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The Captive Queen of Scots

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“Burn the murderess!” So begins Jean Plaidy’s The Captive Queen of Scots, the epic tale of the Scottish Queen Mary Stuart, cousin to Queen Elizabeth of England. After her husband, Lord Darnley, is murdered, suspicion falls on Mary and her lover, the Earl of Bothwell. A Catholic in a land of stern Protestants, Mary finds herself in the middle of a revolt, as her bloodthirsty “Burn the murderess!” So begins Jean Plaidy’s The Captive Queen of Scots, the epic tale of the Scottish Queen Mary Stuart, cousin to Queen Elizabeth of England. After her husband, Lord Darnley, is murdered, suspicion falls on Mary and her lover, the Earl of Bothwell. A Catholic in a land of stern Protestants, Mary finds herself in the middle of a revolt, as her bloodthirsty subjects call for her arrest and execution. In disgrace, she flees her Scottish persecutors for England, where she appeals to Queen Elizabeth for mercy, but to no avail. Throughout Mary’s long years as the Queen’s prisoner, she conceives many bold plans for revenge and escaping to freedom—but the gallows of Fotheringhay Castle loom . . . Set against royal pageantry, religious strife, and bloody uprising—and filled with conspiracies, passion, heartbreak, and fascinating historical detail—The Captive Queen of Scots is an unforgettable, page-turning tale of the intense rivalry between two powerful women of noble blood.


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“Burn the murderess!” So begins Jean Plaidy’s The Captive Queen of Scots, the epic tale of the Scottish Queen Mary Stuart, cousin to Queen Elizabeth of England. After her husband, Lord Darnley, is murdered, suspicion falls on Mary and her lover, the Earl of Bothwell. A Catholic in a land of stern Protestants, Mary finds herself in the middle of a revolt, as her bloodthirsty “Burn the murderess!” So begins Jean Plaidy’s The Captive Queen of Scots, the epic tale of the Scottish Queen Mary Stuart, cousin to Queen Elizabeth of England. After her husband, Lord Darnley, is murdered, suspicion falls on Mary and her lover, the Earl of Bothwell. A Catholic in a land of stern Protestants, Mary finds herself in the middle of a revolt, as her bloodthirsty subjects call for her arrest and execution. In disgrace, she flees her Scottish persecutors for England, where she appeals to Queen Elizabeth for mercy, but to no avail. Throughout Mary’s long years as the Queen’s prisoner, she conceives many bold plans for revenge and escaping to freedom—but the gallows of Fotheringhay Castle loom . . . Set against royal pageantry, religious strife, and bloody uprising—and filled with conspiracies, passion, heartbreak, and fascinating historical detail—The Captive Queen of Scots is an unforgettable, page-turning tale of the intense rivalry between two powerful women of noble blood.

30 review for The Captive Queen of Scots

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    I ended up enjoying this one as much as the one about the first half of her life. I loved all the contrasts between Mary and Elizabeth I. I'm definitely going to read Plaidy's take on Elizabeth I soon. I ended up enjoying this one as much as the one about the first half of her life. I loved all the contrasts between Mary and Elizabeth I. I'm definitely going to read Plaidy's take on Elizabeth I soon.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mirah W

    I guess my lesson from this is "be careful what you wish for." When I read the prequel 'The Road to Fotheringhay' I was wishing there was more detail about Mary's life as a prisoner of Elizabeth. Well, this book delivered that and it was painful. It was a constant back and forth between manors, castles, and keeps where Mary was held...one failed escape after another...childish "she's prettier than me" slaps from Elizabeth. I was so bored after the half way point....this book needed some major re I guess my lesson from this is "be careful what you wish for." When I read the prequel 'The Road to Fotheringhay' I was wishing there was more detail about Mary's life as a prisoner of Elizabeth. Well, this book delivered that and it was painful. It was a constant back and forth between manors, castles, and keeps where Mary was held...one failed escape after another...childish "she's prettier than me" slaps from Elizabeth. I was so bored after the half way point....this book needed some major revisions. I don't know what the editor was doing when going through this manuscript...well, he or she probably fell asleep and decided Plaidy's previous works could vouch for her...well, I don't think so.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Thalia

