Book Review: Essex – Tudor Rebel (The Elizabethan Series Book 2) by Tony Riches

Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Preseli Press
Pub date: 8 April 2021

What makes the queen’s young favourite turn against her?

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.

Continuing the story of the Tudors, begun in Tony Riches’ best-selling Tudor trilogy, this epic tale of loyalty, love and adventure follows Robert Devereux from his youth to his fateful rebellion.

Essex – Tudor Rebel is the second in the Elizabethan Series from Riches.

Having just finished Elizabeth’s Last Favourite by Sarah-Beth Watkins this couldn’t have come at a better time to continue my interest in Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex.

Riches takes the reader on a journey of Essex’s life through his childhood and the loss of his father through to his death. On the death of his father Essex finds himself with a new step-father, the Queen’s favourite Robert Dudley. His mother, Lettice Knollys is banished from court so Essex spends much of his adolescence in Wales with his uncle, continuing his education and learning courtly etiquette and pastimes such as jousting.

As an attractive, charming young man he is soon accepted at court and strives to become the next favourite of Elizabeth. Essex seems to have always struggled with financial issues and often found himself living beyond his means and in debt, relying on his relationship with Elizabeth to attempt to increase his wealth and influence at court.

Essex led an incredibly fascinating life full of intrigue, often placing himself at the mercy of Elizabeth’s wrath through his ambition and arrogance. It is apparent he was jealous of other men who he saw as a threat to his influence with Elizabeth including Sir Walter Raleigh and the Cecil’s.

Essex was often in the midst of scandal and courtly secrets throughout his life, such as his secret wedding and sailing the seas with Drake without the Queen’s permission. It is difficult to understand why Elizabeth let him get away with so much and he clearly pushes the boundaries and eventually crosses the line.

I’m a huge fan of Riches previous books and this is another fabulous addition to the collection. Riches has a way of transporting you right into the centre of the life of his subject with detailed desciptives of the court, clothing and atmosphere.

The first in this series, Drake – Tudor Corsair was also a brilliant read and I am already looking forward to the next instalment!

Essex- Tudor Rebel is available as an ebook or paperback

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