⚓’From his days as an impoverished law student to the lively and glittering court of Elizabeth I.’ Noelle reviews #Tudor #Histfic Raleigh by @tonyriches, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Noelle.

Noelle blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Noelle has been reading Raleigh by Tony Riches.

Book cover for Raleigh: Tudor Adventurer by Tony Riches
Raleigh: Tudor Adventurer by Tony Riches

I was first introduced to Tony Riches when I read his Tudor Trilogy, about the founding and growth of the Tudor family. With his latest series – the Elizabethans – he populates the Elizabethan court with some of the outstanding characters of the day. The first book had the reader sailing with Sir Francis Drake, the second in the middle of rebellion with Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex. In this book, the reader accompanies Sir Walter Raleigh (or Rawley as he was earlier called) from his days as an impoverished law student to the lively and glittering court of Elizabeth I. He doesn’t dance or joust, doesn’t come from a noble family, nor marry into one. He just has an overweening ambition to be a courtier, to wear the rich clothes, and to have the ear of the Queen.


Raleigh is an adventurer from the start, taking part in the religious civil wars in France in his late teens, then in the suppression of a rebellion in Ireland. Raleigh proceeds to finish his education in the Inns of the Court and then is admitted to Middle Temple, which is one of the four Inns of the Court exclusively entitling him as a member of the English Bar as a barrister. He has absolutely no interest in the law and decides he can most easily attain his goals by adventure and piracy. With financial backing from his family – his cousin Sir Richard Grenville and a younger half-brother Sir Humphrey Gilbert – he opts for sea-going adventures to fill his coffers with Spain’s gold, along with those of the Queen, in an attempt to get her attention. He is successful enough to become one of the principal landowners and colonists in Munster, Ireland, for seventeen years. His Irish estates ran into difficulties that contributed to a decline in his fortunes, but he finally becomes a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I because of his efforts at increasing the Protestant Church in Ireland. In 1585, Raleigh is knighted by Queen Elizabeth, whose ear he did have from time to time. She grants Raleigh a royal charter authorizing him to explore, colonize and rule any heathen lands in the New World, in return for one-fifth of all the gold and silver that might be mined there.Most of us know the story of Raleigh in the New World and the lost colonists of Roanoke. No gold and silver are found by the expeditions he funded, but he himself leads expeditions to the Orinoco river basin in South America in search of the golden city of El Dorado, which he never finds.


The author has done an amazing amount of research to bring the people in Raleigh’s circle to life and to let the reader experience the highs and lows of his time at court, and his longer time away from it. Raleigh loved Queen Elizabeth and his choice of his life’s paths are always made with her in mind, to the detriment of himself and his family. Riches introduces such notable nobles as Sir Francis Walsingham and the poet Edmund Spenser, and sets the years of Raleigh’s life against an authentic backdrop of the Court, its unending intrigues, and the history of the time. The clothing, food, and customs do not elude the author’s attention, so the reader becomes embedded in the times.


The book ends with the death of Elizabeth, and perhaps that is for the best because the remaining years of Raleigh’s life under the rule of James I were unfortunate. The reader is left with the image of a man who seeks adventure – who, despite or perhaps because of his lowly origins, is determined and focused in his pursuit of wealth and a courtier’s life – and who is also in love with his Queen.


I highly recommend yet another well-written and richly ornamented book by Tony Riches.

Orange rose book description
Book description

Tudor adventurer, courtier, explorer and poet, Sir Walter Raleigh has been called the last true Elizabethan.

He didn’t dance or joust, didn’t come from a noble family, or marry into one. So how did an impoverished law student become a favourite of the queen, and Captain of the Guard?

The story which began with the Tudor trilogy follows Walter Raleigh from his first days at the Elizabethan Court to the end of the Tudor dynasty.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Tudor #HistFic ESSEX: Tudor Rebel by @tonyriches

Today’s team review is from Sherry. She blogs here https://sherryfowlerchancellor.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Sherry has been reading Essex: Tudor Rebel by Tony Riches

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This meticulously well-researched book surprised me in a few ways. I’ve long been a history buff and intrigued by the House of Tudor and all the various courtiers who inhabited that world. I attended elementary school in Virginia which is steeped in early colonial history. My family took full advantage of that and we spent many a weekend at various historical sites—to say nothing of school field trips. Queen Elizabeth I was one of the first monarchs I remember learning about.  Of course, as a child, I had no idea of the machinations of her royal court but that foundation started a lifelong journey of amateur study of history.