    My first introduction to Jean Plaidy and only my second fiction read on the Queen of Scots. Being that I didn't read book one in this series of two I had a bit of a go getting into the story for the first couple of chapters. I was, however, impressed by the detail and by the end of the book relieved at the lack of "intimate" scenes as the cover of my vintage copy looks very much like a bodice ripper. I found the story a bit repetitive but then the story was I suppose - captured, plot to escape, My first introduction to Jean Plaidy and only my second fiction read on the Queen of Scots. Being that I didn't read book one in this series of two I had a bit of a go getting into the story for the first couple of chapters. I was, however, impressed by the detail and by the end of the book relieved at the lack of "intimate" scenes as the cover of my vintage copy looks very much like a bodice ripper. I found the story a bit repetitive but then the story was I suppose - captured, plot to escape, discovered, moved to another castle/prison, plot, discovered, move castles, plot, discovered...we you get the idea. I look forward to trying some of her other Tudor work.

  4. 4 out of 5

    BAM Endlessly Booked

    One of Plaidy's best! She left nothing out of Queen Mary of France and Scotland's life. She was just too tender, too sentimental, too trusting to live the life of a military royal, which one had to be at that time in history. She wanted everyone to be friends. That's not how any of this works. AND for someone who wanted to trust people she sure did intrigue in spades. One of Plaidy's best! She left nothing out of Queen Mary of France and Scotland's life. She was just too tender, too sentimental, too trusting to live the life of a military royal, which one had to be at that time in history. She wanted everyone to be friends. That's not how any of this works. AND for someone who wanted to trust people she sure did intrigue in spades.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kiesha ~ 1Cheekylass

    I love Elizabeth I; I've never quiet tried to see Mary Queen of Scots side of the story because of the love for Elizabeth I... However, lately, I've been reading a lot of fiction and non-fiction with historical research in between reading and I'm more of a fan of Mary now more so than I ever thought I would be. Historically and from a leaders perspective, I understand Elizabeth's decision. However from a modern perspective, I can't help but side with Mary. How many of us would sit by idly whilst I love Elizabeth I; I've never quiet tried to see Mary Queen of Scots side of the story because of the love for Elizabeth I... However, lately, I've been reading a lot of fiction and non-fiction with historical research in between reading and I'm more of a fan of Mary now more so than I ever thought I would be. Historically and from a leaders perspective, I understand Elizabeth's decision. However from a modern perspective, I can't help but side with Mary. How many of us would sit by idly whilst being imprisoned by someone who really didn't have the authority to do so? Then there's her life as a whole--I'm not sure she really stood a chance. Although her mother thought she was helping her, she all but ruined Mary to be a true Queen of Scots by sending her to be raised in France and thus heavily influenced by those who had an agenda. She was taught to forget her Scottish roots and ancestry. She didn't have great counselors or even a mother/father to guide her. Those who did mostly had an agenda. Politically, Scotland was turbulent during her lifetime--it was not a place for a novice or naive person. It's as if this baby queen was doomed from birth. I see a woman who wanted to enjoy life, be loved and give love in a return; I don't think she was overly ambitious. Mind, I don't think Mary was a saint but she felt more human than other monarchs and perhaps that is why I suddenly feel so connected to her. I think that she was a better person than Elizabeth but Elizabeth was a better monarch. I can't help but wonder if Mary would have done better to be more of a tyrant like Elizabeth at times? To not forgive so easy, to not be as tolerant of religion--particularly regarding Knox who was such a big part of shaping how the common folk perceived viewed her. One thing she lacked that Elizabeth had was LOYAL counselors, counselors who had been with her for years, through the good and bad... Although, I don't think tyranny was in her nature. This book was really sad--it starts out with her imprisoned in Scotland, to imprisonment in England to finally her death on the scaffold. The book was interesting though; it was nice to compare this to other historical fiction about Mary--my favorite is still Mary Queen of Scotland and The Isles by Margaret George as it's primarily historical with fiction thrown in here and there. This book I felt was more fiction with some history but enjoyable all the same. I've really come to love Jean Plaidy. Jilly Bond's narration was great but the way she pronounced Mary Seton's name sounded like "Satan" instead.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    So interesting to read this during quarantine and feeling (sorta) like a prisoner. I loved the description of the castles, countryside and clothing and the nuance of royal politics, in particular.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Marjorie

