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The Elizabeth Tudor Conspiracy by Alexandra Walsh

After years on the throne of England, Elizabeth I, the daughter of Henry VIII, was the last of the Tudor monarchs. Or was she? With two more legitimate heirs, known only by a select few, the question of who will take control after Elizabeth’s death is a hotly-debated subject. Now Phillip II of Spain has discovered the secret and it is feared that he will use it to his advantage to claim the throne as his own.

Fast forward over 400 years, and Perdita Rivers and her twin sister, Piper, are ensconced in Castle Jerusalem in Andorra, after their research uncovered a new Tudor bloodline that certain agencies would kill to keep hidden. With their latest discoveries, the sisters are, once again, placed in danger. Is revealing the truth worth more than their own lives?

The Elizabeth Tudor Conspiracy is the second book in the Marquess House trilogy and follows on from The Catherine Howard Conspiracy. For this reason, it is advisable to read this series in sequence so you can fully understand the circumstances the Rivers sisters have found themselves in.

I really enjoyed the first in this series so was looking forward to reading the next installment. In this book, we spend more time in the past than The Catherine Howard Conspiracy, and this was understandable seeing as we already know Perdita and Piper and the reasons behind them being where they are. Both time frames are as intriguing as the other and I really enjoyed how the two parts were woven together.

As someone who is interested in Tudor history, I especially enjoyed the importance the author has placed on the women of the time, in particular the relationship between Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots. At a time when the men in power were intent on war, I liked reading about the machinations of the Ladies of Melusine who were covertly discovering more about potential plots than those whose job it actually was! I think we have also been given a hint here as to something that may occur in the third book: Melusina, a female spirit of fresh water… Rivers… hmm…

In The Elizabeth Tudor Conspiracy, we read about an alternative take on the Tudors which, if true, would change the face of British history. The twist relating to the death of Elizabeth was definitely not one that I was expecting!

For fans of dual timeline stories, this is a great read. I am looking forward to reading the final part of the trilogy and seeing where Perdita and Piper’s research takes them next.

With thanks to Netgalley and Sapere Books for my copy.

Origin by Dan Brown

Former student, Edmond Kirsch, has invited professor of symbology, Robert Langdon, to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao to witness his unveiling of something that will challenge existing views on the origin of our species. What already promises to be an explosive event turns catastrophic and Langdon is forced to flee the museum accompanied by its director, Ambra Vidal. Embarking on a quest across Barcelona to try to locate a password that will launch Kirsch’s theory into the world, Langdon’s life is, once again, in danger. Will he be able to share Kirsch’s discovery before the forces acting against him catch up with him?

I know that there are a lot of readers who sneer at the thought of a Dan Brown book but, as far as I’m concerned, any book that encourages people to read is a good one. The fact that his books have sold over 200 million copies and have been translated into 56 languages must mean that there are a lot of fans out there! Origin is the fifth book to feature symbologist Robert Langdon and the action sees him returning to Europe, this time to Spain, to partake in another battle between science and religion.

From the outset, we know that Edmond Kirsch has discovered something that threatens the doctrine of all world religions but we do not find out until near the very end of the book what the discovery is. This was a very clever move as, throughout my reading, I was desperately looking for clues as to what it was, and it was not until a few paragraphs before the big reveal that I worked out part of it. I enjoyed this ‘not knowing’ as it built up an air of anticipation and when it was finally revealed, it made me think about how this could actually happen.

For me, the thing I enjoy most about Dan Brown’s books is the setting. Through this series, I have been introduced to many historical places, museums and galleries that I did not know about and I find that, as I am reading, I am often looking them up online to find out more information. In Origin, Brown paints a picture of the Guggenheim Museum so detailed that I could imagine I was there. Other locations visited include Casa Milà and the impressive Sagrada Família.

As with Dan Brown’s other books, it will not be seen as a classic but it is an entertaining, fast-paced read which allows you to have a few hours of escapism whilst reading it. I, for one, will be awaiting the next Robert Langdon book eagerly!

 

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