There are plenty of reasons to like this book. But chief among them is the fact that this work of fiction is written by a reputable historian, Alison Weir, who knows her stuff and for the most part doesn’t mess with the history (except for one controversial plot point) which I appreciated. Her understanding of Elizabeth’s character helps her here; and while her Elizabeth is not as compelling as in Susan Kay’s “Legacy” or even “I, Elizabeth” she is convincingly authentic. The young Elizabeth is endearingly precocious, much as she would have been in real life (at age three after the death of her mother and her bastardization, the perceptive child was recorded as having asked her steward, “How haps it, my lord, that yesterday my lady Princess and today my lady Elizabeth?”). I found the qualities of vanity and imperiousness in the young Elizabeth rather adorable. It is when she enters adolescence that the book loses its way.
The well-known story of Elizabeth’s seduction at the hands of Thomas Seymour is told with a twist here. Without spoiling the story I’ll say that it causes Elizabeth quite a lot of trouble which ultimately harms the book. Elizabeth’s story is exciting enough without any artificial drama. Weir based this particular plot point on a rumor, making it not completely out-of-left-field. But I found it disappointing in a book that was otherwise historically accurate.
Overall however, I think this book should be part of the collection of any Queen Elizabeth I fan. For a beginner, I would recommend the novels “Legacy” and I, Elizabeth” which tell the same story slightly less in depth but without the irritating plot contrivance.