A Dangerous Inheritance by Alison Weir


War of the Roses & Tudor period – 15th & 16th century England

Historical Fiction/Biography

Heat Level: 1


The year is 1562. Lady Catherine Grey, cousin of Elizabeth I, has just been arrested along with her husband Edward. Their crime is to have secretly married and produced a child who might threaten the Queen’s title.
Alone in her chamber at the Tower of London, Catherine hears ghostly voices, echoes, she thinks, of a crime committed in the same room where she is imprisoned.
The story flashes back to 1483 and another Catherine – Kate Plantaganet, bastard daughter of Richard III. She has heard terrible rumours of the death of the young deposed Edward V and his brother (the Princes in the Tower) but loyalty to her father prevents her believing them. After his death at Bosworth, she is viewed with suspicion by Henry VII’s court, even more so when she becomes pregnant.
Catherine, too, is pregnant, a friendly warder having sneaked Edward into her room. She finds documents relating to Kate’s life and gets swept up both in Kate’s story and the mystery of the Princes, which she realises Kate never solved…

Review by LadyOfMisrule

A Dangerous Inheritance is a novel which utilises the tried and tested formula of using existing but oft-disregarded historical figures as a prism through which to view history from a different angle. In this case the players are Katherine Grey, Lady Jane Grey’s younger sister, and Catherine Plantagenet (known as Kate), the illegitimate daughter of King Richard III. Kate’s story begins in 1483, with the death of King Edward IV, and the subsequent tussle for the crown between the factors of Edward’s legitimate heirs and Richard himself. Katherine’s story begins in a similar vein, with the death of Edward VI and the attempt to crown lady Jane Grey.

The story threads its way through two very tumultuous periods of English history, and these parallel stories are intertwined splendidly by Weir. The thread that binds these two timelines together is the mystery of the princes in the tower, Kate puzzling over it as it happens and Katherine trying to piece together the truth years later. The two headstrong and somewhat impetuous young women tread their dangerous steps only a whisper away from the throne. Both are very stubborn and unbending in their beliefs – Kate that her beloved father is a good and honest man, and Katherine that she should be declared next in line to the throne – and yet they attempt to be politic in expressing them.

The character development is managed well by Weir. The girls both begin as young, unassuming girls and mature into intelligent, passionate young women. Kate falls in love with her cousin John de la Pole, but as the King’s daughter she is not destined to choose her own husband. Whilst an innocent young fool, Katherine is married to Henry Herbert, heir to Pembrooke. Politics interfere in this match and years later she learns to love her beloved ‘Ned’. Similarly to Kate, however, her high birth and proximity to the throne prevent her from following her heart, and it seems they are fated to be star-crossed lovers.

Although the heroines of the story are flawed characters, they are nonetheless endearing, and it is difficult not to feel strongly about the injustices both women are subject to by dint of their very birth. Unlike many such lead characters in books of this genre, neither Kate nor Katherine are slaves to ambition. The impression that Weir gives of Katherine is that she thinks is would be ‘very fine’ to be Queen of England, but that she would sacrifice all claim to the throne in an instant if she were but allowed to live, love and be happy. Their questionable, potentially treasonous activities are done for love, not for ruthless ambition and for this I can readily forgive them.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this latest offering from Weir. The ending I thought was a little weak but from the afterword I can tell Weir stayed as true to the facts known as possible, and so, if a little unsatisfying, this makes sense. Overall the book was an excellent read, the parallel timeline device was well-used and I enjoyed learning about Katherine and Kate, two women which I had previously had little to no knowledge of. Highly recommended.


Hi, I’m Bek , a twentysomething bookworm, but I prefer to call myself a member of the Literati. I have been a big fan of Historical fiction for almost a decade. I am a proud Yorkshire rose, and my interest for history was initially sparked by the War of the Roses, but has from this seed bloomed into a full on passion! I am a person who is never satisfied unless they are learning, or working towards something. Books set in a historical setting help me to scratch that itch, and my lengthy commute to work and back every day means that I often get through them at a good pace! I’m also a sucker for a good, tasteful love story 🙂


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