous mother, her pirate conquests, or her many (supposed) lovers; the Virgin Queen has titillated for centuries. Susan Kay’s “Legacy” attempts to present Elizabeth from the eyes of men in her life, both romantic and political.

Susan Kay’s “Legacy” felt like two separate books (which could be argued as a lack of cohesive tact). The early chapters were much too disjointed with an overall look at events in Elizabeth’s early life (and th
Rio (Lynne)
May 29, 2012 Rio (Lynne) rated it really liked it
3.75 Stars. The author didn't make Elizabeth out to be the perfect heroine, like most HF authors do today, which was a positive. The story is seen through the eyes of the men in her life, letting you see all sides of Elizabeth. I simply didn't get attached to the characters or even Elizabeth (which I usually do) so I wasn't emotionally attached to this read. I am very familiar with Elizabeth's reign, so even though parts of this book didn't flow, I had no problem following. The writing style jus ...more
This novel had, even before I finished reading it, the requirements for having a place in my favourite books. Now that I’ve finished, I’m glad to confirm that it is firmly placed in such a place.

I don’t know if I’ll ever read any other novel set in this time period, but in any case I have this feeling that Legacy has forever altered my expectation of Tudor historical novels—that is to say, has ruined me forever for any other such novel—because if I didn’t have great expectations about them befor
This is an amazing masterpiece of historical fiction. The dust jacket on my copy says that Susan Kay worked on this novel for fifteen years. I can say it honestly felt like she did. The history is comprehensive, the characterizations of the historical figures are vivid and realistic, the insight and motivations Kay offers for them are interesting and each character is realistic, three dimensional and matures over time.

This is not a quick and breezy beach read by any stretch of the imagination,
Rebecca Huston
A book that I was very happy to see come back into print last year. Smart, well-written account of Queen Elizabeth I from the cradle to the grave, and the various personalities, plots and achievements in her life. I think this one is my favourite of all the various fictional accounts of Elizabeth, both because of the dialog, which is very believable, the characters, whom the author does not short, and Elizabeth herself, depicted with her jealousy, temper tantrums and ability to connive intact. A ...more
Legacy, for me, was historical fiction gold: a book I loved as a teenager which was just as wonderful second time around. It's a cradle-to-grave retelling of the life of Elizabeth I, and it's 647 pages of class.

The prologue introduces Elizabeth as a troubled young princess, imprisoned in the Tower of London by her sister Mary and facing possible execution as a traitor:

She sat on a low stone window-seat, wrapped in a cloak against the creeping cold and, like the solitary stone pillar that support
Jun 16, 2012 Lynn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow, what a book! For me this book did a remarkable job of telling the story of Queen Elizabeth's life, it was well written, intriguing and the author kept the story moving. This book is broken down into five different areas of Elizabeth's life, The Girl, The Woman, The Queen, The Goddess and The Effigy. What I took away from reading this book was: how strong and intelligent Elizabeth was, she spoke six different languages and was more intelligent than most men of her time. How Elizabeth had a t ...more
This is an excellent novel by Susan Kay depicting the life of Elizabeth from early childhood, with a precarious struggle through adolescence, her sister Mary's suspicions of disloyalty, her imprisonment in the Tower through Traitor's Gate from which few, very few ever emerged from alive until finally, she reaches, against all odds, the throne of England. It's a story of survival and the emotional effects of dealing with three men that figure prominently in her life: Thomas Seymour, the Lord High ...more
Christy English
Sep 07, 2010 Christy English rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had the pleasure of reading this novel when it came out in the 80's, and the book has stood the test of time. A beautiful novel, and a beautiful portrait of Elizabeth I. This novel is the definitive version of Elizabeth for me.
Sherry H
This book explores the life of Elizabeth I, focusing, according to the summary, on her relationships with three key men in her life (Thomas Seymour, Robert Dudley, William Cecil). Or was it Dudley, Cecil and Essex? Or was it Phillip of Spain, Dudley and James of Scotland? Let's just say that there were more than "three men whose destinies belonged to her alone."

The first third of the book, about her childhood and ascension to the throne, were very interesting. I knew how it would turn out, but s
Outstanding. This is probably the most intelligently written novel I've read of Elizabeth I. Meticulously researched, Kay's character version of Elizabeth is nothing short of a psychological analysis. Kay adds her own fictional elements to further allow the reader a deep dive into Elizabeth's soul, giving an imagined makeup of her persona. The Elizabeth we see in this novel is a cunning survivor, forever depending on her fierce intellect to remain alive for three reigns before finally inheriting ...more
Nov 03, 2007 Alicia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those obsessed with Elizabeth & the Earl of Leicester
Well-researched, very engaging look at Elizabeth I. The author took 10 years to write it and yet somehow resisted the urge to drown the reader in detailed descriptions of the era. Something I've no doubt I could not have resisted, & actually wished for more of. However, she does a remarkable job of creating a psychological portrait of Elizabeth, reconstructing pivotal events through the viewpoints of the 3 principals she focuses on: E., Robert Dudley (the Earl of L.), & William Cecil (la ...more
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: 5 stars for excellent.

Legacy is a historical fiction account of the life of Elizabeth I. From the beginnings of her parents relationship and her mother's execution, to Elizabeth's dismal childhood, and to her coronation and reign as Elizabeth I.
Legacy's intention is to portray a dimensional Elizabeth. A strong-willed and defiant personality, a passionate person, a desire to love and be loved, shrewd and resilient, savvy and intelligent.
Elizabeth's relationsh
Rating: 3.5 stars Review to follow.

