The Secret Lion

( 14 )

Overview

Everyone has a secret.

Like the oyster with its grain of sand, we bury it deep within, coating it with opalescent layers as if that could heal our mortal wound. Some of us devote our entire lives to keeping our secret hidden, safe from those who might pry it from us, hoarding it like the pearl, only to discover that it escapes us when we least expect it, revealed by a flash of fear in our eyes when caught unawares, by a sudden pain, a rage or hatred, or an all-consuming shame.

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Overview

Everyone has a secret.

Like the oyster with its grain of sand, we bury it deep within, coating it with opalescent layers as if that could heal our mortal wound. Some of us devote our entire lives to keeping our secret hidden, safe from those who might pry it from us, hoarding it like the pearl, only to discover that it escapes us when we least expect it, revealed by a flash of fear in our eyes when caught unawares, by a sudden pain, a rage or hatred, or an all-consuming shame.

 I know all about secrets. Secrets upon secrets, wielded like weapons, like tethers, like bedside endearments. The truth alone can never suffice. Secrets are the coin of our world, the currency upon which we construct our edifice of grandeur and lies. We need our secrets to serve as iron for our shields, brocade for our bodies, and veils for our fears- they delude and comfort, shielding us always from the fact that in the end we, too, must die.

 "Write it all down," she tells me, "every last word."

We often sit like this in the winter of our lives, chronic insomniacs in outdated finery, the chessboard or the game of cards neglected on the table, as her eyes- alert and ever-wary after all these years, still leonine in a face grown gaunt with age- turn inward to that place where none has ever trespassed, to her own secret, which I now know, have perhaps always known, she must take with her to her grave.

"Write it down," she says, "so that when I am gone, you will remember."

As if I could ever forget . . .

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What People Are Saying

Linda Joy Myers
A page-turning story that captures the treacherous glamour of the 16th century. In Mr. Gortner's masterful hands, this is a world we want to inhabit and explore. Bring on the next book!
author of Writing Your Healing Story
Liz Berry
This riveting book captures the strangeness and incredible presence of Elizabeth I, which has echoed down through the ages.I've read a lot of books about Elizabeth, but I think this is the first I've come across, who has fully brought out that strange goddess/witch aspect of her which fascinated her contemporaries, and made it credible. It makes you remember that her mother Anne Boleyn was thought seriously to be a witch. Riveting!
author of The China Garden
Nick Canfield
An intriguing puzzle box of treason, betrayal and murder.
author of All Out of Heart: A Journalist's Memoir of the Civil War
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781933037356
  • Publisher: Heliographica Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2004
  • Pages: 252
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 14 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(12)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

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2 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2007

    Fast paced!

    Very much enjoyed this book. The author does a great job at making the story come to life. The descriptions of life in the 1500's are fascinating. Very fast pace story. At times a little too fast. He definitely leaves the ending open to a sequel which I hope he writes. Worth your time to read, and money spent on buying it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2007

    There are better books out there for the era.

    I was disappointed in this book. You barely got to know the characters. . .there were so many to follow. There are much better books out there if you like this time period. . ..I would suggest reading the Boleyn Inheritance or The Other Boleyn Girl.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2005

    A Real Gem

    Intrigue, suspense, and sixteenth-century charm are beautifully interwoven in a masterful tale by author Gortner, whose plot takes the reader on a compelling roller coaster reading experience. His writing skill and command of the period lead the reader expertly down a trail of treason and betrayal that is spellbinding and resplendent with its royal color. One can¿t help but be caught up in the story and captured by its themes of honor, character and loyalty so sadly lacking in today¿s world--but paraded with such strength and conviction in Gortner¿s ¿The Secret Lion.¿

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2005

    Superb historical mystery

    This is a treasure for historical fiction lovers! C.W. Gortner has woven a ripping great story into the Tudor period. Keeping a close eye on the history of the pre-Elizabethan era, he manages to sweep the reader into a world of mystery and intrigue that is as intimate as one man's search for his identity and as grand as the plots and schemes that surround Tudor royalty. This novel has it all! As a die-hard reader of both fiction and non-fiction centered around Medieval and Renaissance Europe, I am thrilled to see a new author of this caliber. Sharon K.Penman and Margaret George, look out! There's a new kid on the block and he's a real talent. I sincerely hope there's more where this came from!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2005

    The Secret is Out!

    The Secret Lion is the best book I have read in quite some time. It's a book you can really sink your teeth into! In fact, I enjoyed it so much that as soon as I finished it, I went back to the beginning and started all over again! It's that kind of ending...it leaves you wanting more. This book was a lot of fun to read and very hard to put down. The descriptions of castles and palaces were so intriguing, as were the descriptions of the clothing and fashions of the day. This book would definitely make a great movie. Full of intrigue and suspense. A very enjoyable read. I loved it!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2004

    Secret Lion

    This is a treasure for historical fiction lovers! C.W. Gortner has woven a ripping great story into the Tudor period. Keeping a close eye on the history of the pre-Elizabethan era, he manages to sweep the reader into a world of mystery and intrigue that is as intimate as one man's search for his identity and as grand as the plots and schemes that surround Tudor royalty. This novel has it all! As a die-hard reader of both fiction and non-fiction centered around Medieval and Renaissance Europe, I am thrilled to see a new author of this caliber. Sharon K.Penman and Margaret George, look out! There's a new kid on the block and he's a real talent. I sincerely hope there's more where this came from!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2004

    Secret Lion

    From the very first page of this fast-paced adventure, where the narrator looks back upon his youthful adventures and his first encounter with Elizabeth I, I was drawn in. I often felt as if I was standing in the same room, bending closer to hear what whispered conspiracies were afoot. Colors, sounds and textures come alive in this fabulous first novel, and the characters are memorable in their depth and complexity. Brendan Prescott is a feisty, ambitious, and sensitive youth caught in the deadly liaisons of the Tudor court, in a time when England edged toward civil war. Such well known historical persons as Lady Jane Grey, the handsome Robert Dudley and the entire scheming Dudley clan, the redoubtable Frances Brandon of Suffolk, and even a hunted and determined Mary Tudor (later Queen Mary I)come to life in a tense and action-packed narrative that never lets go. We are right there with him as Brendan tries to uncover the secret of his past, and races to save a headstrong Princess Elizabeth from betrayal and murder. One small criticism, which has nothing to do with the writing itself, is that C.W. Gortner's knowledge of the period is so encompassing, and the plot so intricate, that at moments I found myself having to consult the family tree at the end of the book to figure out who was who. But he does a great job of keeping characters well described and, when necessary, of reminding us that we've met them before, without being repetitive. And he doesn't leave a single plot thread hanging - except one, which of course is a teaser for the rest of the series! Gortner's love for the period and his characters shines through. His writing is dramatic without being cloying, and breathtakingly visual: I hope that many others will take advantage of this book and learn what it is to read the work of someone who is a master of the craft! Even as he dares present us with a rare look into the less palatable aspect of the Tudor world, his characterizations refrain from cliché or stereotype. Instead, he gives even his villains something human that defines them, and therefore makes them understandable to us. And his Elizabeth is almost pagan, and so vividly drawn she captures you - as she does Brendan - from the moment she appears on a misty river landing stage in a garden of Whitehall Palace. I couldn't wait to get home at night to read THE SECRET LION and I can't wait to for the sequel. Like Sharon Penman and Patricia Finney, this is a writer whom historical fiction and mystery fans alike will come to treasure.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2004

    Wow! What a great debut novel!

