Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Legacy: The Acclaimed Novel of Elizabeth, England's Most Passionate Queen -- and the Three Men Who Loved Her by Susan Kay
We are such stuff as dreams are made on and our little life is rounded with a sleep -- Skakespeare, The Tempest
Within the labyrinth she walked slowly down the corridor, knowing it to be the longest and the last. She had conquered and no fear informed her stately progress now, only idle curiousity to see what waited at the end of this journey inwards. When she found the door she was not unduly surprised; and since she had nothing better to do, and there was no one here to do it for her--as there had been as far back as she remembered--she chose to open that door herself. The door gave out on to an unfathomable expanse of darkness, cold, empty, remarkably uninviting, it made her hesitate and look back down the endless passage, a narrow tunnel that ended in a bright pin-prick of light--the world she was about to leave.
"It will go on without you, you know."
She whirled round, wild with hope, "Robin!"
"You were expecting perhaps the Devil in person?"
His voice was exactly as she remembered it, amused, cynical, slightly peevish. She laughed a little shakily and took an uncertain step towards the darkness.
"I don't know what I was expecting. What place is this?"
"Oh, this is no-where. The boundary between our two worlds."
"Then--then I'm not dead."
"No, you're not dead." The voice paused, sighed, seemed to consider.
"You may return even now if you wish. Or you may come with me. But if you go back now, I shall not wait for you again."
She took another step towards the engulfing abyss and stretched out desperate hands.
"But I can't see you!" she cried. "How do I know this isn't a dream, or some trick of the Devil's? How do I know you are really there?"
"You don't know," he said quietly. "That is the final test of your love, you see--to take me on trust in death, as you never did in life."
For a moment she was silent."
What must I do to reach you?" she asked at last.
"You must step off the edge," he said.
Instinctively she recoiled from the prospect and drew back from the emptiness.
"Will you not do that for me, even now?" he asked sadly. "Are you still afraid to fall?"
She smiled and flung up her head with pride.
"I'm not afraid of anything--in this world or the next."
"I don't believe you," he said with soft challenge. "Prove it to me."
She walked alone into the void. The corridor was gone and the light at the end of it; the darkness around her was absolute. She mastered a scream and held out one hand.
"I am here."
Joyfully, triumphantly, he took her hand and pulled her forward into infinity.
Have you sufficiently recovered yet? The Epilogue provides you with just a taste of the love and lifelong relationship between Elizabeth Tudor and Robert Dudley. However, that is just one aspect of this beautifully written, touching, emotionally charged novel. Bringing to life Elizabeth Tudor born a princess, became a bastard, part abandoned toddler, part little girl lost, part heartbroken princess, part desirable woman but always Gloriana! Playing the part of The Virgin Queen til the end not wanting to disappoint her loyal subjects, the people who loved her most and the country in which she ruled!
Yes, 'Legacy' is the birth to death retelling of one of the most enigmatic rulers England or the world has ever seen! What people forget is that Elizabeth Tudor was very much a human being, flesh and bone, heart, spirit, and soul! That is what I have been searching for these many years. An author, who would not only bravely attempt to fictionalize a life such as hers historically and accurately but not forget the motherless child who had no choice but to rule a kingdom fate saw to that upon the death of her half-sister Mary Tudor (Bloody Mary).
Susan Kay weaves together three instrumental men guiding her course through life with dedication, loyalty, trust, and adoration. Elizabeth’s lover, Robert Dudley, and her chief minister, William Cecil who many times put his loyalty to his queen above his own wife. Lastly, Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, and son of Lettice Knollys (rival of Elizabeth I) who kept her going after Dudley's death until his foolish pride intervened and she put him to death!
This is the difference between Legacy and the myriad of other novels of Elizabeth I. For me, Susan Kay stays with the main players in Elizabeth Tudors's life: her parents, her nanny's, her tutors, Robert Dudley and her loyal men of the privy council. Susan Kay does not include any other historical figures except for the ones necessary to the plot. Otherwise, you are awash with confusion and the plot drags and the reader loses interest.
This novel is a winner for any Tudor history lover. Over six hundred pages long, you are never bored just left with a desire to read on. It took the author fifteen years to write this novel, it won two literary awards upon being published in the early nineteen eighties. Republished last year I urge anyone to pick it up and get lost in Elizabethan England!
Please feel free to leave any questions or comments!
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