9 out of 10 This novel had, even before I finished reading it, the requirements for having a place in my favourite books Now that I ve finished, I m glad to confirm that it is firmly placed in such a place.
I don t know if I ll ever read any other novel set in this time period, but in any case I have this feeling that Legacy has forever altered my expectation of Tudor historical novels that is to say, has ruined me forever for any other such novel because if I didn t have great expectations about them before thanks mostly to the extant books, now I am going to have impossibly high standards for them I am going to expect them to have the quality set up by Kay s novel, which admittedly will be hard to equal.
I ve never made a secret of my indifference towards this dynasty as a whole, and Elizabeth wasn t an exception Now, the indifference towards them remains, but now Elizabeth is spared She s come alive, she is felt near, she is interesting That s the reason why I read historical novels they have the power that history books lack, of having the average reader develop a burning passion for a period, a dead person, an event, drive them to find out , to investigate what s true and what s literary invention, and often, as is my case, to look at known facts through different eyes and realise with a start that what you ve known by rote all your life can actually be exciting And the secret is good storytelling I don t remember who told me this, but sometime in the past I heard that good storytelling could make the narration of your going to the grocery next block to buy veggies quite interesting if you knew how to tell the tale.
And, boy, does Susan Kay know how to tell the tale As you read the fictional account of Elizabeth s life, you may love her or find her irritating, you may want alternately to throttle her and hug her wounds away, you may laugh at the sheer brilliance of her political manoeuvring or slap yourself in frustration at her personal mistakes, you may pity the men she loves and the men she hates whatever your reactions, you won t be bored This isn t a character willing to let your attention wander away as you read The woman the author present in this book is far from the mainstream characterisation, she isn t a good woman selflessly sacrificing herself for her people and neither is she a bad woman turned despot once in power, she is both She s manipulative, impulsive, cruel, jealous, vain, mocking, bad tempered, resentful, and egoistic and she s also hard working, intelligent, empathetic, loving, forgiving, frightened, courageous, persistent and capable of selflessness Even the account of her affair with Leicester is devoid of romanticising as is the common practice, for here it isn t a grand love story with tinges of sappy tragedy instead at times it s poisonous, selfish and hurtful, and at other times it s generous, caring and joyful In this skillful balancing of lights and shadows lies the strength of the writer s narrative and characterisation of a deeply flawed woman you can come to love With such an assortment of flaws and qualities, no wonder this Elizabeth Tudor is hard to classify into a tidy tiny box Really hard If pressed at swordpoint to find an adequate adjective to describe her, I admit my inability to find any other better than two overused words magnificent bastard And that s a compliment.
The Much Praised Legacy Offers An Exquisite Psychological Portrait Of The Queen Who Defined An Era, Beloved And Touted By Readers For Its Stunning Storytelling And Intriguing Take On The Monarch S Life From The Spectacular Era That Bears Her Name Comes The Mesmerizing Story Of Elizabeth I Her Tragic Childhood Her Ruthless Confrontations With Mary, Queen Of Scots And Her Brilliant Reign As Europe S Most Celebrated Queen And Into This Beautiful Tapestry Susan Kay Weaves The Vibrant And Compelling Image Of Elizabeth The Woman Proud, Passionate, Captivating In Her Intensity, She Inspired Men To Love Her From The Depths Of Their Souls And To Curse The Pain Of That Devotion Teasing Out An Intriguing Answer To The Central Mystery Of The Virgin Queen Satisfying To Readers New To Elizabeth S Life As Well As Die Hard Fans Of The Tudors Here Is A Premier Exploration Of The Woman Who Changed The Course Of History, And Three Men Whose Destinies Belonged To Her Alone Actual rating 4.
Well written historical novel about Elizabeth I why did Susan Kay write only two novels , with some paranormal undertones.
Legacy, for me, was historical fiction gold a book I loved as a teenager which was just as wonderful second time around It s a cradle to grave retelling of the life of Elizabeth I, and it s 647 pages of class.
The prologue introduces Elizabeth as a troubled young princess, imprisoned in the Tower of London by her sister Mary and facing possible execution as a traitor She sat on a low stone window seat, wrapped in a cloak against the creeping cold and, like the solitary stone pillar that supported the roof, she might have been carved in that pose out of stone She sat staring out of the window into the courtyard below, straining her eyes to see the yawning cavern that was the Tower s main gateway.
The gate was her lodestone Night and day it drew her to the stone hooded window, and there was a starkly simple reason for her obsession She had not entered beneath that archway and had even less hope of leaving by it Through Traitor s Gate she had come to this very narrow place , a grim fortress which had swallowed up so many lives one of them, her mother s.
The story then backtracks to the meeting of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, and follows Elizabeth through her turbulent childhood If you know the story of these years, you know there s enough material here for several books, and as a result, a good deal of the first hundred pages is narrative But we get of Elizabeth s point of view the book is multiple omniscient third person as she gets old enough to start making her own decisions Constantly under pressure to declare her loyalties, frequently faced with the choice of sacrificing either her life or a future as Queen of England, Elizabeth develops the political skills of avoidance and prevarication which will serve her so well during her lengthy reign Susan Kay weaves a compelling narrative out of a welter of political history while never losing sight of her theme Anne Boleyn s Legacy to Elizabeth is twofold the charisma which wins her followers and the dark past Elizabeth never truly escapes Kay s Elizabeth is flirtatious, wayward, feminine, intelligent, manipulative and imbued with the steeliest of determination But we also see her vulnerable side her illnesses, doubts and fears, which get a stronger grip on her as her reign draws to its close Her relationships with the men in her life Thomas Seymour, Robert Dudley and the Earl of Essex and her close political partnership with William Cecil are fully explored, and while Elizabeth is shown to be a deeply emotional woman, realism is blended with romanticism.
Legacy is the story of one of history s most fascinating women, told with passion and authority a true classic.
This is an amazing masterpiece of historical fiction The dust jacket on my copy says that Susan Kay worked on this novel for fifteen years I can say it honestly felt like she did The history is comprehensive, the characterizations of the historical figures are vivid and realistic, the insight and motivations Kay offers for them are interesting and each character is realistic, three dimensional and matures over time This is not a quick and breezy beach read by any stretch of the imagination, this is a novel for serious fans of historical fiction, but neither is it a dry as dust recounting of historical facts There are certain books that will stick in your mind as THE definitive authority on a particular historical figure, Sharon Kay Penman s novelization of Richard III s life, The Sunne In Splendour is one example I think this will be the quintessential Queen Elizabeth book in my mind from now on I loved the stories about Elizabeth and Robert Dudley when they were children, those interactions were charming, and endeared the characters to me Kay did an amazing job of showing what a complex personality Elizabeth was She paints an interesting picture of a woman who survived a traumatic childhood and realistically depicts the way that trauma shaped her as a person I read The Virgin s Lover by Philippa Gregory and I came away from it disliking Robert Dudley But after reading this novel I really felt for him, Kay paints a heartbreaking story of an impossible relationship between Robin and Elizabeth This aspect of the book was very moving and revealed the human side of Queen Elizabeth There are some novels about queens that make you think Hey, being queen wouldn t be such a bad thing Then there are the novels that paint a detailed portrait of the complicated life of a sovereign and make me glad I was born a peasant This book falls into that category I highly recommend this for anyone interested in learning about Queen Elizabeth or Tutor England.
75 Stars The author didn t make Elizabeth out to be the perfect heroine, like most HF authors do today, which was a positive The story is seen through the eyes of the men in her life, letting you see all sides of Elizabeth I simply didn t get attached to the characters or even Elizabeth which I usually do so I wasn t emotionally attached to this read I am very familiar with Elizabeth s reign, so even though parts of this book didn t flow, I had no problem following The writing style just didn t hold my attention I didn t agree with some of the author s story telling, but, hey it s fiction, I know It started strong with the perspective of the rat, but after that it was just lightly written I do recommend this for readers who want to know about Elizabeth This covers her whole life and due to that the author keeps it light and it isn t weighed down.
A book that I was very happy to see come back into print last year Smart, well written account of Queen Elizabeth I from the cradle to the grave, and the various personalities, plots and achievements in her life I think this one is my favourite of all the various fictional accounts of Elizabeth, both because of the dialog, which is very believable, the characters, whom the author does not short, and Elizabeth herself, depicted with her jealousy, temper tantrums and ability to connive intact A must read for lovers of Tudor fiction For the longer review, please go here This book is the reason why I buy almost all of my books rather than borrowing from friends or the library I first read this book when I was in middle school I borrowed it from the library, lost myself in the dangerous and glittering world of court intrigue and politics, and read it in a little over two sittings It also happened to be that this was one of the last books I read before we moved to a different state In that hectic time, I returned the book to the library almost as soon as I finished it, and promptly forgot the title and author name But the story stayed with me for years, and for almost a decade I tried to find the book again by just what I remembered about the book it was a very detailed and introspective book on Queen Elizabeth, one of history s greatest monarchs It was superbly researched and endlessly captivating, all the while exceedingly personal at the same time But alas, those are poor metrics with which to search for one diamond of a book amongst the rough of s and Google s bazillion, sometimes crappy search results There are only so many Tudor era books one can sift through in one sitting, and I gave up after some halfhearted searches that followed.
