The Queen's Bastard

Robin Maxwell, Author Arcade Publishing $24.95 (448p) ISBN 978-1-55970-475-5
Maxwell's second novel (after The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn) breathes extraordinary life into the scandals, political intrigue and gut-wrenching battles that typified Queen Elizabeth's reign--as seen through the eyes of Arthur Dudley, the man who may have been the illegitimate progeny of the Virgin Queen and her beloved Master of the Horse, Robin Dudley. Arthur's first-person narration is cleverly juxtaposed with third-person dramatization of significant events in the queen's life, bringing an intricate authenticity to the possibility that Elizabeth gave birth to a bastard son. Maxwell's research examines the biographical gaps in, and documented facts about, the queen's life, making this incredible tale plausible, and the author aptly embellishes her story with rich period details and the epic dramas of the late 16th century. Switched at birth with a baby's corpse by a lady-in-waiting who foresaw the disastrous political consequences of a royal bastard, the infant is raised in the English countryside, where he is abused by his adoptive mother. Only his adoptive father, Robert Southern, knows his true background, and it is only when Southern lies dying that he reveals the secret to Arthur. The circumstances leading to Arthur's reunion with his father and finally his mother range from the young man's military training in Wales and encampment in the Netherlands to his post as a spy in France, Italy, Spain and Portugal, all played out against the backdrop of England's defeat of the Spanish Armada. The novel falters only with an abundance of references to Anne Boleyn's diary (coy allusions to the author's first novel), but this minor affectation defuses none of the powerfully lascivious intersections of sexual and international politics that, combined with Maxwell's electrifying prose, here make for enthralling historical fiction. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/19/1999
Release date: 04/01/1999
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 436 pages - 978-1-55970-848-7
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-0-684-85760-2
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-1-61145-386-7
Paperback - 436 pages - 978-1-61145-211-2
Open Ebook - 448 pages - 978-1-62872-154-6
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