Skip to main content
PBS logo
Want fewer ads?

Book Reviews of Innocent Traitor

Innocent Traitor
Innocent Traitor
Author: Alison Weir
ISBN-13: 9780091796624
ISBN-10: 0091796628
Publication Date: 4/6/2006
Pages: 405
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.

4.5 stars, based on 5 ratings
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Book Type: Hardcover
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

30 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

FeliciaJ avatar reviewed Innocent Traitor on + 136 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 9
Acclaimed historian Alison Weir has written a wonderful first novel about the Lady Jane Grey - brilliant, courageous, outspoken, exasperating, dogmatic and determined - and the cruel times in which she lived.

In another era, Jane Grey might have become a renowned scholar or religious leader. But in Tudor times, her royal blood and scheming parents led to her execution at age 16 for treason. Weir tells the story of Jane's life in the first person, rotating between a collection of narrators including Jane, her mother Frances, the Lady Mary Tudor, Queen Katherine Parr and John Dudley, the power-hungry Duke of Northumberland.

Deftly weaving actual events and the words of historical figures into her narrative, Weir tells an enthralling, tragic story that had me glued to the book for hours. I expect this novel to be one of my favorite reads of 2007.
TXGrobanite avatar reviewed Innocent Traitor on + 270 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
This is an excellent book if you are wanting to learn more about Lady Jane Grey. Learned a lot of different things that I didn't know and i've read a lot of books about The Tudors. Very hard to put down-highly recommended!
StacyFreeElf avatar reviewed Innocent Traitor on
Helpful Score: 5
This is a MUST read. It tells the story of Lady Jane Grey from several different people including her. It was very hard to keep from crying at the end. I couldn't put it down.
reviewed Innocent Traitor on + 42 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
This is an excellent work of historial fiction. I couldn't put it down and it is very readable and historically accurate.
paigu avatar reviewed Innocent Traitor on + 120 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Poor Jane. I gasped at the scene where her mother, when offered the chance to be Queen of England, reflects on what an awful, burdensome and dangerous position that would be- so she refuses and offers her daughter instead. Sad.
Otherwise writing style is similar to Philippa Gregory, with less bodice (corset?) ripping. I am interested to read some of Weir's non-fiction.
dolleygurl avatar reviewed Innocent Traitor on + 32 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Genre: Historical Fiction

This was my first book by Alison Weir and I enjoyed it a lot. As a historian, Weir brings much to the fiction table in this book. She is able to integrate a lot of intricate historical details into the overall story. When historical details are in question, Weir chooses the most believable route to follow creating a vastly interesting historical adventure.

The focus of this book is the Lady Jane Grey and her rise to the throne of England and subsequent downfall 9 days later. Her story is told from just before her birth and the life of her mother and father. She is a smart girl and lives a rather quiet life at her home of Bradgate Hall. Her mother is not the warmest person and does everything she can to advance the family in the hierarchal structure of English society. Her greatest ambition is to bring Jane to the throne, regardless of the manner or the repercussions.

This story is told through the voice of many different narrators; at last count I think there was 8, but it could be a few more than that. I am on the fence as to whether this many narrators are effective or not. Each of these people brings a different perspective of the events of the day to the table. At the same time it can sometimes get confusing as to exactly who these people are and what their purpose is. Some of the narrators appear frequently (Jane and her mother) and some only appear once (Jane Seymour). I have read other books where multiple narrators are employed (The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory) but the number has been limited to a few. I think this was more effective because you can really make a connection with the characters and understand their importance.

The character of Jane Grey is exceptionally well written. I had no previous experience with the story of Jane Grey and I have to say that I learned a lot. There were times that my heartstrings were pulled. The author really knows how to create an emotional scene.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the reign of Lady Jane Grey as well as politics of the time period.