But now, I FOUND IT AH To say I was excited is an understatement I was nearly bouncing in my chair with giddiness And I found it on GoodReads As soon as I clicked on the semi familiar author name, I knew in that the universe has just worked kind of way that this was what I was looking for This book made history come alive for me The clothes and food, the culture, the politics were all so richly detailed yet not so very heavy to read The daily rituals of the era that were so everyday then invoked both wonder and a lingering sense of familiarity in me Most importantly, I got to know Elizabeth The woman is an authentic BAMF Her charisma, charm, and ruthless political acumen should set her above any normal human being, but at the same time, she s so very, very human She lies, cheats, flatters, loves, and throws tantrums She has flaws, like the rest of us, but she s still so endlessly fascinating In my mind, this is THE standard to meet for any novel aspiring to be the next Great Novel of Elizabeth I But until then, Ms Susan Kay, you sit on that throne.
Now that I ve accomplished one of the many things on my Bucket List, this book is most definitely due for a reread.
Susan Kay s Legacy felt like two separate books which could be argued as a lack of cohesive tact The early chapters were much too disjointed with an overall look at events in Elizabeth s early life and those even before her birth None of the events or characters was thoroughly explored and Kay lacked in presenting detail of any sort However, don t give up on Kay just yet I was tempted, personally because Legacy completes a 180 degree turn after several chapters Legacy begins to build tension once Elizabeth is nearing her adolescence, which keeps the story moving at a suitable pace Even for those familiar with Tudor Elizabethan history an element of what will happen next drives the story Kay s presentation is unique, as Legacy flip flops between telling the story though the eyes of various characters and thus allowing for both Elizabeth s views and of those who came into contact with her This style captures Elizabeth with a fuller impression and less bias allowing the entire viewing of Elizabeth s pros and cons , and therefore encourages the reader to create his her own opinion Many of the events elements are not discussed in deep detail which can satisfy those readers familiar with the Tudors seeking a moving story line and less detail or it can a negative to those newer readers who want a fuller view Despite the personal preference, a major related positive is that Legacy is largely historically accurate Unlike many historical fiction novel authors which take drastic and sometimes annoying historical liberties, Kay sticks to the greater part of the facts Although there are some fictional areas, some which may even cause groans from the reader ahem passionate kiss between Elizabeth and Philip of Spain Kay is still less fantasy based in her work which is a relief to HF readers whom enjoy largely accurate works Similarly, Kay smoothly and seamlessly incorporates well known quotes into the dialogue of Legacy , which fit into the character conversations while adding depth but again are historically accurate On the negative side, some of the characters are highly stereotypical but surprisingly, Elizabeth is not overly glorified with an emphasis on showing her strengths and weaknesses Basically, Elizabeth isn t thrown in the face of the reader Instead of pure Elizabeth focus, Kay incorporates a healthy cast of characters which perfectly add to the story each has just the right amount of time within the plot and do not become tiresome Some unexpected albeit, brief cameo roles such as Mildred Cecil help provide the full Elizabeth view Legacy does contain some overly dramatic moments Elizabeth s first time supposedly having sex with Robert Dudley and Dudley s rape violent thoughts toward her but luckily, these were fleeting and not explored with varying depth Although a minor point, some phrases descriptions were overused, becoming annoying and predictable Kay didn t explore descriptive options, constantly describing Elizabeth as a coveted bone and her courtiers as dogs.
The last section of Legacy reverted back to the poor beginning in its sense of slow moving, drawn out events The book could have ended pages before it did but Kay dragged out the predictable ending in order to build suspense which was never realized Further, Elizabeth was overly described as losing her mind, which despite the depth of realism, was overly dramatized and completely contradicted the entire book creating a weak ending Plus, the epilogue is completely ridiculous and downright, silly.
Overall, Legacy is a quick read don t let the page count scare you and is enjoyable for the new or experienced reader for different reasons Although Kay may not blow you away, the historical accuracy will at least keep you entwined even if for a light read.