Though I adore Queen Elizabeth I, my heart has always been drawn to her cousin and nemesis, Mary, Queen of Scots, perhaps because Mary let her heart lead the way and Elizabeth was always ruled by her head. From her childhood in the French court with Catherine de Medici, through her marriages, passionate loves, intrigues, use as a royal pawn, imprisonment and tragic death, Mary was a remarkable woman whose flaws and love of life make her all the more human.

Reay Tannahill portrays a womans life as seen through not only her own eyes, but through the eyes of those who knew her, loved her or used her for their own selfish gain.

At 18, Mary returns to her cold and backwards birthplace after years in the cultured French court. She is at once drawn into ambitious intrigues and tangled webs of power plays as her brother, James, realizes he can use her youth and beauty to further his own place in the politics of the day.

All the men in her life see Mary as a woman to be manipulated for their own ends. And her cousin Elizabeth fears Mary will be a threat to her crown and perhaps even to her life.

Still Mary loves and is loved by many men and her subjects. And, in the end it is her son, James, who inherits the English throne, bringing England and Scotland together. So perhaps this remarkable woman who endures imprisonment and death is triumphant in the end.

Reay Tannahill breathes new life and puts her own personal slant into Marys unique life. Readers are given a close and human view of everyone who surrounded the young queen and will finish FATAL MAJESTY with a better understanding of the woman, the era and mankind. (Jan., 480 pp., $25.95)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin