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The Secret Lion by C.W. Gortner
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's review
Oct 30, 10

Read in October, 2010

The Secret Lion is the first novel in the Spymaster Chronicles by C.W. Gortner, writer of historical fiction.

The Secret Lion is set in 1553 at the height of scandal in the Tudor dynasty and follows Queen Elizabeth and her lover Robert Dudley. Our main protagonist is Brendan Prescott, a man of lowly rank who serves the Dudley household and becomes part of a plot to save Queen Elizabeth when her brother King Edward VI mysteriously disappears. The loyal Brendan functions as a spy, and we soon learn that his humble yet intelligent character is worth more at court than his supposed rank.

The Secret Lion has a most intriguing premise; after all, who isn't in love with reading about the Tudor family? The plot summary pulls you in, however there's only so many new, fictional twists, spins and speculation you can put on one of the most interesting families in history.

I grew bored with this novel pretty quickly despite its short length of 248 trade paperback-size pages. The story is easy to predict and doesn't really leave much room or creativity in terms of suspense. The characters and their dialogue are more corny, cheesy and melodramatic than the style of old-world class usually prevalent in historical fiction, and I'm simply disappointed at how this novel really lacks mystery and intrigue.

I've noticed that Gortner holds a type of cult-following in the historical fiction book world, and I respect him for that. I'm also willing to read some of his other titles, which include The Last Queen: A Novel of Juana La Loca (2006), The Confessions of Catherine de Medici (2010), and the soon-to-be released The Tudor Secret (2011).

If anyone is looking for amazing historical fiction on the Tudor dynasty, I highly recommend reading The Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers (1986) by Margaret George and novels by Philippa Gregory including The Other Boleyn Girl (2001) and The Virgin's Lover (2004).

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Holly Kench Oh good. Scrolling through the reviews I was worried I might be the only person in the world to find this book completely disappointing.

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