‘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.

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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.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

‘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

‘You will relive Queen Mary’s nightmare’ Frank reviews #Tudor #Histfic novella Rizzio by @DameDeniseMina

Today’s team review is from Frank. Find out more about Frank here https://franklparker.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Frank has been reading Rizzio by Denise Mina

As I immerse myself in the history of the Reformation in England and Ireland, in preparation for a planned book about the Tudor Plantation of the Irish Midlands, I can’t help but be struck by the extent of the sheer brutality of the times, the lack of respect for the lives of others, the seeming absence of concern for their suffering. There are so many incidents involving deceit, false accusation and cold blooded murder. So many men felt an overwhelming sense of entitlement and its corollary, the need to avenge perceived slights. It is impossible not to conclude that it was a time when the most dangerous thing a man, or woman, could do was to express support for a system of belief, or for a particular individual, within earshot of someone who held an alternative opinion.

One of many ill-conceived plots that taints the period is an attempt to prevent the birth of a child to Mary Queen of Scots, in her apartments in Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, in March of 1566. Forcing her to witness the brutal murder of her secretary, the Italian David Rizzio would, it was hoped, cause her to miscarry and die. The cowardly Henry Lennox, Mary’s husband, father of the child and Rizzio’s lover, had been duped into believing he would take the throne upon her death.

Denise Mina recounts these events in a delightful little book that captures the naked ambition that was the real reason behind the rivalries. The readiness of individuals to change sides, denouncing once passionately expressed beliefs, in order to save their skin, or gain royal preference. gives the lie to claims that it was all about religion. Although, to some, innocent of the true motives of their patrons, it was about nothing else but fear of the return of Catholicism.

Mary and Darnley’s child is destined to become the future King James Sixth of Scotland and First of England. Ironically, Darnley fears that the child will ensure the continuation of the Catholic line on the Scottish throne, so something has to be done to prevent its birth.

The book is an absolute delight to read. Mina gets deep inside the minds of each of the participants, analysing their motives, their opinions of the other protagonists, friend and foe alike. The sights, sounds and odours of the Palace, and the city beyond its walls, bring the events to life, playing out on the cinema screen in the reader’s head. But this is not a wide screen battle raging across a landscape. This is mayhem within the confines of a brick and stone palace, poorly lit by flickering candles as befits so dark a sequence of events. Outside, crowds gather. A patrol of city guards and militiamen try to investigate sounds suggestive of a disturbance, but are assured that there is nothing for them to be concerned about.

Elsewhere in the palace life goes on as normal. Two men play a game of chance, blissfully unaware of the horrors taking place a few yards away. With Rizzio dead, Mary plots her escape, with help from a surprising quarter.

In the aftermath, we visit the gallows where scapegoats for the crime meet their maker, and the long abandoned wing of the palace where the ugly scenes took place. The Scots, it is implied, were so ashamed of what happened there that for centuries it was used as a store for broken and unwanted furniture.

This is a book to rival many an acknowledged masterpiece. Do not let its brevity fool you. The quality of the writing is such that you will relive Queen Mary’s nightmare as if you were in her apartments with her. Mina has won many awards for her crime writing. I foresee many more for this masterful foray into historical writing.

Five bright shining stars for a book everyone with Scottish or English blood in their veins should read.

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

‘A fast, dark recounting of roughly three terrible days in March 1566.’ @deBieJennifer reviews RIZZIO by @DameDeniseMina

Today’s team review is from Jenni. She blogs here https://jenniferdebie.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Jenni has been reading Rizzio by Denise Mina

David Rizzio, who gives Denise Mina’s Rizzio its name, is an Italian in the Scottish court, a loyal friend to the queen, and a onetime lover of the queen’s consort. The consort, Lord Darnley, married the queen for love, but has grown bitter at his position in court as little more than an ornament for the throne. Lord Darnley’s father, the Earl of Lennox, is prepared to manipulate and sacrifice his son into being the face of this insurrection if it means overthrowing the queen and restoring a cabal of deposed lords to their ancestral seats. All of this culminates in Mina’s gut-punch of a novella, a fast, dark recounting of roughly three terrible days in March 1566.

Written in tight, present-tense prose, Rizzio peers over the shoulders and into the minds of conspirators, loyalists, pawns, and victims as the titular assassination of Rizzio and the attempted overthrow of the queen unfolds. Everyone from the plotting lords, to the queen, to the people of Edinburgh who noticed unusual doings in the castle late at night, is drawn into this tale of one long weekend that changed the course of British history.

With less than 130 pages between its covers, Rizzio reads at a breakneck pace as Mina deftly lays out tangled webs of alliances, beliefs, deceptions, and betrayals that knot across 16th century Edinburgh. Circumstances change rapidly when plotters realize that all is not what it seems, the pregnant Queen Mary plans her escape, and unlikely allies, enemies, and opportunists make themselves known. As she has shown time and again with her other works, Mina is an author who knows how to captivate and keep her audience, and Rizzio is no exception.

5/5

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.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS