Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Dangerous Inheritance by Alison weir

* * * 1/2


In this engrossing novel of historical suspense, New York Times bestselling author Alison Weir tells the dramatic intertwined stories of two women—Katherine Grey and Kate Plantagenet—separated by time but linked by twin destinies . . . . involving the mysterious tragic fate of the young Princes in the Tower.

When her older sister, Lady Jane Grey, the Nine Days’ Queen, is executed in 1554 for unlawfully accepting the English crown, Lady Katherine Grey’s world falls apart. Barely recovered from this tragic loss she risks all for love, only to incur the wrath of her formidable cousin Queen Elizabeth I, who sees Katherine as a rival for her insecure throne.

Interlaced with Katherine’s story is that of her distant kinswoman Kate Plantagenet, the bastard daughter of Richard III, the last Plantagenet king. In 1483, Kate travels to London for Richard’s coronation, and her world changes forever.

Kate loves her father, but before long she hears terrible rumors about him that threaten all she holds dear. Like Katherine Grey, she falls in love with a man who is forbidden to her. Then Kate embarks on what will become a perilous quest, covertly seeking the truth about what befell her cousins the Princes in the Tower, who may have been victims of Richard III’s lust for power. But time is not on Kate’s side, or on Katherine’s.

Katherine finds herself a prisoner in the Tower of London, the sinister fortress that overshadowed the lives of so many royal figures, including the boy princes. Will Elizabeth demand the full penalty for treason? And what secrets will Katherine find hidden within the Tower walls?

History is amazing. It’s the ultimate soap opera , reality show if you will, featuring impeccable heroes, devious scoundrels, dysfunctional families and egomaniacs  hungry for power. Weir’s novel encompasses all that delivering a well-crafted story set during two of the most tumultuous times in England and featuring one of the most gruesome murders in its history.

Weir parallels two young ladies who are witnesses to their respective monarchy’s uncertain futures.  Kate Plantagenet is the illegitimate daughter of Richard, Duke of Gloucester who ascends to the throne after imprisoning his two nephews in the Tower.  Katherine Grey, a cousin of Elizabeth I sits in the precarious position of being the potential rival to the throne should Elizabeth I not marry and have children.  Both are distantly related and both suffer tragically at the hands of their families and the political turmoil that they are unwittingly drawn into.

Rather than spell out how the story goes, I’ll explain how simply engrossing A Dangerous Inheritance is. Weir is an established historian and one of my favorite authors. (Yes, I did squeal like a little girl and do the happy dance when I received this ARC.) She has written extensively on the monarchy (I own many of her books) and her knowledge comes through very distinctly.  Two of her books in particular came in handy for me as I read this book, The War of the Roses and The Princes In The Tower.  Handy for me because I get geeky and like to research and look at genealogy charts.

What impressed me most was how Weir managed to make Richard III, one of the most reviled and ridiculed monarchs in English history, sympathetic through the eyes of his daughter Kate. She loves her father unconditionally and aims to disprove the malicious gossip at court surrounding her father’s unprecedented usurpation of the throne.  Many years later and Katherine Grey is embroiled in a Spanish conspiracy to depose Elizabeth I and plant her on the throne to restore Catholicism. Both girls, young and impressionable, are pawns in a volatile politically charged arena.

Whether you’re a fan of history or simply like some mystery with your historical fiction, A Dangerous Inheritance will pull you in. Weir is a remarkable writer. No matter fiction or non-fiction, she has always drawn me into the worlds she creates and I'm glad to feel as if I'm in the thick of it, not just a bystander reading words on a page. It’s not necessary at all to have previous knowledge of the political background in order to appreciate the course of events as they unfold in A Dangerous Inheritance. Weir does an excellent job of explaining the relationships and political ties without getting bogged down in too much weary detail.  However, if after reading this book, you feel so inclined to learn more about the of these families and the events mentioned, then I highly suggest her other two books I mentioned above.

~ Bel




  1. Although Alison Weir is my favorite author I tend to only read her non-fiction. okay that is a big story. However I do know I like her non-fiction way better. BUT, Innocent Traitor and now A Dangerous Inheritance have become at the very top of my list! Don't miss outI A Dangerous Inheritance is a page turner!

    charmaine of Janitorial Services Dallas

  2. Hi Charmaine! Yes I enjoy her non-fiction works as well. Her book on Elizabeth I is what first turned me on to her. She has an amazing way of making history come alive. I tend to be skeptical of historical fiction but I think she did a great job with this one. Thanks for stopping by! ~ Bel