The Life of Elizabeth I by Alison Weir

While this book stands on its own, this is best understood as the 4th book in a 4-part series with Alison Weir’s Henry VIII, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, and The Children of Henry VIII. This book picks up with Elizabeth’s ascension to the throne, the previous chapters of her life being intertwined with the events of those books. While this book does stand on its own, a complete picture is far more satisfying to me, and I’d recommend the other books to those interested in Tudor history.

It’s my own personal taste, but while I’ve gained a great appreciation and respect for Elizabeth, I find that her father’s antics are far more entertaining. Having said that, the finale to the Tudor Dynasty brings no shortage of intrigue and grandstanding. As with her previous books, Weir’s writing style brings history to life. The book digs deeper than many basic volumes on the subject, the characters become personal (and sometimes even personable), and Elizabeth herself strides across this volume as she did in life, both decisive and evasive. The book does deal with the politics of the time, as it’s impossible to separate Elizabeth’s personal and political lives, and for those interested in learning of the time of her reign, this book is a great primer. From here, there’s virtually no limit to what to learn next: explorers, privateers, Shakespeare, spy networks… the list goes on.

5 stars

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