I was intrigued to read a full length story about the Earl of Essex. Of course I’d heard/read, many times,  he went from queen’s favorite to execution but most of what I’d read skimmed pretty quickly over his exploits and how he ended up on the scaffold. This story pulled me into his world and his psychology. The man obviously was affected by his upbringing and the early death of his father as well as being raised away from his family (which I know happened often in those days). It was as if he had something to prove, but he didn’t have the proper guidance to learn to cope with life and how to compromise to get along in the world.

His refusal to listen to orders and defy his superiors in battle was remarkable. I was amazed he lasted as long as he did with the defiance he showed to the queen. She truly had a major soft spot for him which seems very unusual based on her intolerance for foolish behavior from many others. He sure took advantage of this soft spot and, after reading this book, I think it actually emboldened him to continue making rash decisions. Perhaps if she’d taken a sterner hand with his shenanigans, things would have been very different for him.

The detail of his last-stand march on the palace was almost unbelievable. It was a powerfully written scene—and not in a good way. I kept shaking my head at his actions. Even though I knew the outcome was his execution, I had to keep asking myself what the heck he was thinking and how he thought there would be a victory for him in all his rashness. He knew Queen Elizabeth was no stranger to ordering executions, but he clearly thought he was immune to her wrath to that extent since he’d gotten away with insubordination in the past. The defiance of her authority was arrogant and astounding. This book really brought that home in a way that it never had been to me before.

The author really made this story come alive. The background of Essex’s childhood, loss of love and family, along with his need to prove himself (and going into debt over and over in that quest) and his lack of awareness led to his downfall. The author is to be commended for the way he made this story real and relevant to our time. The psychology of this character is intriguing and based on his behaviors, it was only a matter of time before he enraged the Queen past redemption.  I recommend this book highly for an in-depth study of Essex and his character. It reads like a novel but was clearly based on the history and well-researched.

4 stars

Desc 1

Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, is one of the most intriguing men of the Elizabethan period. Tall and handsome, he soon becomes a ‘favourite’ at court, so close to the queen many wonder if they are lovers.

The truth is far more complex, as each has what the other yearns for. Robert Devereux longs for recognition, wealth and influence. His flamboyant naïveté amuses the ageing Queen Elizabeth, like the son she never had, and his vitality makes her feel young.

Robert Devereux’s remarkable true story continues the epic tale of the rise of the Tudors, which began with the best-selling Tudor trilogy and concludes with the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Tudor #Histfic Essex: Tudor Rebel by @tonyriches

Today’s team review is from AJ Lyndon. Find out more about her here http://ajlyndon.com.au

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

AJ has been reading Essex: Tudor Rebel by Tony Riches

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Genre – Historical. This is the second book in Tony Riche’s Elizabethan series.

The story is set in England during the later years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1. It follows the life of Robert Devereux, second Earl of Essex, from his father’s death in Ireland in 1576, leaving him “the poorest earl in England” to his own death in 1601.

It is peopled with a wide range of historical characters including Robert’s cold, distant and ambitious mother, his sisters Penelope and Dorothy and his younger brother Wat. Queen Elizabeth herself, an ever-present background threat, is onstage at times, along with Drake, Raleigh and the queen’s favourite, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, who becomes the young Robert’s stepfather and friend.

Each chapter is from a different time period, chronicling every twist and turn of Robert’s life, year by year. It describes in great detail his childhood separation from his family, his increasingly difficult relations with the powerful Cecils, his warm relationships with his sisters and supporters such as valet Anthony Bagot and lifelong friend Gelly Meyrick.

As the growing boy becomes a young man, he transforms from impoverished ward of the Cecils to an ambitious young courtier who quickly supplants his stepfather in the dangerous position of the queen’s favourite.

From the first chapter, I was impressed by the everyday details of 16th century life from lace coifs and beeswax candles to manchet bread and the steps of the galliard.

“After three quick hops with alternate feet, on the word cadence, Robert jumped, landing with one leg ahead of the other, in a move called the posture.”

Every intrigue Robert participates in throughout his life is described, from the ongoing military campaigns and plotting by and against the Spanish, to the many court intrigues and rivalries of the Elizabethan court.  The end result is a wealth of convincing detail which left me with a much greater knowledge of this famous nobleman, courtier and military general.

Despite being surrounded for most of his life by those who seek to guide him, Robert remains prey to others who, jealous of his position at court, seek to profit from him or to oust him. Somewhat surprisingly for the modern reader, having been born the poorest earl in England leads Robert, in the author’s portrayal of him, into a lifelong and fruitless quest to restore his fortunes. He is hampered by his inherited love of gambling, by his fondness for beautiful women, and by the cynical use the queen makes of her leading courtiers. In his anxiety to please her, Robert is led further and further into debt as he repeatedly raises troops at his own expense to fight military campaigns.