Buddy read with Jemidar, Rio, Orsolya, Tom, Lynn and Jackleen :-)

Jul 24, 2008 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Lilly Flora
The best book on Elizabeth`s story, highly recommended to everyone. ...more
Gail Amendt
Although I have read a lot about the Tudors, most of it has been about Henry VIII and his many wives, and I have never read a book about his daughter, Elizabeth I. I knew that I wanted to read a really good book about this great queen, not just any book about her, and with all the good reviews of this novel, I thought I had found that really good book. Unfortunately this book left me feeling somewhat disappointed. It's not that it was a poorly researched piece of fluff like so many books written ...more

Coming into this book, I’d yet to read a definitive novel of Elizabeth’s life, something which seemed a bit of a mystery, as Elizabeth is one of the most well known figures of history. Having read Margaret George’s Elizabeth last year, I was impressed with the quality of writing and the vivid detail in which Elizabeth and her times were rendered, but I couldn’t help feeling a tiny bit disappointed that the novel only covered the autumn and winter of Elizabeth’s life, from the 1588 armada onwards
Aug 01, 2009 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone wanting to read something fairly close to the truth
Highly recommended life of Elizabeth, far better than most historical fiction. I've had my copy for years and have read it countless times. It's well-researched and weaves some intriguing ideas into the story of Elizabeth's life and reign. For example, it suggests that Elizabeth deliberately put the catastrophic Darnley onto Mary's path, confident she'd fall for him and that he would prove enough of a problem to prevent Mary having time to covet Elizabeth's throne. It also suggests a solution to ...more
Dec 31, 2010 Gaile rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 16th-century
Very early in life the axe hung over the head of this young girl. It was enough to give her nightmares, cause physical illnesses and forever associate being under a man's control with death.
Elizabeth wanted either war or executions. Once she secured the crown after surviving her sister's Mary's reign by the skin of her teeth, Elizabeth put the welfare of her subjects first. Like a mother, she was willing to lie, cheat and even execute (something she always hated to even think about) to secure th
Heather Natola
I am not sure how to rate this

I bought this book thinking it would be more of a historical perspective on Queen Elizabeth but it is a novelization of her life. The book started out rough and I almost didn't continue. I stuck to it and I'm glad I did but I read it alternating between wanting it to end and not being able to put it down. In the end, I'm glad i finished it, but I could have done with about 150 fewer pages.
Oct 12, 2014 Sharon rated it it was amazing
When you know that this book was 15 years in the making, it comes as no surprise that author Susan Kay's meticulous research paid off.

Kay presents the mercurial Elizabeth I, starting with the day of her mother's execution and ending with her death. The queen was politically shrewd, as we know from history books, but Kay presents a woman terrified of marriage because of her mother's (and stepmothers') deaths at the hands of her father -- and yet one who craves love. Her relationship with Robert D
The first half is a definite 5 stars… the second half 4... and I wasn't very fond of the ending... more thoughts to come later. But its definitely. The best book I have read on Elizabeth.
Apr 08, 2011 Lin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book many years ago and loved it. My first book was a library book and now that they have reprinted it - I own it. Still the best book on Elizabeth.
Aug 31, 2013 Tanya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed reading this book! It is a historical fiction detailing Queen Elizabeth I life. Very entertaining read!
Tricia Saucier
Sep 07, 2013 Tricia Saucier rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am a bit of a fanatic about Elizabeth I. This is one of the best books about her life that I have ever read.

Buddy read with Anna, Rio (Lynne), Orsolya, Tom, Lynn and Jackleen :-).
Dec 22, 2014 KJ rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh, how I wish "Legacy" had a glossary or a character index or something. Everyone is named some variant of Thomas, Robert, Cecil, or Mary, and some characters' names change with their titles. The second half of the book became almost impenetrable.

That said, the moments I could follow were good. The complex ins and outs of the life of Elizabeth I is almost too much for a single novel to contain, but when Kay gets it right, it's gorgeously wrought. Vain, manipulative, insufferable sometimes, but
May 05, 2012 Marg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome book!
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Tudor History Lovers: Legacy by Susan Kay 8 87 Jul 23, 2014 02:58AM  
  • Gay Lord Robert (Tudor Saga, #11)
  • Elizabeth and the Prince of Spain (Elizabeth Trilogy, #3)
  • The Concubine
  • His Last Letter: Elizabeth I and the Earl of Leicester
  • Within the Fetterlock
  • A Lady Raised High: A Novel of Anne Boleyn
  • Her Highness, the Traitor
  • King's Fool: A Notorious King, His Six Wives, and the One Man Who Knew All Their Secrets
  • I Am Mary Tudor (Mary Tudor, #1)
Susan Kay (b. 1953) is a writer.

She is most known for her book, Phantom, which expands upon the history of Erik, the character from Gaston Leroux's The Phantom of the Opera, in an episodic format of seven chapters from different characters' points of view.

Susan Kay did not travel to Iran to research the novel, although she did research in person at the Paris Opera House.

Her first novel was Legacy,
More about Susan Kay...

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“He saw the Queen and saw her for the first time with the mask of friendship removed, a figure suddenly as ruthless and terrible as ever her father had been... All their dazzling intimacy was an illusion, a mere straw in the wind, for in the last resort he was but a subject, as her mother had been.” 4 likes
“Men like Robin were never content, and men like Robin were all she would ever love, grasping, ambitious reflections of herself... He would begin to plot and scheme behind her back, building up a court faction... To emerge from that final conflict as the victor, it would be necessary to kill him. And she knew she was capable of doing it-- it was as simple as that.” 3 likes
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