(I received this book for free as part of Goodreads First Reads giveaways).
(This review may contain spoilers).
I don’t tend to go in for historical books that much, but I thought that this one sounded particularly intriguing. I’ve seen a lot of fiction books about royal historical figures after they became Kings and Queens… but not too many about a monarch before they ruled.
Chess is probably one of my favourite games. I’ve enjoyed playing it for as long as I can remember and I have a couple of different chess collections, including the Marvel chess collection. So it was interesting to find a book where there was a chess tournament set in Tudor times and one where players from all over the world were called.
I found it interesting to see that this book was written from Elizabeth’s point of view and to see the elements of the Queen she would become, while having her as a child who was still trying to do the right thing. I especially found her relationship with Elsie to be quite an interesting one, such as Elsie’s attempts to manipulate Elizabeth into coming with her when she wanted to go and visit the Crown Prince, for instance.
The murder mystery aspect of this book was particularly intriguing. There were some especially gruesome aspects to this book that made me cringe to read them. I also found it interesting how the pieces in chess mirrored the characters in the book, made more obvious by the snippets of information about the history of chess at various points in the book.
I was a bit surprised that Elizabeth’s attitude didn’t change towards Elsie, considering that sex outside of marriage (particularly for women) was frowned upon in those times. I did feel a bit sorry for Elsie by the end of the book, but I didn’t particularly like the way she was for a lot of it – more because of how she was with Elizabeth and the others than anything else.
I found it interesting to read about the politics in this book and how the Sultan tried to manipulate the tournament to his advantage. There were some quite awful things in the book, but throughout history (and nowadays), humans have done pretty awful things to each other.
I felt that Elizabeth came across as strong and an intriguing person, even at the age she was in this book. Since I enjoyed reading this, I would probably read other books by this author in the future.