Legacy by Susan Kay


The much-praised Legacy offers an exquisite psychological portrait of the Queen who defined an era, beloved and touted by readers for its stunning storytelling and intriguing take on the monarch's life. From the spectacular era that bears her name comes the mesmerizing story of Elizabeth I: her tragic childhood; her ruthless confrontations with Mary, Queen of Scots; and her brilliant reign as Europe's most celebrated queen. And into this beautifu...

Details Legacy

Release DateApr 28th, 1987
PublisherAvon Books
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, European Literature, British Literature, English History, Tudor Period

Reviews Legacy

  • Marita
    4.5 starsIs there any better novel of Queen Elizabeth I? Originally published in 1985, this novel is probably still one of the very best works of fiction written about the illustrious virgin queen (?) who reigned for 45 years. Mostly based on historical fact, there are some embellishments as the author explores Elizabeth’s close relationships.Elizabeth is portrayed as being multi-faceted, brilliant as a diamond. She sparkles. She was of course ...
  • Misfit
    I'd give it 10 stars if I could!! AWESOME! An absolutely brilliant portrayal of Elizabeth I. The only thing I've ever seen come close to capturing Elizabeth so clearly and brilliantly is the old Masterpiece Theatre series on PBS done back in 70's or 80's with Glenda Jackson. All the charaterizations in the book are incredibly well drawn and detailed, particulary Elizabeth, Dudley and Cecil. The author also has a wonderful way of describing the ti...
  • Kay
    This book is the reason why I buy almost all of my books rather than borrowing from friends or the library. I first read this book when I was in middle school. I borrowed it from the library, lost myself in the dangerous and glittering world of court intrigue and politics, and read it in a little over two sittings. It also happened to be that this was one of the last books I read before we moved to a different state. In that hectic time, I return...
  • Orsolya
    Who doesn’t know about Elizabeth Tudor? Whether it is for her famous mother, her pirate conquests, or her many (supposed) lovers; the Virgin Queen has titillated for centuries. Susan Kay’s “Legacy” attempts to present Elizabeth from the eyes of men in her life, both romantic and political.Susan Kay’s “Legacy” felt like two separate books (which could be argued as a lack of cohesive tact). The early chapters were much too disjointed ...
  • Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
    Actual rating 4.5 stars.Well-written historical novel about Elizabeth I (why did Susan Kay write only two novels?), with some paranormal undertones.
  • Rio (Lynne)
    3.75 Stars. The author didn't make Elizabeth out to be the perfect heroine, like most HF authors do today, which was a positive. The story is seen through the eyes of the men in her life, letting you see all sides of Elizabeth. I simply didn't get attached to the characters or even Elizabeth (which I usually do) so I wasn't emotionally attached to this read. I am very familiar with Elizabeth's reign, so even though parts of this book didn't flow,...
  • Marquise
    This novel had, even before I finished reading it, the requirements for having a place in my favourite books. Now that I’ve finished, I’m glad to confirm that it is firmly placed in such a place.I don’t know if I’ll ever read any other novel set in this time period, but in any case I have this feeling that Legacy has forever altered my expectation of Tudor historical novels—that is to say, has ruined me forever for any other such novel...
  • Barb
    This is an amazing masterpiece of historical fiction. The dust jacket on my copy says that Susan Kay worked on this novel for fifteen years. I can say it honestly felt like she did. The history is comprehensive, the characterizations of the historical figures are vivid and realistic, the insight and motivations Kay offers for them are interesting and each character is realistic, three dimensional and matures over time. This is not a quick and bre...
  • Moppet
    Legacy, for me, was historical fiction gold: a book I loved as a teenager which was just as wonderful second time around. It's a cradle-to-grave retelling of the life of Elizabeth I, and it's 647 pages of class.The prologue introduces Elizabeth as a troubled young princess, imprisoned in the Tower of London by her sister Mary and facing possible execution as a traitor:She sat on a low stone window-seat, wrapped in a cloak against the creeping col...