    A secret, an intriguing mystery - a labyrinth of a story that twists and turns us well surely, deep in an intricate maze set in Tudor Times. Pulled along by this well-plotted tale with a wonderful list of characters, the reader journeys with the main character, Brendan Prescott, to discover the truth whilst keeping hold of the author's 'What if?' thread. Historical possibilities are rendered possible through a carefully choreographed story. Gifted writers conjure words into magic: with a few words, a well-crafted sentence, a door opens and we're taken to another time and place. In his first published novel, C.W. Gortner shows himself a gifted writer and a magician at his craft. His prose brings alive Tudor England; prose also making us smell the evil of ambition and the lust for power emitting from the final days of the dying boy King, Edward VI. His story, taking us swiftly into the midst of Tudor intrigue, hooks the reader from first page to last - and becomes almost impossible to put down, especially when the story gets us thinking like a detective, who, what and why? Similar to the very likeable Brendan Prescott, whose life and identity are struck to its very core by the events of this story, we too seek for answers. Gortner depicts the Tudor personages from this time with skill and confidence. His Elizabeth is an absolute jewel of creation, portrayed so powerfully and vividly. In her own times, and hundreds of years later to our present time, Elizabeth caught many in her web of enchantment. With great passion for his subject, Gortner does her justice - we see her charisma, her strength, her intelligence, her vulnerability and her loyalty to those she loves - all reasons why she too was loved. Brendan says to the reader on first really meeting Elizabeth: 'There are moments that define our existence, moments that, if recognised, are pivotal turning points in our life. Like pearls on a chain, the accumulations of these moments will in the end become the essence of our youth, and provide solace when our end draws near. For me, meeting Elizabeth Tudor was one of those moments.' This passage struck a true chord for me, for I too have a pivotal turning point in my own life when a history of a dead queen set my feet on the road I walk today. I fell in love with Elizabeth as a child and I have never stopped loving her. It was a joy to see C.W. Gortner's vision of her so akin to mine. Tears came to my eyes when Elizabeth appeared early in the story leading a hound she called Urian. Those of us knowing the history of her mother, Anne Boleyn, know she too had a dog by this name. In Secret Lion, this scene conveys so vividly the depth and kind of emotion Elizabeth still feels toward the mother, a mother taken from her before the age of three. Elizabeth isn't the only Tudor character I enjoyed meeting in 'The Secret Lion.' Gortner's Mary Tudor is spot on - the good woman whose life's tragedy was to be born Tudor. Barnaby, childhood friend of both Elizabeth and her brother Edward, also comes vividly to life in this story, as too did Lady Jane Grey and her terrible, selfish mother. The first in a series, Secret Lion is a superb introduction to a new and gifted Tudor writer so clearly passionate about this period and its people. I simply can't wait for the next one, when I can catch up again with Elizabeth and friends! Wendy J. Dunn, author of Dear Heart, How Like You This?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2004

    A Time Machine to Tudor England!

    A vividly imagined tour-de-force of a pivotal year in the life of Elizabeth the first. Told from the perspective of Brendan Prescott, squire to Robert Dudley, insights are filtered through the eyes of a young man entering adulthood. No anachronisms here - I was transported to Tudor England and lamented the story's end when I read the last words and had to leave. A quicksilver first outing by novelist C. W. Gortner.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2004

