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Dark Queen Waiting

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Member Reviews

Historically accurate and engaging. I love Paul Doherty and will continue to read his books. The characters feel real and the author makes history come alive.
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Margaret Beaufort, mother to Henry Tudor, is in hiding while the York monarch sits the Throne of England.  When she finds out that one of her supporters has been killed in a locked church where he sought sanctuary, she sends Christopher Urswicke to try to make heads or tails of the mystery. Is someone in her employ a traitor?  If so, who?

I found the long chapters a bit troublesome, making it tough to find a decent spot to stop when I needed to put the book down for a time.  That being said, the story line was excellent, characters are well developed and I enjoyed the book.  I have read other books by Mr. Doherty and do like his writing style.  I will be looking for more in this series.
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Thanks to netgalley and Severn House for this ARC.

This is a bloody, exciting, and ruthless maze of loyalties, betrayal, and history.  Its not easy to keep all the different factions up the in air. It takes a talented author to write about this time period.
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DARK QUEEN WAITING, Paul Doherty, Severn House Publishers, London, 2109.

In 1471, England is in the hands of the House of York. King Edward IV employs a vast network of spies, assassins, and informants to crush the House of Lancaster. Opposing him is the pious, cunning, and ruthless Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond, who has her own network working relentlessly to protect her exiled son, Henry Tudor, and install him on the throne of England. Her most trusted accomplice is the brilliant Christopher Urswicke, whose equally brilliant nemesis is his own father, who serves as enforcer to the House of York. 
 “Dark” is the unrelenting tone of this mystery. Action unfolds in dim, putrid alleys of London, dimly back rooms of taverns, dungeons, and churchyard shadows. Dung collectors may be informants. Men are murdered in chambers seemingly locked from within, and the murders themselves are executed by a variety of horrific means. 
This is the second of Paul Doherty’s Margaret Beaufort mysteries, drawing on Doherty’s formidable mastery of the English medieval and Renaissance world. Sensory specifics put the reader deep into the underbelly of the monarchy, in which priests may be spies and fathers, sons, and brothers may be mortal enemies. A character list helps readers identify major players in the large cast.
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Dark Queen Waiting for her chance to shine. Margaret Beaufort is waiting. She knows how to wait. She is surrounded by a colourful bunch of people. All of them made name for themselves in history.
Who is a friend? Who is a traitor? Is there such a thing as a friend where the crown is concerned?
Paul Doherty drew a very multi-leveled picture of the time, the people, the plots. His York and Lancaster division is all about people, personal grudges, slights, broken promises. The war of roses is all about 'who is first to the top' and has nothing to do with ideology and high beliefs. 
Dark Queen Waiting is a very complex read. It is like a slow flowing river. And reader is on a light boat, just going along with the flow. Watching events unravel. Watching people reveal themselves. 
This book is very useful and interesting if one wants to know the other side of the medal (not Sun in Splendour but the Dark Queen Waiting in the shadows)
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This is an interesting mystery series with the war of the roses as the backdrop , I enjoy the characters but the plot is a little hard to follow at times.
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Long a Tudor fan, I was enthralled with this perceptive look at Margaret of Beaufort, mother of Henry VIII. Her long fight to keep her son safe and to ultimately place him on the throne made her a strong, cunning, intelligent woman wrangling her way into the lofty rooms power. An amazing woman and a very worthwhile read.
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Paul Doherty takes us directly into the deadly War of the Roses as the Yorkist King Edward and his henchman the London Recorder Sir Thomas Urswicke plot to murder and remove the followers of Margaret Beaufort,Countess of Richmond,  and her son, Prince Henry Tudor.  Christoper Urswicke, son of Sir Thomas, and Reginald Bray are the two most faithful clerks of Margaret Beaufort, but they are unable to stop the murder in sanctuary o Yorkist supporters.  There is a traitor somewhere. Meanwhile Lady Anne Neville goes missing and the Dukes of Gloucester and Clarence are at each other's throats over Gloucester's marriage to heiress Anne.  Twists and turns; betrayal and murder.  Darkest historical tales of murder and mystery.
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Of Kings and Royal ambitions!

