Alison Weir: Innocent Traitor

I am now a condemned traitor . . . I am to die when I have hardly begun to live.

Historical expertise marries page-turning fiction in Alison Weir’s enthralling debut novel, breathing new life into one of the most significant and tumultuous periods of the English monarchy. It is the story of Lady Jane Grey–“the Nine Days’ Queen” –a fifteen-year-old girl who unwittingly finds herself at the center of the religious and civil unrest that nearly toppled the fabled House of Tudor during the sixteenth century.

The child of a scheming father and a ruthless mother, for whom she is merely a pawn in a dynastic game with the highest stakes, Jane Grey was born during the harrowingly turbulent period between Anne Boleyn’s beheading and the demise of Jane’s infamous great-uncle, King Henry VIII. With the premature passing of Jane’ s adolescent cousin, and Henry’s successor, King Edward VI, comes a struggle for supremacy fueled by political machinations and lethal religious fervor.

Unabashedly honest and exceptionally intelligent, Jane possesses a sound strength of character beyond her years that equips her to weather the vicious storm. And though she has no ambitions to rule, preferring to immerse herself in books and religious studies, she is forced to accept the crown, and by so doing sets off a firestorm of intrigue, betrayal, and tragedy.

Alison Weir uses her unmatched skills as a historian to enliven the many dynamic characters of this majestic drama. Along with Lady Jane Grey, Weir vividly renders her devious parents; her much-loved nanny; the benevolent Queen Katherine Parr; Jane’s ambitious cousins; the Catholic “Bloody” Mary, who will stop at nothing to seize the throne; and the Protestant and future queen Elizabeth. Readers venture inside royal drawing rooms and bedchambers to witness the power-grabbing that swirls around Lady Jane Grey from the day of her birth to her unbearably poignant death. Innocent Traitor paints a complete and compelling portrait of this captivating young woman, a faithful servant of God whose short reign and brief life would make her a legend.

Is there anything like a good Tudor story for a bit of drama? Methinks not.

The history of Lady Jane Grey begins when she was a child in Henry VIII’s court, and extends into Edward’s short lived reign. Her family tries to grasp power any way they can…as courtiers always do, by arranging secret marriage plots. Daughters are good for that.

There aren’t exactly chapters in this book, but instead it is divided up by multiple POVs that switch every page or two. This does require you to pay close attention, and there were a few times that I got lost in who was speaking–but as long as you watch the headers, you will be ok.

Rub your hands together and settle in for all the gossip and scandal you can stand. This is historical fiction as it SHOULD be written–the kind where you forget that it is fiction because you are reading from the perspective of the actual person and not some made up sub-character. There’s a huge difference, and this is the kind I want!

Lastly, I don’t go into a book like this expecting a lot of diversity. There SHOULD be some…but there usually isn’t. We need to change this, historical fiction authors.

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