Sunday 29 January 2017

THE MOST DANGEROUS ENEMY by Gemma Lawrence @TudorTweep

5 out of 5 stars

On Amazon UK HERE
On Goodreads HERE

How I discovered this book: I used to talk to the author on Twitter because of our mutual interest in the Tudors.  When she published her first book, The Bastard Princess, I read it and was blown away.  This is the fifth she has published ~ she writes another series, about Anne Boleyn: Above All Others.  She's become one of those authors whose books I now buy automatically, when they come out.  

The heart is blind to all but its own desires.  It is a subtle trickster, for it plants its seeds within the mind and lets them grow as though the thoughts it has created come from a place of reason and sense.

The third book in the Elizabeth of England Chronicles, this one covers the beginning of her reign, when she aims to dispel the sour taste left in the mouths of her people by the reign of her sister, Mary, to deal with the march of the prospective suitors, the pressure to marry, rivals to the throne, trouble with France and Scotland, opposition from the Church as she tries to find a happy medium between Protestant and Catholic for the Church of England ~ and when, of course, she is in love with the married Robert Dudley, and he with her.

Early in the book there is great description of her coronation, and demonstration of how she wanted so much to be a queen of the people.  There is a beautiful scene that made me cry, in which she takes a bunch of herbs as a gift from an old woman; be prepared to dissolve into tears at location 2383!

As with the other books, Gemma Lawrence's voice made me feel as if Elizabeth could almost be speaking through her, so real does it seem.  And, as before, the novel does not deal only with the story and her feelings, but her changing philosophies.  I liked this observation about the religious fanaticism of Mary and others: Those unsure in their faith seem to have a need to make all others think as they do.  They must impose their idea as the only idea.  So right, not just in matters of religion.  

I liked this, too: The past is a bad master, for it will hold us back when we should strike forth, it will paralyse us with terror when we should be bold enough to act.  

...and: the man who wins in this life ... is the man who knows how to make the best of what is given.

This books gives much in depth consideration to why she chose not to marry.  I know how well this author's work is researched; she was reading all she could about this period before she knew to what end it was leading, and it shows.  Therefore, this is possibly the most accurate fictional account of the first Elizabeth you will read.  So much has been written about the Queen and Robert Dudley, but I believe in Gemma Lawrence's version of the story, and most tragic I found it, too.  I think that, had they been able to marry without the shadow of Amy Dudley's death, they would have brought great happiness to each other and the people, and been memorable rulers together, for many years.

I loved reading about Elizabeth's first summer progress, and seeing the lost England of long ago, before it was covered in concrete and tarmac. The detail in this book is great; it covers a period of only a couple of years, and I'd say it's a book for those who already have something of a passion for the Tudors, not readers who are looking for an entertaining piece of general historical fiction.  It needs to be this detailed; I believe this is one of the best written-as-fiction accounts of the life of Elizabeth in existence.




  1. Thanks for this, Terry. I loved her first Ann Boleyn book, so this is definitely one I'm keen to read. She's an excellent storyteller.

  2. What a fabulous review T!! I've just bought it and really look forward to getting to it as I love books based on this period of history. And I loved this... The heart is blind to all but its own desires. It is a subtle trickster, for it plants its seeds within the mind and lets them grow as though the thoughts it has created come from a place of reason and sense.

    What a terrific quote :-)

  3. Quite an endorsement, TT. Very tempting review :)

  4. Looks like I've found another author to read. Thanks Terry

  5. Thanks Judith, Val, Georgia and Geoff ~ y'all ought to read the series starting with The Bastard Princess (link above). My favourite of this series is the middle one, so far, The Heretic Heir, (about the period of time covered in my book Last Child, ha ha!), but they're all great :)