London, 1558. Queen Mary is dead, and 25-year old Elizabeth ascends the throne. Summoned to court from exile abroad, Elizabeth’s intimate spy, Brendan Prescott, is reunited with the young queen, as well as his beloved Kate, scheming William Cecil, and arch-rival, Robert Dudley. A poison attempt on Elizabeth soon overshadows her coronation, but before Brendan can investigate, Elizabeth summons him in private to dispatch him on a far more confidential mission: to find her favored lady in waiting, Lady Parry, who has disappeared during a visit to her family manor in Yorkshire.
Upon his arrival at the desolate sea-side manor where Lady Parry was last seen, he encounters a strange, impoverished family beset by grief, as well as mounting evidence that they hide a secret from him. The mystery surrounding Lady Parry deepens as Brendan begins to realize there is far more going on at the manor than meets the eye, but the closer he gets to the heart of the mystery in Vaughn Hall, the more he learns that in his zeal to uncover the truth, he could be precipitating Elizabeth’s destruction.
From the intrigue-laden passages of Whitehall to a foreboding Catholic manor and the deadly underworld of London, Brendan must race against time to unravel a vendetta that will strike at the very core of his world—a vendetta that could expose a buried past and betray everything he has fought for, including his loyalty to his queen.
The Tudor Vendetta is the third book in C.W. Gortner's Spymaster series. Although I haven't read the first two books, this book definitely can stand on its own and I had no problem with following along. Mr. Gortner did an excellet job at providing tidbits of the previous books along the way to help new readers follow along.
The novel's protaganist is Brendan Prescott, a charming nobleman who loyally serves the queen. He returns from exile now that it is Elizabeth will soon be crowned queen. But the country is still divided between Catholic and Protestant. Brendan finds himself resolving several plots to assassinate or keep Elizabeth from becoming queen.
I thoroughly enjoyed how Gortner characterized the notorious Dudley, who clung to Elizabeth to garner greater power for himself, and of Elizabeth's struggles to dominate in a male oriented world. Secret missions, intrigue, betrayal, and wonderful details of the period color this well-written story. I've long been a fan of the author. Pick any one of his novels and you're sure to be hooked too. Highly recommended.