Doherty continues his brilliant fictional treatise centered around Margaret of Beaufort, Henry Tudor's mother, and her deceptively focused fight to keep her son safe and bring him to the English throne. Standing with her are her redoubtable and loyal clerks Christopher Urswicke and Reginald Bray
The House of York is divided against itself, Edward is king. His Recorder, Sir Thomas Urswicke, Christopher's father, is cunning and vicious in his plans to bring Margaret and the Tudors to heel. Needless to say father and son are estranged, although it appears Thomas still hopes for Christopher's loyalty.
Trusted welshmen, part of the Red Dragon Battle Group are being hounded to death. Even claiming the church's sanctuary sees them mysteriously slain.
Margaret and her loyal supporters must come up with a plan to thwart the Recorder's  intentions. And as plans take root, they come to an inescapable truth. There is a traitor working in their midst. The Recorder intends the sanctuary men to be escorted to the coast and exiled. Of course, much can happen on that long march. Margaret elects to accompany them. 
Truly some of the descriptions Doherty gives of the conditions on the streets, of the merry making on the occasion of a public hanging, of conditions in jails, and in the dank alleyways are akin to descending into Dante's Inferno at the very worst and a Bruegel painting at the very best. These illuminating word pictures are not far from that!
Doherty's research is as always superb, his writing flawlessly incorporating facts into the narrative. I was taken by his comments about this period in his Author's Note. 
"I have always believed that during the period 1471 to 1485 some dark nemesis stalked the House of York. I suspect this nemesis was the innocent-looking yet very shrewd Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond. Margaret was a truly brilliant strategist and a ‘master of politic’: a woman assisted by her two clerks, Reginald Bray and Christopher Urswicke, who themselves matched their mistress’s talents."  I must say I found the accompanying reflection about Christopher Urswicke telling.
Master storyteller Doherty does indeed pen a fabulously twisty historical novel.

A Severn House ARC via NetGalley
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I usually love Paul Doherty's books but this one failed to keep my attention and the story fell flat.
Not my cup of tea.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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My thanks to Severn House/Crème de la Crime for a digital edition via NetGalley of ‘Dark Queen Waiting’ by Paul Doherty in exchange for an honest review.

This historical mystery is the second in Doherty’s Margaret Beaufort Mysteries set during the reign of Edward IV after the House of York has prevailed over the House of Lancaster. Margaret Beaufort, the Countess of Richmond, was the mother of Henry Tudor, who at the time of this novel (1471) is living in exile in France.

Margaret continues to quietly plot for the day that Henry can return and claim the throne. When one of her closest supporters is murdered while claiming sanctuary in a London church she calls on her trusted clerk, Christopher Urswicke, to discover the identity of the murderer.

This is literally a locked room mystery as the man was killed in a room with all doors locked from inside. His is the first in a number of deaths that Christopher and his companions investigate.

I was not previously aware of Paul Doherty’s work and was impressed by the number of titles that he has written since the late 1980s (well over 100!). He is also a historian and educator. 

As I would expect with this background his work is meticulously researched. I was only aware when I read his Author’s Note that Christopher Urswicke and Margaret‘s other clerk, Reginald Bray, were historical figures. He also gives an account of the historical facts behind the fiction.

I certainly admire this as I can be quite pedantic about accuracy in historical fiction. However, it was quite a slow burn, which may not suit everyone. I also found Margaret a little hard to relate to as I am a Yorkist at heart. 

Still, this is a solid historical mystery that kept me guessing as to whodunnit. I may well be looking at his other titles including ‘Dark Queen Rising’, the first in this series.

3.5 stars rounded up to 4.
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Dark Queen Waiting has a interesting premise,but the storyline falls a bit flat because it is a slow read throughout the book. The conversations through the meals is a bit unrealistic and boring.
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I received this pre-publication e-book from Severn House via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I wanted to like this, I really did. I love historical fiction, and Paul Doherty has certainly written a lot of it – I was looking forward to discovering a new author and a rich vein of books to work my way through. I even – and here’s how much I committed to this – bought the first book in this series, Dark Queen Rising, from Audible so I could listen to it in the car and give myself a head start on this one.

And to be fair, I did enjoy DQR – the storytelling style suits being read aloud, I think. This one, however, not so much. I found it slow and hard going, with pages and pages of interminable exposition, characters repeating facts and theories to each other just in case we (the readers) missed them the first (second, third, fourth) time, a villain who was largely absent from the action but referred to all the time (“your father, Sir Thomas Urswicke, the Recorder of London” – seriously, I think he probably know who his father is), and a level of detail and description that smacked of exhaustive historical research but in fact distracted from the important points of the story. It also left the characters feeling rather like cardboard cutouts, because we had much less access to what was going on inside their heads than what was going on around them. 

