‘What a wild, dark and dangerous place 16th Century Scotland was.’ @TerryTyler4 reviews #HistoricalFiction Rizzio by @DameDeniseMina

Today’s team review is from Terry. She blogs here https://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Terry has been reading Rizzio by Denise Mina.

5 stars

The first word that came to mind when I was thinking how to describe this book was ‘enchanting’, though the story itself is the very opposite. The way in which it is written, however, is a delight indeed, even down to the off-the-wall chapter headings. The shocking story of the murder of David Rizzio, servant, advisor and friend to Mary, Queen of Scots, bounces along in page-turning fashion, with a whisper of almost humorous cynicism as the author narrates the appalling events of the few days in question.

It is a chilling irony that the hornéd demons who stormed the Queen’s apartments in Holyrood Palace claimed to be motivated partly by divisions in the Christian church – this grisly moment in history could have come straight from an anthology entitled ‘The Devil and his Work’. Also that the unborn child the demonic lords were so keen to write off actually became James VI of Scotland and James I of England – named by Elizabeth I as her successor.

Spoiled wastrel Lord Darnley – Mary’s husband who threw his toys out of his pram when he didn’t receive his ‘Crown Matrimonial’ (the sharing of the reign and the authority to rule in his own right if he outlived her) – was beautifully portrayed, while background information about the activities of his father and some of the other lords who took part in the brutality sent a chill up my spine that remains with me. This novella brings home what a wild, dark and dangerous place 16th Century Scotland was – every scene is atmospherically perfect, and one is given the feeling that in aristocratic and ‘noble’ circles, one’s life was hanging by a thread pretty much all the time.  

I loved what Denise Mina did with the insane Henry Yair, and the ‘afterwards’ section, when we read what happened to Mary in the years to follow and, most interesting of all, what happened to the Queen’s apartments at Holyrood Palace. Fascinating. I have to look up more about this!

Excellent.  Loved it.

Desc 1

From the multi-award-winning master of crime, Denise Mina delivers a radical new take on one of the darkest episodes in Scottish history—the bloody assassination of David Rizzio  private secretary to Mary, Queen of Scots, in the queen’s chambers in Holyrood Palace.

On the evening of March 9th, 1566, David Rizzio, the private secretary of Mary, Queen of Scots, was brutally murdered. Dragged from the chamber of the heavily pregnant Mary, Rizzio was stabbed fifty six times by a party of assassins. This breathtakingly tense novella dramatises the events that led up to that night, telling the infamous story as it has never been told before.

A dark tale of sex, secrets and lies, Rizzio looks at a shocking historical murder through a modern lens—and explores the lengths that men and women will go to in their search for love and power.

Rizzio is nothing less than a provocative and thrilling new literary masterpiece.

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‘Such a savage era in history.’ Sherry reviews Scottish #HistoricalFiction Rizzio by @DameDeniseMina, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

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

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Sherry has been reading Rizzio by Denise Mina

This story about the murder of David Rizzio, the private secretary of Mary Queen of Scots was a quick read. A much fuller picture of what happened that night and the days to follow than I’d read previously

What the conspirators put the poor man through was brutal and violent. The terror he must have experienced was gut-wrenching even reading about it more than 460 years later. Queen Mary’s fear for her life as well as her child’s and the way her own husband tried to force her to have a miscarriage was awful. Imagine spending a whole night and day thinking you’re going to be killed any moment and there is no escape. And that your husband is part of the plot to kill you and your child. Such a savage era in history.

Of course, in some places, life can still be vicious and this retelling of the events of that night in 1566 reminded me that some people still live in places where such violence can be a daily occurrence. This reader counts herself lucky that she can read about such horrors without the kind of fear people face both in the past and in our time.

This killing boiled down to two things in my opinion—(1) an immature, jealous husband who was dissatisfied with his lot in life as consort, not king in his own right and (2) the greed and avarice of courtiers who saw this as their chance to take what they wanted and get rid of Mary. They played right into Darnley’s fantasy of being king and used that for their own ends with no intention of giving him his heart’s desire. A lot of nefarious people in Edinburgh.

The author here clearly researched the time frame extensively. I had not read about Henry Yair and his murder of Father Adam Black on the same night. That was an interesting part of the story I had not heard about before. Fanaticism seemed rife in that era for sure.

I can’t say I liked the book as it was a terrible, terrible time in Scotland’s history, but I did learn a lot and appreciate the author’s work in fleshing out this story. It was well-written and, as it was also brutally truthful, it was a heartbreaking read.

4 stars.