4.5 out of 5 stars!
mayqueene avatar reviewed Innocent Traitor on
Helpful Score: 2
Brilliant! I really enjoyed this book as it gave me a glimpse into a little explored part of Tudor history. It is about the Lady Jane Grey who is a great niece to Henry the 8th and who for 9 to 13 days (depending on when you count historically) ruled England after the death of King Edward (Jane Seymour's son) and before Bloody Mary came to the throne. Fascinating and very readable.
ATraveler avatar reviewed Innocent Traitor on + 193 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I found this story about Queen Jane very interesting. And choose to pick up this book because of the short mention of her in The Queen's Fool by P. Gregory. I knew very little about her or that her reign was as short as it was. The book is written all in first person, jumping from each main character -- the chapters are divided out by the name of who's point of view it is along with the date. It was a good read but not as captivating as I have found some of the other stories of this time frame by other authors (aka Gregory).
reviewed Innocent Traitor on + 25 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
In many of the books I've read, the relationship of Lady Jane to the Princesses Mary and Elizabeth is really not as clear as it is here. There is a real sense in the book of how Jane is only a pawn in the greater scheme of the religious issues of the time, which is truly unfortunate. While fictionalized to some degree, the historical story is well told.
Shervivor avatar reviewed Innocent Traitor on + 97 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Though not the caliber of the usual Alison Weir novel this is still a good read. It delves into the life of the little known Lady Jane Grey who was the Queen of England during a very short period between Edward VI and Queen Mary. As this is a novel I would guess that most of Lady Jane's story is pure speculation since she is not a very well known character in history. Jane's story is a sad one. I enjoyed reading about Jane's struggles as a mere puppet of her parents and the Protestants that wanted to control England.
reviewed Innocent Traitor on + 20 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Could not put this down! I've read AW's nonfiction. This was my first read of fiction. If you like Philippa Gregory, this book is as good as and probably better than PG. The weaving of characters throughout the book was seamless and made for great story telling. A remarkable 16-year old girl.
demiducky25 avatar reviewed Innocent Traitor on + 161 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This is the story of Lady Jane Grey, who became Queen of England at age 15 for a grand total of 9 days (13 according to some sources). She was then removed from power and her cousin, Mary (Bloody Mary as she would later become known as), took the thrown since she had a closer connection to the bloodline and locked her in the Tower of London. We all know what happens next, but what we don't know is how Jane Grey felt about all of this. Alison Weir's novel gives us an inside look into how Jane grew up, how she got into the position that made her Queen for a little while, and what might have been going through the minds of the people around her. The story is told from a different point of view in each chapter (her own POV of course, her nurse Mrs. Ellen, her domineering mother, her cousins Mary and Elizabeth, etc).

Although certain aspects of this novel are speculation (we'll never know for certain what everyone involved was thinking), it does seem well researched and does make logical sense as to the motives of various people associated with putting Lady Jane on the throne (and those who took her off the throne). I felt it was very well-written, kept moving at a quick pace, and has sparked my interest in learning more about Jane Grey. My one concern with this book is that Jane's POV from her younger years is written at an adult level (using words that a three year old could never use). Weir mentions this at the end and says that part of it is to illustrate how intelligent Jane was and partly to show how children were treated like miniature adults, but it did bother me. But this issue aside, I really did enjoy this book!
reviewed Innocent Traitor on
Helpful Score: 1
Excellent book from a historian. Good prose and writing. Some of the characters have similar voices and a historical note at the end would have been appreciated. All in all an excellent story.
reviewed Innocent Traitor on + 6 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This book is a fictionalized yet as accurate as possible portrait of all too short life of Lady Jane Grey. While obviously we can never know exactly what people thought or what was said behind closed doors, Weir fills in the blanks of the historical story with interesting fiction that creates a logical overall story.

The book is written in the present by many narrators which allows the reader to see the story from many points of view, ulimately painting a complete picture from many points of view, humanizing each historical figure and showing what their emotions and motives behind their actions were likely to be. The story is told by Lady Jane Grey herself (the extremely intelligent, headstrong and devout granddaughter of a Princess of England), Jane's mother (proud and ambitious, a cold mother not realizing what her child means to her until it is too late), Mrs. Ellen (Jane's nurse that loved her as a mother should and was with her until the very end), Queen Catherine Parr (Jane's kindly benefactress), Dudley (the ambitious, greedy man who set in motion the events that would come by trying to retain his power), Queen Mary (who struggles with her obligations as a Catholic Queen and her conscience knowing of Jane's youth and innocence), and even the executioner himself.

I also found the historical facts of life that Weir weaves into the narrative interesting, everything from court etiquette and the religious environment, to the small things like the fact that part of the executioners payment was the clothes the executed person was wearing.