Margaret Beaufort, the eponymous Dark Queen and the mother of the Tudor dynasty which rose from the ashes of the Wars of the Roses, is a fascinating figure, but in this book she is sidelined rather. She does appear, and discusses plots and plans with her henchmen (far too much use of this word, by the way), but all in rather vague terms and without much actual action; she was much more visible and active as a character in the first book in this series, and I missed her in this one.

The best section was the description of the battle between three ships off Walton on the Naze – this was well done, but even here the character at the heart of the action, Sir Reginald Bray, felt oddly emotionally displaced from the events. He did this, he did that, then this happened, but all apparently without much emotion or reaction – fear, panic, anger, SOMETHING.

The murder plot at the heart of the story did twist at the end, and did reach a satisfactory conclusion, but I’m afraid I had lost interest by that stage. All in all – less historical detail needed, more passion and more action.
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1471. Edward IV is King of England, with the Lancaster fraction vanquished. But Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry Tudor, and the Lancasterian hope continues to plot. But as one by one her loyal men are killed, she with Reginald Bray and Christopher Urswicke believe that there is a traitor in their midst.
Overall I enjoyed the story, which could have been improved with less description of the various surroundings, and repetition of retelling of events which slowed the pace of the story.
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Having been a fan of the previous books by the Author in this series I was looking forward to reading this latest offering .
However this book was not of the same standard as those previously - much of the book revolves around meal time discussions , a character ( recently experiencing 2 murder attempts on his life ) managing to notice sparrows , listen to a story teller - would he not be fully aware of his surroundings , full of adrenalin ? a contradiction perhaps ?
The character of Christopher Urswicke  - "the founder of the British Secret Service". should perhaps have been introduced earlier in the book - it would have given the book much more pace and interest . That being said I find the Politics of the time between the Houses of York and Lancaster and Margaret Beaufort 's place in the scheme of things interesting . 
If the writer continuous with this series I will be very happy to read whatever he produces with the note that I hope the next book would flow faster , with more interesting characters .

I was given an ARC of this book by Netgalley and the Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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I was given a free advance copy of this manuscript in exchange for writing an impartial review. (Scheduled Publication: 2/4/20) As a devotee of all kinds of historical fiction, as someone who has a particular passion for English history, and as someone who thinks Margaret Beaufort (mother to King Henry VII) is one of most fascinating and shrewd women in English history -- you can imagine how much I was looking forward to this book. And how much I wanted to enjoy it. Alas, it was not to be. 

This VERY prolific author (of no less than 100 historical novels) has created a wildly convoluted mystery based around the rivalry and deception so central to the Wars of the Roses. So, let me begin by setting the scene. 

King Edward IV, of the House of York, sits on the throne. But Lady Margaret Beaufort (mother of the rival House of Lancaster's surviving heir) still hopes to see HER son on the throne. Around her are a loyal band of retainers - Reginald Bray (real historical figure), Christopher Urswicke (real), and Gareth Morgan (fictional as best I can tell). That all sounds promising enough. 

Unfortunately, despite the book's title, Margaret Beaufort is more of a secondary character. Primarily a figurehead that attracts either loyal Lancaster followers or is the focal point of York hatred. Most of the action of the novel involves men, brutal murders, some torture, and the relationship between a father and son who are on opposite sides of the York-Lancaster rivalry. 

But aside from feeling misled by the book's title, and turned off by the blasé violence, my chief criticisms are two-fold:

PROBLEM ONE. The story is slow partly because it is so over-burdened by the kind of description authors often insert when they have done TOO much research and feel the need to include everything. 

Here, by way of example, Reginald Bray is being followed in a market:

"Bray moved purposefully. He fully acknowledged he was being followed, if not by some hooded figure then by one or two of the flocks of street sparrows who darted along the narrow gaps between the many stalls. Bray felt an acute sense of danger. He recalled the two murderous assaults on him and wondered if these were all part of a well-laid plot to dig up and destroy the very roots of all those who supported Countess Margaret and her exiled son. Bray then wondered how his mistress and Urswicke were faring. As he crossed Cheapside, Bray glimpsed a finely carved statue of Our Lady of Walsingham standing on its plinth. He murmured a swift prayer to the 'Fragrantly beautiful Queen of Heaven' for the safety of the countess and those who served her. Now and again Bray would pause, as if to buy from a stall or listen to a storyteller fresh from Outremer chanting a tale about a strange creature which had the head of a hare, the neck of an ox, the winds of a dragon, the feel of a camel and so on. On this occasion Bray glanced around and caught two men at a nearby stall; they were studying him closely then quickly looked away." 

Really? While he's being followed, he considers street sparrows, Margaret Beaufort, Urswicke, a statue, and listens to a storyteller? After two attempts on his life, wasn't the adrenaline helping him focus exclusively on who might be following him? Or, perhaps I am being uncharitable and he actually was a victim of a Medieval case of ADHD.

PROBLEM TWO. Way too much of the plot is explained by characters sitting around a meal together. Long, and frankly unrealistic monologues that make sure every aspect of the relevant history of the Wars of the Roses is covered. Including an exceptionally long-winded final scene where Margaret Beaufort and her friends confront a traitor and painstakingly review all the evidence of his guilt. Assuming, I can only guess, that the reader needs to have everything explained in order to successfully tie up the mystery. Instead, it felt more like an Agatha Christie mystery where the reader can't possibly solve it alone and needs Miss Marple to point out unimportant but key details that the author forces readers to overlook.

Okay, I think you get the idea. If you are interested in the still-remarkable historical figure of Margaret Beaufort, there are better historical novels around than this one.
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Fascinating to see Margaret Beaufort as a central, and sympathetic, character. A vicious and bloody period of history, and if you were important, your life might not be a long one. Margaret was a survivor!
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Historical mystery fiction set in the time of the wars of the Roses. This time, from the POV of Margaret Beaufort, mother of the future Henry VII - which makes a nice change.

However, this story was slow going and again characters pop in who you are never too sure are there simply to fill the page or are actually relevant to the story. Another annoying thing is the repetition of story-telling, first by one character and then another all in the space of a few pages.

I lost interest to be quite honest, and skipped through to the end - where I finally found something of interest - the character of Christopher Urswicke - or as Doherty calls him - "the founder of the British Secret Service". Now had that been at the start .......

The second start is because of this last remark which has sent me off on the trail of Urwicke.
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This book like all from this author was a great mystery. Somewhat predictable in places, but fun non the less.
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October 1471, and Edward of York sits on the throne of England, flanked by his brothers, Clarence and Richard. Meanwhile Margaret Beaufort sits at court, plotting for the day that her son, Henry Tudor, can return to England to claim the throne for her family once again. But plans are afoot at court to stop Margaret’s plans ever coming to fruition.
A group of her followers, former Welsh students, are scattered across London, protected by the sanctuary of various troops. But when one of them is brutally murdered – inside a church locked and bolted from the inside – they are gathered and, in the tradition of those seeking sanctuary, made to walk to the coast and then take a boat overseas. But with a devilish murderer stalking the party and death waiting in the form of two warships if they even get to the boat, it falls to Margaret’s closest ally and son of her most persistent foe, Christopher Urswicke to find a way to save Margaret and her allies.
This is the second book, following Dark Queen Rising, in Paul’s latest series of historical mysteries. Those who read the first one will recall that it was more of an historical thriller rather than a mystery – the murder occurs quite late in the day in that one – but this one is much closer to Paul’s more traditional structure, with a locked room murder front and centre at the beginning of the tale. The narrative is still more steeped in historical espionage and plotting than in his other series, and there are many twists and turns along the way. There are quite a few threads that don’t play out the way the reader might expect them to – the fate of one particular character sticks in the mind – and there is a distinct feeling that things might not turn out that well for the leads. I suppose that’s one of the problems of using real characters – we know Henry Tudor will take the throne after Bosworth Field, but we are far enough away from that event that I, certainly have little idea of the twists and turns along the way.
The mystery itself is good and well-structured, but the killer is quite guessable – except that I didn’t, as Paul’s efforts with the conspiracy elements formed a spell-binding distraction.
Probably not the purest mystery that Paul has ever written, but an extremely satisfying book nonetheless, the espionage element and plotting on both sides creating a riveting read. Dark Queen Waiting is out at the end of the month from Severn House, and the preceding title, Dark Queen Rising came out in August from Black Thorn Books.
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