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The Tudor Secret

(The Spymaster Chronicles #1)

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  3,458 ratings  ·  434 reviews

The era of the Tudors was one of danger, intrigue, conspiracy, and, above all, spies.

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

Paperback, 327 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 2011)
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Asteropê No, the TV show is not based off this book or any other previously written novel(s). Tudors was written and created by Michael Hirst. There are a numb…moreNo, the TV show is not based off this book or any other previously written novel(s). Tudors was written and created by Michael Hirst. There are a number of tv-tie-ins of novels based off the TV show, but not the other way around as far as I can find. See here:

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Average rating 3.67  · 
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B the BookAddict
Sep 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Historical fiction/faction lovers
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: Diane S's review

Set in those fractious days both preceding and following the death of Edward VI, C.W. Gortner places his fictional squire, Brendan Prescott, into the story. A foundling at birth and brought up in the Dudley household, he seeks to unearth the secrets surrounding his birth. Tasked with a clandestine errand to Princess Elizabeth by Dudley, the Duke of Northumberland, he simultaneously finds himself escorting Princess Mary, and acting as a spy for Elizabeth’s protector, William Cecil, the Master Sec
This is the first Gortner novel I've read and while I love reading novels set during this period this one hasn't turned out to be a favorite of mine.

Brendan Prescott, foundling raised along side the powerful Dudley family, comes to court to serve Robert Dudley. In his attempt to follow his master's first command he meets Princess Elizabeth Tudor and finds himself captivated, then pulled into the complicated world of politics during the reign of Edward VI.

I thought the mystery was decent enough
First things first, this is not a mystery. For some reason I thought it was, but it's really just Historical Fiction. It covers a period of about 3 weeks, and the huge leaps in character growth during that time are quite unbelievable. Our main character starts out a naive, bumbling country boy who picks up on court intrigue and gains maturity with startling swiftness, in a matter of days. Definitely some suspension of disbelief is needed.

However, I found it a quick, light read, especially for a
Jun 23, 2011 rated it did not like it
Although I have enjoyed other works by Mr. Gortner, I could only read a chapter of The Tudor Secret before I put it down telling my boyfriend, "This is much too fake to read". Perhaps it is because I have been in more of a actual history kick for the past year versus historical fiction or perhaps it is because of the fact that book was reading more like a high school drama club play. Granted, if I had stuck it out, then it may have progressed better. Call me a quitter, but I just couldn't read a ...more
Oct 05, 2008 added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
A rousing historical adventure set in the Tudor court, during final days of Edward VI's reign- a time of danger, deceit, and courage. Brendan Prescott, a foundling reared in Dudley household, arrives at court to serve as a squire to the arrogant Lord Robert Dudley. Keen and ambitious, Brendan hopes to gain advancement in his new post - until Lord Robert dispatches him on an illicit mission to the King's enigmatic sister, the Princess Elizabeth, and Brendan discovers that nothi
Lupinus Texensis
Feb 28, 2013 rated it did not like it
A young white boy discovers he is *~special~* in this ground-breaking tale. In a stunning turn of events, all the major female players (which include Elizabeth I, Mary I, and Frances Brandon of Suffolk) are one-dimensional cardboard cut-outs who exist only to help this *~special~* young white boy find *~the truth~*.

Ever author who blurbed on the back of this book should feel bad about themselves.

PS: The cover wardrobe is inaccurate. Just for the record.
Ashley Marie
3.5 stars

Read by Steve West. This one felt a little middle-of-the-road as historical fiction stories go, but by the end I realized I had warmed to Brendan and Kate, enough that I'd be interested in continuing this trilogy and seeing where their adventures in service to Elizabeth I take them.
Dec 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Everyone has a secret.
Like the oyster with its grain of sand, we bury it deep within, coating it with opalescent layers, as if that could heal our mortal wound. Some of us devote our entire lives to keeping our secrets hidden, save from those who might pry it from us, hoarding it like a pearl only to discover that it escapes us when we least expect it, revealed by a flash of fear in our eyes when caught unawares, by a sudden pain, a rage or hatred, or an all-consuming shame.

The Tudor Secret is t
Feb 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Historical fiction readers should thank Mr. Gortner for choosing to take us along with his imagination and give us such tales of what might have been. It takes a strong knowledge of time, place and history to be able to weave a story that at its core is completely based in fiction but populated by icons. Yet that is exactly what Mr. Gortner does with this first book in his Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles.
We meet young Brendan Prescott as he is making a journey to London. A foundling, Brendan w
Amy Bruno
I am a huge fan of C.W. Gortner’s The Confessions of Catherine de Medici and The Last Queen and so when the opportunity to review The Tudor Secret came my way, I quickly seized it! And I was not disappointed!

As a newborn babe Brendan Prescott was abandoned on the grounds of the powerful Dudley family. Taken in and raised at Dudley Castle, Brendan is tormented daily by the Dudley brothers, in particular the handsome, yet arrogant Robert. As the book opens, we find Brendan riding towards the court
Feb 04, 2011 rated it it was ok
I won this in a Goodreads first reads giveaway, which I was very excited about. Free books; yay! They asked for a review, so here it is.

What I liked about the book: I find the time period absolutely fascinating. I thought the author did a great job interweaving fiction with non-fiction. The Tudors are the ultimate dysfunctional family that you hate to love or love to hate. That always makes for great reading. I also liked most of the characters, flawed as they were.

What I didn't like: Wow. I rea
Ravin Maurice
Jan 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I had to force myself to not finish this book in one sitting, and even then it kept me up till the wee hours of the morning.
But I can't say enough about C.W. Gortner. He's remarkable in so many ways, and weaves the most amazing stories!

