Mary, Queen of Scots

by John Hale

Read this in about 5 minutes
After the long awaited death of Mary Tudor or “Bloody Mary” as the subjects knew her, Elizabeth ascended to power. Much to her people’s loathsome attitude towards her, Elizabeth triumphed as a queen who would finally succeed the Tudor dynasty. All other monarchs during her time were forgotten due to her lineage and her rule, full of scandal but one. Mary of Scots, after losing her husband, the king of France, left France to come back and rule over Scotland. And why not. It was her right, by birth. But a long time had passed since she first set foot on the Scottish soil. The subjects seemed to have forgotten her. Here she built her kingdom piece by piece. Surviving all the scandals and her Cousin Queen Elizabeth’s notorious plans, Mary finally rules of Scotland. 
This tale is of Mary, Queen of Scotland. She is much overshadowed by the cousin, Queen Elizabeth. This book enlivens her again in flesh and blood. A tale which we ought not to forget. Was Mary a woman or a monarch?
Elizabeth said sharply, “Do you rejoice at the prospect of the death of a Queen?”
“She is a Papist and an enemy of England.”
“Papist or not, enemy or not, she is a Queen.”
“But your grace, it is you who wished her destroyed.”
“Cast down, but not dead,” said Elizabeth at once. “Her army destroyed, but her life spared. I do not relish the thought of the death of any Queen. It is too close to our person.”

Cover page

The cover page is an interesting composition. But not very different from other books in the genre. It consists of the queen face and some golden tassels here and there. The title comes at the bottom with the black background. The cover page has been kept simple and classy. The author has not taken any risks of deviating from the norms. Hence, it fails to make a lasting impression. 

Characters

The book, as the title suggests, is about the Queen Mary, of Scotland. It captures her during the most troublesome times of her life. Therefore, at every page flipped, a vulnerable woman rather than a strong Queen, is seen. There was always struggle between her heart and her head, and every time her heart won. It was sad, seeing a Queen of such an honor to be diminished to someone like that. The author chose to show the weaker side of her. There was also nothing kings-like in John’s description of Mary. It might as well be another woman who has been wronged. The characterization feels one-dimensional.

Queen Elizabeth, on the other hand, has been portrayed as a woman who detests the subjects who participate in treason. This quality, she seems to have been inherited from her father. She is also a jealous woman who understands her position in the court. Other than these, there is not much about the queen who is so much talked about.

Lord Darnley, the second husband of the queen, is just described as a drunk fool who would never hesitate to put himself in trouble. There is more to these characters than described in the book.

It is an independent decision of an author to choose to show only one side of the characters, but in this case, it may not go down well with the fans of the genre. There is no point in reading about a royal life when there is no royalty in the characters. 

Content

Mary loses her husband while she is in France. Seeing her position wavering, she decides to come back to Scotland where she is expected to rule. Only to discover that it is not very easy. The kingdom needs to be tamed. Elizabeth, on the other hand, sees her as trouble and conspires to overthrow her demeaning herself in the process. 

The book is the tale on Queen of Scots from the time she ascends to the throne till she dies at the scaffold in the tower of London. It is filled with the conspiracy theories and the murderous epidemic that washes the land during Queen Mary’s rein. 
“If this horse had a name it would go down in history, but as I stole it some hours ago in Edinburgh it will not be remembered.” 

Language

The narration is filled with suspense and pity. It is a fast paced story of descend of the Queen of Scots. The language definitely needs some polishing, but it definitely puts the author in the lineage of authors like Jean Plaidy and Emily Purdy. 

Good points

The book is a fast-paced historical fiction. It speaks of the sequence of events and its results without taking sides. The cover is well composed. A safe approach but appealing. The book tells history without dwelling in unnecessary details. The makes the book a thriller. 
Lady Jean had straightened up and she smiled. Any man worth his salt would have liked to have seen that smile when he woke and turned over. 

Bad points

The characters lack depth. Especially since the characters are royalties, there should be more written about them than it is in the book. 

Overall

The author has a knack for storytelling. This book definitely puts the author on the map. 

Who do I recommend this to

This book is recommended to all the curious readers who are interested in the tales of the royals. Mary of Scots is an interesting personality to be read about. 

Quotable quotes 

Elizabeth standing in the doorway, looked at her ageing lover at the feet of her eternal rival. “Madam”, she said, “If your head matched your heart I would have been the one waiting for death.”
On scaffold she raised her voice triumphantly, “I freely forgive all my enemies and all who have lusted after my blood – for my end is my beginning.”

* I received this book from the publication for review. It has not influenced the review at all.

Veena Choudhary

An avid reader and history fanatic.

Mumbai, MH merakipost.com