    Written in 1963, this book certainly reflects the beliefs about women; rape unlocks women's sexuality, a woman is either cold and self centered (Elizabeth) or sweet, sunny, and a stupid judge of character (Mary). Men were fooled by her love of the arts to think that Mary was an airhead. All very popular notions about women at the time. She could always be cheered up by a little music. Duh. Since the places, timeline, and outcome are all known, it got tedious to continue so I stopped. Yet another Written in 1963, this book certainly reflects the beliefs about women; rape unlocks women's sexuality, a woman is either cold and self centered (Elizabeth) or sweet, sunny, and a stupid judge of character (Mary). Men were fooled by her love of the arts to think that Mary was an airhead. All very popular notions about women at the time. She could always be cheered up by a little music. Duh. Since the places, timeline, and outcome are all known, it got tedious to continue so I stopped. Yet another dismal prison castle.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Aravind NG

    Oh, Seton. I sometimes wonder if Jean Plaidy wrote it from the Tutbury castle itself for it is dull and dragging. The only good thing about the book is that I learned a lot (through Wikipedia) about royal and noble ranks, and peerage. I wouldn't recommend this book unless you're imprisoned and must pass time somehow, and this is the only book available to read. Oh, Seton. I sometimes wonder if Jean Plaidy wrote it from the Tutbury castle itself for it is dull and dragging. The only good thing about the book is that I learned a lot (through Wikipedia) about royal and noble ranks, and peerage. I wouldn't recommend this book unless you're imprisoned and must pass time somehow, and this is the only book available to read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Louisa

    Ugh. Poor writing, and little character development by page 100. Not worth finishing.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Can't force myself any further, dry and not at all engaging. Can't force myself any further, dry and not at all engaging.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Val Fournier

    I love historical fiction, but this was horrible. The dialogue was forced, the story jumped all over and the characters were flat.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Phil Syphe

    Although I’m English, it doesn’t stop me having the utmost sympathy for Mary, Queen of Scots. In some ways she resembles Marie Antoinette, whom I’m also sympathetic towards. Both had their faults, but they each had a good heart. I really like Jean Plaidy’s version of Mary. Near the end of the book, I was close to tears, and few novels have that affect on me, and it’s all down to the author making me care about Mary and those closest to the unfortunate queen. I would’ve given “The Captive Queen of Although I’m English, it doesn’t stop me having the utmost sympathy for Mary, Queen of Scots. In some ways she resembles Marie Antoinette, whom I’m also sympathetic towards. Both had their faults, but they each had a good heart. I really like Jean Plaidy’s version of Mary. Near the end of the book, I was close to tears, and few novels have that affect on me, and it’s all down to the author making me care about Mary and those closest to the unfortunate queen. I would’ve given “The Captive Queen of Scots” five stars, but as always, this author has elements of weakness in her writing style. I wish she’d spent more time revising her novels as opposed to writing as many as possible. As usual, we get the passive voice: “the arms of Eleanor” and “the bridle of her horse”, when the active voice would’ve enhanced the narrative: “Eleanor’s arms” and “her horse’s bridle.” We also have a lot of reported speech, which is passive: “Melville said he thought this would be desirable. So Sir William turned to his mother and asked that wine should be sent to his small private chamber, and there he would confer with the visitor.” Had the author put the above quote in dialogue, it would’ve been much more engaging. Most passive of all is “telling”, not “showing”: “Mary showed her relief.” “Cecil looked shocked.” “Mary was startled. She had not known that change was contemplated. She was alarmed.” The above examples – and there are many others – could all have been “shown” to offer a better reading experience. A typical Plaidy trait, which annoys a lot of her readers, is repetition. One phrase in particular crops up often in this authors books, and it’s greatly overused in this one, namely “without delay”. The number of times this phrase appears shows a lack of imagination, and suggests that the manuscript didn’t receive nearly enough revisions. A keen author would look at replacing an over-repeated phrase with several alternatives. It’s as if the author has the phrase stuck in her head, as sometimes it sounds unnatural, like in this case: “‘I will burn this without delay.’” The character who says the above line then carries on talking for a while, which is in itself a delay. Also, it’s more likely she would’ve said something like, “‘I'll burn this as soon as possible.’” Another example of the phrase sounding unnatural: “‘Who else is with you in this enterprise?’” “‘Certain gentlemen whom you shall meet without delay.’” Again, wouldn’t it be more likely that he’d say, “‘Certain gentlemen whom you’ll meet shortly”? Also, the character doesn’t meet the gentlemen at once, so again there is a delay, which makes the overused phrase sound silly. I wish the author had spent time making every word count. Anyway, apart from the stylistic issues, I enjoyed this novel very much.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Helen Robare

    I first read this book as a teenager many decades ago. I saw this book on the sale shelf at the library .50 for hardcover and I just had to buy it and the one that goes along with it "Royal Road to Fotheringhay". They were well worth the $1.00 I paid for them both. This author invoked all the emotions in my 62 years body just as they did when I was 13. Though I'm a lot wiser and bowed by life, this book still invoked the same questions the other day as they did when I was a teen. Why did Mary go I first read this book as a teenager many decades ago. I saw this book on the sale shelf at the library .50 for hardcover and I just had to buy it and the one that goes along with it "Royal Road to Fotheringhay". They were well worth the $1.00 I paid for them both. This author invoked all the emotions in my 62 years body just as they did when I was 13. Though I'm a lot wiser and bowed by life, this book still invoked the same questions the other day as they did when I was a teen. Why did Mary go into a country for shelter where she knew its monarch didn't like her? Why didn't Mary take advantage of the Spanish king's ships to sail away to Spain? Did she really believe she was the true Queen of England? Of course, these are all questions that will never be answered (unless someone invents the time machine) but they are fun to ponder. Mary was not a stupid woman but she definitely made some mistakes in her life. I believe Mary's problem was that she thought with her heart while her adversary, Elizabeth I, thought with her head/brain. This is my Elizabeth survived to give her name to an entire age while Mary has gone down in history as the poor deluded simpleton when the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Jean Plaidy's books are perfect for beginners who are new to the vast history of England but they are also entertaining for those who have a good background knowledge of British history as well as being an excellent stepping stone to more thorough and involved authors of English history.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Christine Cazeneuve

    As Jean Plaidy is my favorite author on historical fiction I would be disappointed if it was anything less than 5 stars! This book mainly covers the years of Mary's imprisonment at the hands of Queen Elizabeth. The way she writes the book you can feel the years drag on and the madness that had to be the feeling of being free but not. Don't get me wrong it is not boring by any means. Mary's kindness and trustworthiness to others is what did her in, but I cannot fault her as I blame this on her up As Jean Plaidy is my favorite author on historical fiction I would be disappointed if it was anything less than 5 stars! This book mainly covers the years of Mary's imprisonment at the hands of Queen Elizabeth. The way she writes the book you can feel the years drag on and the madness that had to be the feeling of being free but not. Don't get me wrong it is not boring by any means. Mary's kindness and trustworthiness to others is what did her in, but I cannot fault her as I blame this on her upbringing. While the majority of her childhood was in France, they never taught her to be a ruling monarch so she had no idea how to handle the terrible situation she was forced to be in. Great read and not to be missed.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ally

    3 Stars Better written, and better plot, than the previous novel of hers that I read, Mary, Queen of France, which admittedly is a favorite re-read of mine. A guilty pleasure of sorts. But yes, The Captive Queen of Scots is certainly better. 3 Stars Better written, and better plot, than the previous novel of hers that I read, Mary, Queen of France, which admittedly is a favorite re-read of mine. A guilty pleasure of sorts. But yes, The Captive Queen of Scots is certainly better.