  • The Just-About-Cocky Ms M
    I have no idea where the unfortunate appendage to this book's title came from, but I managed to ignore it. Anything billed as "most" anything gives me the hives, and I immediately want to prove it is the "least."I don't care much for Elizabeth I. Perhaps my disregard comes from a long dislike of the entire Tudor dynasty, and helped along by a lot of bad movies and even worse books.And then this book, heavy and uncomfortable to hold in my arthriti...
  • Rebecca Huston
    A book that I was very happy to see come back into print last year. Smart, well-written account of Queen Elizabeth I from the cradle to the grave, and the various personalities, plots and achievements in her life. I think this one is my favourite of all the various fictional accounts of Elizabeth, both because of the dialog, which is very believable, the characters, whom the author does not short, and Elizabeth herself, depicted with her jealousy...
  • Iset
    Coming into this book, I’d yet to read a definitive novel of Elizabeth’s life, something which seemed a bit of a mystery, as Elizabeth is one of the most well known figures of history. Having read Margaret George’s Elizabeth last year, I was impressed with the quality of writing and the vivid detail in which Elizabeth and her times were rendered, but I couldn’t help feeling a tiny bit disappointed that the novel only covered the autumn an...
  • Lynn
    Wow, what a book! For me this book did a remarkable job of telling the story of Queen Elizabeth's life, it was well written, intriguing and the author kept the story moving. This book is broken down into five different areas of Elizabeth's life, The Girl, The Woman, The Queen, The Goddess and The Effigy. What I took away from reading this book was: how strong and intelligent Elizabeth was, she spoke six different languages and was more intelligen...
  • Gaile
    Very early in life the axe hung over the head of this young girl. It was enough to give her nightmares, cause physical illnesses and forever associate being under a man's control with death.Elizabeth wanted either war or executions. Once she secured the crown after surviving her sister's Mary's reign by the skin of her teeth, Elizabeth put the welfare of her subjects first. Like a mother, she was willing to lie, cheat and even execute (something ...
  • Marilyn
    This is an excellent novel by Susan Kay depicting the life of Elizabeth from early childhood, with a precarious struggle through adolescence, her sister Mary's suspicions of disloyalty, her imprisonment in the Tower through Traitor's Gate from which few, very few ever emerged from alive until finally, she reaches, against all odds, the throne of England. It's a story of survival and the emotional effects of dealing with three men that figure prom...
  • Christy English
    I had the pleasure of reading this novel when it came out in the 80's, and the book has stood the test of time. A beautiful novel, and a beautiful portrait of Elizabeth I. This novel is the definitive version of Elizabeth for me.
  • Chrisl
    My favorite of the Elizabeth era. Another to reread.8/27/2017 - starting another re-read : Some quotes from the prologue :"He was only a small rat, but bolder than most, with a disproportionately long tail which curled behind him on the stone floor, losing itself in the half-gloom of a solitary candle's light."The crumbs of bread and stale marchpane, which had first tempted him out into danger, were long since finished. But still he sat there fur...
  • Sherry H
    This book explores the life of Elizabeth I, focusing, according to the summary, on her relationships with three key men in her life (Thomas Seymour, Robert Dudley, William Cecil). Or was it Dudley, Cecil and Essex? Or was it Phillip of Spain, Dudley and James of Scotland? Let's just say that there were more than "three men whose destinies belonged to her alone."The first third of the book, about her childhood and ascension to the throne, were ver...
  • Alicia
    Well-researched, very engaging look at Elizabeth I. The author took 10 years to write it and yet somehow resisted the urge to drown the reader in detailed descriptions of the era. Something I've no doubt I could not have resisted, & actually wished for more of. However, she does a remarkable job of creating a psychological portrait of Elizabeth, reconstructing pivotal events through the viewpoints of the 3 principals she focuses on: E., Robert Du...