Desc 1

On the evening of March 9th, 1566, David Rizzio, the private secretary of Mary, Queen of Scots, was brutally murdered. Dragged from the chamber of the heavily pregnant Mary, Rizzio was stabbed fifty six times by a party of assassins. This breathtakingly tense novella dramatises the events that led up to that night, telling the infamous story as it has never been told before.

A dark tale of sex, secrets and lies, Rizzio looks at a shocking historical murder through a modern lens—and explores the lengths that men and women will go to in their search for love and power.

Rizzio is nothing less than a provocative and thrilling new literary masterpiece.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

#Bookreview The Royal Road To Fotheringay by Jean Plaidy Mary Queen of Scots #HistFic #wwwblogs

The Royal Road to Fotheringhay (Stuart Saga, #1) (Mary Stuart, #1)The Royal Road to Fotheringhay (Stuart Saga, #1) by Jean Plaidy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Royal Road To Fotheringay is a historical novel about the life of Mary Queen of Scots. Not to be muddled with Mary Tudor, this book is about the life of a queen who took her title when she was just six days old.

Mary was the daughter of James V of Scotland and his wife Marie de Guise of France. Mary’s father was a Stuart and, although he had other children, it was Mary who was first in line for the throne. Mary’s mother became Regent, protecting her daughter from political and religious threats as she grew up.

Henry VIII wanted Mary to marry his son Edward, thus joining England and Scotland, but when Henry died, Mary’s mother feared the appointed Lord Protector of England. She sent six year old Mary to France, instead, where she became engaged to the young Dauphin. Brought up in the French court, Mary spent more than a dozen years on French soil under the guidance of her Catholic family.

After the Dauphin and Mary’s mother died, Mary was forced to return to Scotland. Here she found herself a pawn in an ever changing, dangerous game of political chess. Stuck between feuding lords, squabbling family and strong Protestant believers, led by John Knox, Mary struggled to rule a people who didn’t know her and had little faith in her actions.

This book gives the reader enthralling insight into Mary’s eventful life, where friend and foe were quick to change. There were many marriage talks, made to strengthen ties and shift power, and the young queen found the path to happiness very difficult.

I really enjoyed this book, the author paints the scenes vividly and makes you feel a part of the story. The dialogue and actions suited the era and the writing style made the book a pleasure to read. I knew very little about Mary Queen of Scots before I read this book, but I now feel I know her very well.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book Description

The haunting story of the beautiful–and tragic–Mary, Queen of Scots, as only legendary novelist Jean Plaidy could write it
Mary Stuart became Queen of Scotland at the tender age of six days old. Her French-born mother, the Queen Regent, knew immediately that the infant queen would be a vulnerable pawn in the power struggle between Scotland’s clans and nobles. So Mary was sent away from the land of her birth and raised in the sophisticated and glittering court of France. Unusually tall and slim, a writer of music and poetry, Mary was celebrated throughout Europe for her beauty and intellect. Married in her teens to the Dauphin Francois, she would become not only Queen of Scotland but Queen of France as well. But Mary’s happiness was short-lived. Her husband, always sickly, died after only two years on the throne, and there was no place for Mary in the court of the new king. At the age of twenty, she returned to Scotland, a place she barely knew.
Once home, the Queen of Scots discovered she was a stranger in her own country. She spoke only French and was a devout Catholic in a land of stern Presbyterians. Her nation was controlled by a quarrelsome group of lords, including her illegitimate half brother, the Earl of Moray, and by John Knox, a fire-and-brimstone Calvinist preacher, who denounced the young queen as a Papist and a whore. Mary eventually remarried, hoping to find a loving ally in the Scottish Lord Darnley. But Darnley proved violent and untrustworthy. When he died mysteriously, suspicion fell on Mary. In haste, she married Lord Bothwell, the prime suspect in her husband’s murder, a move that outraged all of Scotland. When her nobles rose against her, the disgraced Queen of Scots fled to England, hoping to be taken in by her cousin Elizabeth I. But Mary’s flight from Scotland led not to safety, but to Fotheringhay Castle…

About the author

Jean Plaidy

Eleanor Alice Burford, Mrs. George Percival Hibbert was a British author of about 200 historical novels, most of them under the pen name Jean Plaidy which had sold 14 million copies by the time of her death. She chose to use various names because of the differences in subject matter between her books; the best-known, apart from Plaidy, are Victoria Holt (56 million) and Philippa Carr (3 million). Lesser known were the novels Hibbert published under her maiden name Eleanor Burford, or the pseudonyms of Elbur FordKathleen Kellow and Ellalice Tate.

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