  16. 4 out of 5

    McKenna

    To be honest, I didn't finish the book. It definitely needed some better editing, but the story was okay. I was just incredibly bored and felt like I was trying to wade knee-deep through mud. I just dreaded having to read it and wanted to be finished so I finally quit. It follows the history decently, I just didn't have the patience. To be honest, I didn't finish the book. It definitely needed some better editing, but the story was okay. I was just incredibly bored and felt like I was trying to wade knee-deep through mud. I just dreaded having to read it and wanted to be finished so I finally quit. It follows the history decently, I just didn't have the patience.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Marge Congress

    The highly respected author of books on the Tudor period, this is a very long book which does not deal with Mary's entire life, only about her leaving Scotland after Bothwell abandons her, and her capture and imprisonment in England. Very detailed, with things I had not read before, I enjoyed it. It took a long time to read, but I am glad I went on that journey. The highly respected author of books on the Tudor period, this is a very long book which does not deal with Mary's entire life, only about her leaving Scotland after Bothwell abandons her, and her capture and imprisonment in England. Very detailed, with things I had not read before, I enjoyed it. It took a long time to read, but I am glad I went on that journey.

  18. 4 out of 5

    A.J. Adams

    I think that Queen Mary was a very nasty piece of work but what I love about Jean Plaidy is that she can make anyone sympathetic. Also, her research is excellent so names, places and events are accurate even if the thoughts, emotions and motivations can be very suspect!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    Incredibly boring book. The poor, sweet, wonderful Mary theme dragged on and on for hundreds of pages when the story could have been told in a third of the time. Manages to to turn Mary into an irritating Mary-Sue and in the end I couldn't wait to get to the execution. Incredibly boring book. The poor, sweet, wonderful Mary theme dragged on and on for hundreds of pages when the story could have been told in a third of the time. Manages to to turn Mary into an irritating Mary-Sue and in the end I couldn't wait to get to the execution.

  20. 4 out of 5

    betty russell

    Queen Mary of Scotland What a sad queen. She was to kind to be a ruler. Too frivolous and totally unaware of the dangers of others whose motives were not honorable. I would classify her as a innocent in this story and that's what makes it so sad Queen Mary of Scotland What a sad queen. She was to kind to be a ruler. Too frivolous and totally unaware of the dangers of others whose motives were not honorable. I would classify her as a innocent in this story and that's what makes it so sad

  21. 5 out of 5

    Cace

    Since I just visited Edinburgh last month, I was looking for a story about Mary, Queen of Scots and this is a good one. Although it focuses mainly on her time as a prisoner of Queen Elizabeth it’s very interesting.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Having a huge interest in Tudor history, this was always going to be a winner for me! I felt It brought Queen Mary back to life and my heart genuinely wept at the end. I felt bereft that the book was over,

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jojo

    Wasn't super into this Jean Plaidy, whom I usually enjoy quite a bit but I think that has more to do with the content of the novel. Not really the most exciting stuff going on in this one: move from prison to prison, attempts to escape and then finally off with her head. Wasn't super into this Jean Plaidy, whom I usually enjoy quite a bit but I think that has more to do with the content of the novel. Not really the most exciting stuff going on in this one: move from prison to prison, attempts to escape and then finally off with her head.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Neil Kinnin

    Absolutely loved this book. I only wish there were more than two books in his series. Highly recommended to anyone with even a fleeting interest in Mary, Queen of Scots.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Archard