    Secret Lion: A Novel of Suspense in the Tudor Court

    From the very first page of this fast-paced adventure, where the narrator looks back upon his youthful adventures and his first encounter with Elizabeth I, I was drawn in. I often felt as if I was standing in the same room, bending closer to hear what whispered conspiracies were afoot. Colors, sounds and textures come alive in this fabulous first novel, and the characters are memorable in their depth and complexity. Brendan Prescott is a feisty, ambitious, and sensitive youth caught in the deadly liaisons of the Tudor court, in a time when England edged toward civil war. Such well known historical persons as Lady Jane Grey, the handsome Robert Dudley and the entire scheming Dudley clan, the redoubtable Frances Brandon of Suffolk, and even a hunted and determined Mary Tudor (later Queen Mary I)come to life in a tense and action-packed narrative that never lets go. We are right there with him as Brendan tries to uncover the secret of his past, and races to save a headstrong Princess Elizabeth from betrayal and murder. C.W. Gortner's knowledge of the period is so encompassing, and the plot intricate, but he does a great job of keeping the reader in his sights at all times. Characters are vivid and well described, as is the landscape, the palaces, the stables and the kitchens. This is a novel where we see how the servants got to live, and how servants were often little more than slaves to their masters. Likewise, this novel gives us a glimpse into the spy service that would become a world-wide net under Elizabeth I, something rarely explored in fiction. Mr. Gortner weaves all of this into a highly readable and immediate narrative, and doesn't leave a single plot thread hanging - except one, which of course is a teaser for the rest of the series! Gortner's love for the period and his characters shines through. His writing is dramatic without being cloying, and breathtakingly visual: I hope that many others will take advantage of this book and learn what it is to read the work of someone who is a master of the craft! Even as he dares present us with a rare look into the less palatable aspect of the Tudor world, his characterizations refrain from cliché or stereotype. Instead, he gives even his villains something human that defines them, and therefore makes them understandable to us. And his Elizabeth is almost pagan, and so vividly drawn she captures you - as she does Brendan - from the moment she appears on a misty river landing stage in a garden of Whitehall Palace. I couldn't wait to get home at night to read THE SECRET LION and I can't wait to for the sequel. Like Sharon Penman and Patricia Finney, this is a writer whom historical fiction and mystery fans alike will come to treasure.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2004

    Secret Lion: A Novel of Suspense in the Tudor Court

    A secret, an intriguing mystery - a labyrinth of a story that twists and turns us well surely, deep in an intricate maze set in Tudor Times. Pulled along by this well-plotted tale with a wonderful list of characters, the reader journeys with the main character, Brendan Prescott, to discover the truth whilst keeping hold of the author's 'What if?' thread. Historical possibilities are rendered possible through a carefully choreographed story. Gifted writers conjure words into magic: with a few words, a well-crafted sentence, a door opens and we're taken to another time and place. In his first published novel, C.W. Gortner shows himself a gifted writer and a magician at his craft. His prose brings alive Tudor England; prose also making us smell the evil of ambition and the lust for power emitting from the final days of the dying boy King, Edward VI. His story, taking us swiftly into the midst of Tudor intrigue, hooks the reader from first page to last - and becomes almost impossible to put down, especially when the story gets us thinking like a detective, who, what and why? Similar to the very likeable Brendan Prescott, whose life and identity are struck to its very core by the events of this story, we too seek for answers. Gortner depicts the Tudor personages from this time with skill and confidence. His Elizabeth is an absolute jewel of creation, portrayed so powerfully and vividly.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2004

    Excellent read!

    This is a treasure for historical fiction lovers! C.W. Gortner has woven a ripping great story into the Tudor period. Keeping a close eye on the history of the pre-Elizabethan era, he manages to sweep the reader into a world of mystery and intrigue that is as intimate as one man's search for his identity and as grand as the plots and schemes that surround Tudor royalty. This novel has it all! As a die-hard reader of both fiction and non-fiction centered around Medieval and Renaissance Europe, I am thrilled to see a new author of this caliber. Sharon K.Penman and Margaret George, look out! There's a new kid on the block and he's a real talent. I sincerely hope there's more where this came from!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2004

    Great mystery & storyline, & fabulous characters!

    Intriguing 'secret' - kept my interest all the way! Wonderful characters, really appealing and diverse. Also, great depictions of (Queens-to-be) Mary and Elizabeth. Well-written, historically satisfying, and totally absorbing.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2004

    The Renaissance comes alive!

    A fast-paced and intruiging adventure! I often felt as if I were standing in the room, bending closer to hear what whispered conspiracies were afoot. Colors, sounds and textures come alive in this fabulous first novel. I hear there's a sequel, and I can't wait. Mr. Gortner's writing is breathtaking and I hope that many others will take advantage of this book and learn what it is to read the work of someone who is a master of the craft!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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