The Tudor Secret revolves around Brendan Prescott, a foundling who was reared in the Dudley household, and what happens to him when he comes to the court of Edward VI to serve Robert Dudley. Gortner kept very close to the facts as I understand them in and surrou
**2.5 stars for plot/0.5 star for narration**

The Tudor Secret was more historical fiction than anything, unless you count the "mystery" of Brendan Prescott's birth, which I don't (when I read a mystery, I'm looking for dead bodies.) The book was set at an interesting time in history, during the last days of Edward VI and the fight for the throne among all the Tudors, including Jane Grey, Mary Tudor and of course, Elizabeth.

The whole mystery of Brendan's parentage was pretty obvious (I could tell
Feb 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Once you step into the luxurious pages of The Secret Lion, you will find yourself on an excursion full of intricate plots, rich settings and historical themes. The time is sixteenth century Tudor England, during the riveting and exquisite renaissance period.
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
i love this book so much because it has great storyline . i have not read any books by this writer till now . he writes great books and i can't wait to read more books by him in the future . i am going to read the next book in the series as soon as i finish this review . i love the ending of this book because it has a mystery to it . ...more
Tudor Book Blog
Aug 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
A The Tudor Book Blog Review(


This story follows an orphaned stable boy, Brendon Prescott, on a search to discover his past, as well as save the Princesses Mary and Elizabeth.

Found abandoned as a baby, he is taken in by the powerful Dudley family. When he is old enough, he is called to the Royal Tudor Court, ruled by the young Edward VI. Though Robert Dudley has shown his obvious distaste for Prescott, Prescott is assigned to become his squire. His first m
Oct 30, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
More like 4.5 stars.

I enjoyed this historical novel and found it hard to put down because of the alternate theories in play. I read a lot of historical fiction including novels set in this time period and this author held my attention better than most. Mr. Gortner really grounded me in the 1500s through his excellent description of that time period and his use of the five senses. I experienced many perils along with the main character, Brandon, such as near-drowning incidences and being held in
Christina Rochester
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
I need a half star rating on goodreads. This book is certainly better than its successor, The Tudor Conspiracy, but I still don't want to award it that lofty five star rating. So let's call it four and a half stars even though goodreads will class it as a four star rating.

This first book in Elizabeth's Spymaster trilogy focuses on the last days of Edward VI's reign and that of Jane Grey, also known as the Nine Day Queen. Our protagonist Brendan Prescott is a squire in service to Lord Robert Dudl
Feb 07, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio-book
Even though I like Gortner writing and how he brings the period to live, i didn't like the story line much.

The main character Brendan Prescott who is an orphan reared in the Dudley household is brought to court, and suddenly he is thrust into the politics of the court and is trusted by all the powerful people, be it Princess Elizabeth or Mary.

I found that the main fault in the book was Brendan, he was not a clear character, at times a bit naive and un informed, at the other times too smart.
And i
Rio (Lynne)
Feb 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is my third Gortner book. The Last Queen is one of my favorites. There is no need to rehash the plot on this one. This book was originally released as The Secret Lion. Gortner has the right recipe in the way he writes his novels. They just flow. From page 1 you feel like you are there living in his world and he gives you a great "fictional" story intertwined with historical facts. The Tudor Secret was a fun read. I give it 3 and 1/2 stars ...more
Oct 11, 2012 rated it really liked it

Four stars for being well written and expertly plotted. Well developed and sympathetic characters. Upgraded to five stars for having Steve West narrate!
3.5 Overall an intriguing and enjoyable take on this period.
Christina Rothfusz
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
I've not read anything else by this author although I have had "Mademoiselle Chanel" on my to read list for ages.

Although I enjoy Historical Fiction and especially the Tudor era, I did not like this one.

Brendan Prescott is a foundling raised by the Dudley family and send to London to squire for lord Robert. King Edward, the teenage king who succeeded Henry VIII lies dying. The Dudley family is doing all to seize power and Brendan soon finds himself in the middle of court intrigue. Brendan also
C. A. Powell
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very enjoyable historical fiction story set during the final days of England's King Edward VI. The boy king is on his death bed and plots are afoot to put Lady Jane Grey on the throne instead of Mary I (Bloody Mary) A young spymaster in the making starts his career in this atmospheric tale. Very enjoyable read. ...more
Oct 19, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
I only had about 2 hours to go on the audio book and gave up. I really wanted to love this book because I love Philippa Gregory. But ... it is so far-fetched that a brand new squire could become so instantly embroiled in court intrigue. Then the sexually charged romance started. Sigh. That's when I gave up. ...more
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good blend of fiction and fact. It will be interesting to see where this series goes.
Dec 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Love everything this author writes. He is my go to for audiobooks. This one was enjoyable but definitely not as addictive as the others.
Denise Deen
Jul 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: beachbooks-2018
3.5 stars.....This was a fun read!! Keeping all of the characters and plot twists straight was quite a challenge!!
Very fast-paced & exciting! Book number 2 should be easier!! ☺️
Hannah Merwin
Jan 21, 2021 rated it liked it
Pretty good. I like that Brendan gets a lot answers about his past. I also like the intrigue and all historical bits!
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Historical Myster...: The Spymaster Chronicles by C. W. Gortner 5 60 Sep 18, 2015 01:51AM  

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Bestselling author C.W. Gortner holds an MFA in Writing, with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies. Raised in Spain and half Spanish by birth, he currently lives in Northern California. His books have been translated in over 20 languages to date.

He welcomes readers and is always available for reader group chats. Please visit him at for more information.

Other books in the series

The Spymaster Chronicles (3 books)
  • The Tudor Conspiracy (The Spymaster Chronicles, #2)
  • The Tudor Vendetta (The Spymaster Chronicles, #3)

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