  • Xenia0201
    Outstanding. This is probably the most intelligently written novel I've read of Elizabeth I. Meticulously researched, Kay's character version of Elizabeth is nothing short of a psychological analysis. Kay adds her own fictional elements to further allow the reader a deep dive into Elizabeth's soul, giving an imagined makeup of her persona. The Elizabeth we see in this novel is a cunning survivor, forever depending on her fierce intellect to remai...
  • Anna
    Rating: 3.5 stars Review to follow.Buddy read with Jemidar, Rio, Orsolya, Tom, Lynn and Jackleen :-)
  • Laura
    The best book on Elizabeth`s story, highly recommended to everyone. The best book on Elizabeth`s story, highly recommended to everyone.
  • S.J. Kincaid
    It happened in seventh grade. I picked this book up and started reading. The first sentence was, "He was a small rat, but bolder than most, with a disproportionately long tail which curled behind him on the stone floor, losing itself in the half-gloom of a solitary candle's light." The prologue of the book went onto to focus upon the girl, Elizabeth Tudor, who is sitting in the Tower of London, waiting for the moment her sister, the queen, signs ...
  • Gail Amendt
    Although I have read a lot about the Tudors, most of it has been about Henry VIII and his many wives, and I have never read a book about his daughter, Elizabeth I. I knew that I wanted to read a really good book about this great queen, not just any book about her, and with all the good reviews of this novel, I thought I had found that really good book. Unfortunately this book left me feeling somewhat disappointed. It's not that it was a poorly re...
  • Annette
    Source: Self-purchase.Rating: 5 stars for excellent.Summary:Legacy is a historical fiction account of the life of Elizabeth I. From the beginnings of her parents relationship and her mother's execution, to Elizabeth's dismal childhood, and to her coronation and reign as Elizabeth I.Legacy's intention is to portray a dimensional Elizabeth. A strong-willed and defiant personality, a passionate person, a desire to love and be loved, shrewd and resil...
  • Elizabeth
    Highly recommended life of Elizabeth, far better than most historical fiction. I've had my copy for years and have read it countless times. It's well-researched and weaves some intriguing ideas into the story of Elizabeth's life and reign. For example, it suggests that Elizabeth deliberately put the catastrophic Darnley onto Mary's path, confident she'd fall for him and that he would prove enough of a problem to prevent Mary having time to covet ...
  • Mariele
    The book helped me to understand some of the very complicated political, personal, and genealogical networks that Elizabeth I was caught up in. But I would have needed more year dates, and I still had to look up some facts that were not evident enough in the story. This book was interesting enough, but one aspect that I strongly reject was that the degree of fictitious content was not made clear. And I don't mean dialogues or episodes concerning ...
  • Sharon
    When you know that this book was 15 years in the making, it comes as no surprise that author Susan Kay's meticulous research paid off.Kay presents the mercurial Elizabeth I, starting with the day of her mother's execution and ending with her death. The queen was politically shrewd, as we know from history books, but Kay presents a woman terrified of marriage because of her mother's (and stepmothers') deaths at the hands of her father -- and yet o...
  • Emma
    Decent--well, all in all probably the best novel of Elizabeth I've ever read, which is not precisely a ringing endorsement--but oh, man, it felt miles too long. And the dynamic between Bess and Leicester was a bit off. Splendid in bits and pieces, and Lord knows I teared up at the epilogue (shut up, they've always made me sentimental), but the rapeyness was foul and unnecessary and I have no idea what possessed Kay to go there. Still gets three s...
  • Rachel
    I read this because it has been my best friend's favorite book for as long as I can recall. I am a fan of Susan Kay's. I read Phantom years and years ago and was in love with the detail and thought put into it. This book is no less detailed and thoughtful. I am impressed with her way of taking several points of view and weaving them seamlessly together into a single narrative that is so fully fleshed out, I am unable to think of a single thing le...