    This story is British history at its most intriguing, the majority of the book is known fact but Plaidy tells the story in her usual way, making it an enjoyable read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Hassig

    I Have Always Enjoyed Jean Plaidy! I have read many of Jean Plaidy's books since I first discovered them many years ago. Especially her series on the Tudors. I Have Always Enjoyed Jean Plaidy! I have read many of Jean Plaidy's books since I first discovered them many years ago. Especially her series on the Tudors.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Marie Burton

    Jean Plaidy has written herself another fun-to-read novel and this was a follow up to her "Royal Road to Fotheringay". I found this book to have a sympathetic view on Mary more so than usual. Mary does not want any harm to come to Elizabeth I, her captor for almost 20 years, and in this (fiction) book that is repeated continually in order to propose the more innocent side of Mary. As I have not ready many non-fiction or in-depth books specifically on Mary and her involvement in the many plots th Jean Plaidy has written herself another fun-to-read novel and this was a follow up to her "Royal Road to Fotheringay". I found this book to have a sympathetic view on Mary more so than usual. Mary does not want any harm to come to Elizabeth I, her captor for almost 20 years, and in this (fiction) book that is repeated continually in order to propose the more innocent side of Mary. As I have not ready many non-fiction or in-depth books specifically on Mary and her involvement in the many plots that sprang up in order to promote her release, I can not say for sure how involved she was. In this book, Elizabeth is portrayed as indeed wanting Mary to die as soon as possible, because of the religious strife that England had undergone. Before Elizabeth, there was her older half-sister, Mary who had ruled England as a Catholic nation and persecuted the "heretics" with zeal. Smithfield became the place where the executions were taking place and caused so much fear that Protestantism had to be practiced behind closed doors. After Mary I's death, Edward VI was crowned King at 9 years old, allowed Protestantism again through the rule of his Advisers. At Edwards' death, Lady Jane Grey was queen for nine days and finally we come to Elizabeth. She was crowned in 1558, and she was a Protestant. Mary Stuart was very Catholic, although she vowed she would allow her people to freely pray regardless of their beliefs, since that one God was the same God between the two. Due to this tolerance, some of the English would not have minded Mary Stuart being an heir to the throne, and of course, many of the Scottish believed Elizabeth had no right at all to the throne since Elizabeth's mother was Anne Boelyn, who was beheaded and no friend to the Catholic Church. The Catholics liked to call Elizabeth a bastard and therefore felt that Mary Stuart, as a great-granddaughter of Henry VII, had a stronger claim to the throne. It was because of these facts that Elizabeth felt a very strong threat from Mary Stuart, and kept her imprisoned for almost 20 years. The book shows how Mary tried to escape several times. The Babington Plot existed due the arrogance and stupidity of Anthony Babington, for it was just a ruse set up by Walsingham, Elizabeth's agent. Babington was executed, as was the Duke of Norfolk for an earlier plot who wished to marry Mary, although they had not met. In this book, it is portrayed as Mary trying not to have a lot of responsibility in the plots, but that she indeed wanted out of captivity. In reality, she was probably much more shrewd and willing to stop at nothing to get herself out of Elizabeth's grip, and to rule Scotland and England together as eventually Mary's son did. There were many plots created in her name, but not endorsed by Mary. Elizabeth is shown much less sympathetically in this book and is eager to find a way to do away with Mary for good without making it look like she ordered it done. Eventually Elizabeth gets her wish at the end of this book, and a very solemn Mary is beheaded at Fotheringay. There are some who like to believe that Elizabeth did not know she was signing a Death Warrant for Mary, as it was with 'a pile of papers.' I will be eager to read more non-fictions books on the Queen of Scots and try to see where the line is between the truth and fiction regarding her involvement in the many plots, and if she truly loved Bothwell or the Duke of Norfolk. And did George Douglas's love for her exist? I give "The Captive Queen of Scots" 5 stars, of course.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Annette O'grady