I could not fault the historical detail.  The author resists the temptation of describing only the romantic side of the era. London’s Strand is already dominated by great houses, but St Paul’s cathedral has only a broken spire and the sound of bear-baiting drifts across the Thames. Yet Robert Devereux himself remained elusive. Despite the many dramatic events described, it was only in the closing scenes that I felt the emotion behind this doomed and tragic figure.

Like many established historical novelists, Tony Riches sticks closely to the facts and includes as much as possible about his subject. It might be interesting if he adopted a slightly different approach, focussing on a few of the major episodes. This would give him the opportunity of bringing each event to life, even if it means taking chances, rather than risking it being overshadowed by a swift transition to the next. 

This is the first novel I have read by this successful author, but it will probably not be the last.

Desc 1

Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, is one of the most intriguing men of the Elizabethan period. Tall and handsome, he soon becomes a ‘favourite’ at court, so close to the queen many wonder if they are lovers.

The truth is far more complex, as each has what the other yearns for. Robert Devereux longs for recognition, wealth and influence. His flamboyant naïveté amuses the ageing Queen Elizabeth, like the son she never had, and his vitality makes her feel young.

Robert Devereux’s remarkable true story continues the epic tale of the rise of the Tudors, which began with the best-selling Tudor trilogy and concludes with the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Tudor #HistoricalFiction DRAKE-TUDOR CORSAIR (The Elizabethan Series Book 1) by @tonyriches

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading Drake-Tudor Corsair by Tony Riches

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Avast, all you fans of Tony Riches! The author has gone to sea, introducing us to Sir Francis Drake. Having confined himself to land with the Tudor series and other wonderful stories of men and women peopling the Tudor era, the author has found his sea legs.

I am, probably like many, cognizant of the name Francis Drake but know little about him except for a vague colorful impression. Born in Devonshire, England, Drake was the son of a tenant farmer on the estate of the earl of Bedford, but was brought up in Plymouth by his relatives, the Hawkins family. The Hawkins worked as merchants and privateers (pirates) and introduced Drake to sailing. The book opens with Drake’s first posting as crew on the Tiger, a slave ship in the flotilla of Hawkins ships. Drake’s thirst for adventure is satisfied as the flotilla sails to seek fortune and trade goods in the Caribbean after visiting Africa for a cargo of slaves. Riches handles this distasteful aspect of Drake’s life in a straightforward fashion with tact.

He follows Drake through his early voyages and his rise through the ranks to become captain of his own ship. Skirting death and capture by the Spanish during these voyages, he learns of routes used to transport Spanish silver and gold, and risks his life to return to England more than once with a large amount of Spanish treasure, an accomplishment that earned him a substantial reputation along with a fortune.

Queen Elizabeth is intrigued by Drake and secretly encourages his piracy. In 1577, she commissions Drake to lead an expedition around South America through the Straits of  Magellan. Sailing the Golden Hind, he becomes the first to complete circumnavigation of the world in a single expedition, returning with enough Spanish treasure to force the Spanish to assemble an armada to attack England.

Written in first person, the author explores Drake’s motives, audacity, personal disappointments, successes and failures with an objective eye. Riches is terse in detail – something I’ve noticed sets him apart from many of the female writers of the Tudor era – but gives us enough of Drake’s world to put us en scene. As a sailor, I especially liked being at sea with him, feeling the deck roll beneath my feet, the force of a good wind, and the swelling and snapping of the sails.

It was a surprise to discover that Drake was not the swashbuckling, flamboyant figure I thought he was, but a practical man, certainly drawn into Elizabethan court intrigue but not really of it. Riches creates a real person, one whose main pleasure in life is being the captain of a ship, with a purpose for his voyage.

If there is one criticism I would make, it is my frustration with not knowing what the different types of ships mentioned, or on which Drake sailed, look like. A chart or some line drawings at the beginning would have been lovely, along with a map of the Caribbean and the places Drake explored.

Notwithstanding that, I think Tony Riches’ first sea voyage is a successful one that will please not only his usual readers but also anyone drawn to sea adventures.

Book description

From the author of the best-selling Tudor trilogy – the Elizabethan series begins.

1564: Devon sailor Francis Drake sets out on a journey of adventure.

Drake learns of routes used to transport Spanish silver and gold, and risks his life in an audacious plan to steal a fortune.

Queen Elizabeth is intrigued by Drake and secretly encourages his piracy. Her unlikely champion becomes a national hero, sailing around the world in the Golden Hind and attacking the Spanish fleet.

King Philip of Spain has enough of Drake’s plunder and orders an armada to threaten the future of England.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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