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Fatal Majesty

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  339 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
Returning from the sophisticated French court to take up her throne in cold and backward Scotland, 18-year-old Mary finds herself trapped in a web of ambitions and intrigues: those of her self-righteous brother, James, who desires to rule in her place; of her brilliant Secretary of State, Lethington, dedicated to placing the Stuarts on the throne of England; and of Elizabe ...more
Paperback, 640 pages
Published 1998 by Orion
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Sara Giacalone
Oct 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well-written, well-researched and thoroughly enjoyable account of Mary, Queen of Scots. I've read a lot of books about Mary - both fiction and non-fiction - and this one still engaged and educated me. Highly recommended!
Elizabeth Ashworth
This was well researched - almost too well researched because I felt that all the facts got in the way of the story and at times it was difficult to follow who was who. The overview narration prevented me coming close to the feelings and emotions of any of the characters and in the end I was glad to finish it.
Amy Clayton
Dec 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Aug 27, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hugh
Recommended to Carol by: Mom
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I do not normally like historical fiction--I read some of it because I love history and now and then get sucked in; usually, I'm disappointed, either because the scholarship is poor, or the writing is poor, or the author resorts to [gratuitous:] sexually charged scenes (a wise friend of mine enlightened me here: it's done to sell books--and I find I agree with that interpretation), or I get to the point that I JUST WANT THIS FREAKIN' THING TO END!
This is definitively NOT one of those books.
Victoria Johnston
It took me longer than expected to read this book - not through any fault of the book but because I developed laryngitis halfway through reading it and didn't feel up to reading much.

This is a very good novel. It focuses on the life of Mary Queen of Scots after her return from France to Scotland. Her early life is not covered.

The writer has very clearly well researched her subject. At times the writer's knowledge of history does act as a little bit of a detriment however as it often makes the bo
Mary Stewart...queen of France (for a time) and Scotland. Married, and then widowed, three times. Cousin of the ruthless Queen Elizabeth I. Born into political upheavals and back-door machinations of the 16th century. Betrayal, lies, imprisonment, and health problems haunt her short life. A very interesting read that dwells more on the thoughts and actions of a woman born to be queen and then outdone by the bickering and backstabbing around her. Beautiful, charming, intelligent...she was accusto ...more
Jan 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, bringing an entirely different perspective on events so very well known. Despite the ending being a foregone conclusion (it's hardly a spoiler when its part of history so well known) the additional characters she weaves into the storytelling; the Maries, Lethington, James Stewart etc, are compelling and add to the sense of not knowing what comes next for them. Much historical fiction centres around this time period and it is interesting to see Elizabeth I portraye ...more
Elaine Cougler
Aug 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fatal Majesty is an intriguing look at Mary Queen of Scots and her fatal positioning in the politics of her day. Tragic yet intriguing, beautiful yet sometimes petty, Mary was thrust into a climate, both geographical and political, for which she was ill-prepared and ill-suited. She was destined to be thwarted at every turn. A most engrossing note of historical fiction. The end-notes on other books are quite interesting, showing the erudition of the author as well as the source of her calculated ...more
Oct 14, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: culture-history
This was an incredibly well researched novel, so much so, that I felt like the author was just fact/name dropping to an extent that it detracted from the story. I lost track of the characters and I found myself just waiting for Mary to die (however morbid that may sound). The interesting part was actually seeing Elizabeth as a fallible queen who made emotional decisions rather than seeing her in an idealistic, perfect ruler.
Nov 20, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You never seem to see Mary Queen of Scots portrayed in good light. She always seems to be plotting to kill Elizabeth. So this was a great change to see things from her perspective and to also see how slightly crazy Elizabeth was. Talk about mental!
And just like the Gregory books, this one keeps you interested and doesn't ever get boring. Yes, it's big, but it will fly by.
Apr 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
A prime example of not judging a book by its cover. I picked this up from a charity shop and its a very ratty book with yellow pages but it was totally fabulous. I loved this book and it followed history closely and I couldn't spot any faults. The Scots politics got a little hard to follow at times but thats the only problem I can see with this book. Very good historical read.
Nov 03, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There was too much fact in this book, there was a lot happening but none of it was interesting enough to keep me entertained. None of the characters were likeable & I skimmed through the last 20 pages. I usually love historical fiction but there was too much fact & not enough fiction in this for me.
Jun 15, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
So far I like it... it's a little thick with dialogue, but that adds to the feel of the setting. There are tons of characters - representing real people of the time - so it's a little bit of a challenge to keep it all straight, which I love.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This book triggers my interest in the British history. Previously, I'm only interested in the French court. But after reading this one, well I've got to's such an interesting history and make me want to know more.
I was captivated by the information in this book. A historical novel on the life of Mary Queen of Scots. As a civilization we have come a long way... I highly recommend reading it if you like historical novels.
Quite enjoyable, I will look for more books written by author Reay Tannahill. When we were in Scotland we were lucky to have stayed in Borthwick Castle near Edinburgh. According to the legend Borthwick Castle was where Mary Queen of Scots spent her last night of freedom.
Often historical fiction is more fiction than fact. This book reads as more fact than fiction. An enjoyable read, I'd recommend.
Nancy George
May 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good ...kept my interest
A thrilling exploration of Mary, Queen of Scots and the political intrigue surrounding her. An invigorating re-telling that lets her "Mary's" share the spotlight a bit.
Nov 12, 2011 rated it it was ok
I just couldn't get into this book; I don't know why as I like the topic but I found I really didn't care about any of characters.
Apr 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
loved it. totally turned me on to historic fiction. i was off and running and still am years and years later.
Saoirse Sheldon
Jan 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Compared to other Historical Fiction books this was on par. I was quite happy to have one soley based upon Queen Mary and have a slightly different side to her tale.
Mar 22, 2008 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Not sure about this one, we'll see.
Jerome Newberry
Feb 03, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: English history fans.
Interesting story for hisory buffs like myself. I would recomend it to anyone interested in English history. It shows what a violent people the Anglo-Saxons were.
May 27, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
i wanted it to be better...more dramatic maybe? this book is dense. there are many many characters, which is probably what made the book feel dry.
Lea Cámara
rated it it was amazing
Aug 21, 2015
rated it it was amazing
Jul 17, 2009
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Reay Tannahill was born on December 9, 1929 in Glasgow, Scotland, where she brought up. Her forename was the maiden name of her mother, Olive Reay. She was educated at Shawlands Academy, and obtained an MA in History and a postgraduate certificate in Social Sciences at the University of Glasgow. In 1958, she married Michael Edwardes but the marriage ended in divorce in 1983, he died in 1990. Until ...more
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