    a very interesting read

  29. 4 out of 5

    Christie

    First sentence: "Burn the murderess!" This novel of Mary, Queen of Scots begins after the defeat of Mary and Bothwell's troops at Carberry Hill and ends with her execution. It covers the 20-odd years she spent in captivity in Scotland and England and the many abortive escape attempts and conspiracies she took part in. It tells this story with great historical accuracy and the entertainment value of a prime time TV drama. I picked up this book not knowing it was covering just the last 20 years of First sentence: "Burn the murderess!" This novel of Mary, Queen of Scots begins after the defeat of Mary and Bothwell's troops at Carberry Hill and ends with her execution. It covers the 20-odd years she spent in captivity in Scotland and England and the many abortive escape attempts and conspiracies she took part in. It tells this story with great historical accuracy and the entertainment value of a prime time TV drama. I picked up this book not knowing it was covering just the last 20 years of Mary's life, what I have always thought of as the boring years where she was just moved by Elizabeth I from one castle to another until Elizabeth could find a reason to have her executed. I am much more partial to the story of Mary's early life: growing up in the French court, her husband Darnley's brutal murder, and her relationship with Bothwell, Darnley's murderer. However, this book was surprisingly interesting and entertaining. Jean Plaidy brings a lot to the table in this book. The secondary characters are very relatable and have their own personalities and side stories within the book. I liked this looking beyond Mary. I immensely enjoyed George and Willie Douglas, Mary Seton, and Bess of Hardwick. The author also did a good job of pacing the novel. A lot of books I've read about Mary Queen of Scots (both fiction and nonfiction) either drag the captivity part out or rush through it. In this book it does not feel too slow or too fast. I feel I gained more knowledge of what actually went on in Mary's captive years from this book than others I have read, even more than the biographies I read. The author's take on the two queens, Mary and Elizabeth, was very biased towards Mary. Mary is shown as an innocent victim of everyone else who is not responsible for anything that happens to her. Elizabeth is shown as someone akin to The Evil Queen in Snow White, who cannot stand thinking that there is someone prettier than her in the kingdom and will stop at nothing to destroy such beauty. Like any historical figures, there is more than meets the eye with these two women and I would have liked to see a more 3 dimensional version of these characters. This book is also apparently part of a series (which I didn't know when picking it up). Since I knew enough about Mary, Queen of Scots, I could follow the story quite well, but for people who aren't as familiar with the story they might want to picked up the first book first.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    Having never read anything specifically about Mary, Queen of Scots, I was interested to see how this book portrayed her. From what I've read in other books, she was portrayed as being a conniving, sly, loose woman who felt she was the true heir to the English throne and wanted it no matter what, but people of her own faith almost worshiped her and thought she was like the Virgin Mary on Earth. This book portrays her as a very forgiving, trusting woman who only wants her freedom, her kingdom, and Having never read anything specifically about Mary, Queen of Scots, I was interested to see how this book portrayed her. From what I've read in other books, she was portrayed as being a conniving, sly, loose woman who felt she was the true heir to the English throne and wanted it no matter what, but people of her own faith almost worshiped her and thought she was like the Virgin Mary on Earth. This book portrays her as a very forgiving, trusting woman who only wants her freedom, her kingdom, and her son back, with no thoughts to the English throne. She also doesn't come across as so completely devoted to the Catholic faith in this novel, as at one point, she entertains the idea of converting to Protestantism in order to marry Norfolk. The descriptions of some of the castles she was held in are quite detailed and I couldn't help but feel sorry for the woman every time she had to return to them. While I'm not as interested in Mary, Queen of Scots as I am her cousin, Elizabeth, it was interesting to see another side to the story. It is well written, as all of Plaidy's books have been so far, and a good read. While these two portrayals of Mary are quite different, I tend to believe that she probably fell somewhere in between the two - not a completely sneaky, sly woman, probably very giving and kind to those around her, but probably involved in the most of the plots to rescue her and regain her throne along with England's.

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