Overall a gripping read that had me fighting tears at the end and gave me a new respect for the courage of this 16 year old girl.
kathylapan avatar reviewed Innocent Traitor on + 14 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Great story but the writing is stilted and anachronistic.
crackabook avatar reviewed Innocent Traitor on
Helpful Score: 1
I enjoyed this book for the manor in which the author wrote it as if the reader was reading each persons private journal. The author is a historian and uses her knowledge of the Lady Jane Grey, the time in which this takes place 1537-1553 with grace and accuracy that makes it a pleasure to read. If period novels are your pleasure than do not miss this one.
SierraK avatar reviewed Innocent Traitor on + 191 more book reviews
I really enjoyed this book about Lady Jane Grey. Lady Jane Grey, grand-niece of King Henry VIII, is an outstanding scholar and wants nothing more than to study with her tutor and translate the classics. But her ambitious parents push her into a role where she becomes Queen of England at the age of sixteen, although for only nine days. This story is full of intrigue and plots and is hard to put down. What's even more amazing is that the book is based on the actual history of the time. Highly recommend this.
donnar avatar reviewed Innocent Traitor on + 22 more book reviews
Very well written fact-based story of Jane Grey. Kept my interest till the end. As far as historic fiction goes, this was one of my favorites. Alison Weir is just as good a writer as Philipa Gregory.
reviewed Innocent Traitor on + 2 more book reviews
I thought this was a great book, written in a little softer light than Phillipa Gregory's Tudor novels. It was nice to see a different side to the Tudor story. I will definitely be looking for more of Ms. Weir's books.
Ladyslott avatar reviewed Innocent Traitor on + 113 more book reviews
Alison Weir has long been one of my favorite historical biographers, so I was quite excited to read her first novel. Focusing on the tragic story of Lady Jane Grey, the ânine day Queen' Weir had fashioned a highly readable fictional account of Lady Jane's life from her birth to her tragic death at the age of sixteen.

The facts of Lady Jane's life are well known to any aficionado of the Tudor and Elizabethan periods of English royalty. Born to Frances Brandon, cousin of King Henry VIII, and Henry Dorset Jane is unloved by her parents who long for a son. Jane is a bright young girl who is used as a pawn by her family and the ambitious John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland. In their schemes they plan to put Jane on the throne after the untimely death of the young King Edward. They subvert the laws of succession that would have Mary, eldest daughter of King Henry the successor to the throne. In doing so they put Jane's life on the line, as she becomes the Innocent Traitor of the title.

Although I was very familiar with this story I found the author has written an enjoyable and moving account of the tragedy of Jane Grey's life. As always Weir's research is impeccable; although this is a novel I have to believe that she stayed as close to the facts as possible. I thoroughly enjoyed this engrossing account of one of the most dramatic events of the always tumultuous Tudor dynasty. Highly recommended
reviewed Innocent Traitor on + 26 more book reviews
I really liked this book about Jane Grey. It's a heart-breaking story but I was cheering Jane on throughout the novel. Such a hard society and time to be a woman...
mnphotos1951 avatar reviewed Innocent Traitor on + 10 more book reviews
This is one of the best books I have read recently. Alison Weir is a fantastic author, and this historical novel puts you right in the middle of the tragic story of Lady Jane Grey. If you are at all interested in Tudor England, this is one book that must be on your reading list.
mchriste22 avatar reviewed Innocent Traitor on + 3 more book reviews
I know a lot about Tudor England - both the fantasies created by historical fiction authors and Hollywood, as well as the factual history of the time. I'm by no means an expert, but my working knowledge made me pretty well-versed in Lady Jane Grey and her lamentably short reign as Queen of England before I began reading Innocent Traitor.

This book took me awhile to read, partly because of personal stuff and partly because I didn't find the first half particularly compelling. There was little besides my own determination that prompted me to turn each page and see what happened next. I hate to blame that on the author, though, because I really don't want to fault her for the fact that I knew the subject matter. That said, I think the fault does lie within the subject matter.

Lady Jane Grey, though incredibly smart and well-educated, was boring. Tragically boring. She was used as a puppet from the day she was born until the day she was executed. Because of her sex, her faith, her age and her station, she had no control over anything. She was utterly powerless. Her entire life was one, big, disappointing tragedy and what I will say for Ms. Weir is that she does an excellent job of hammering that point home. Where Elizabeth Tudor used her intelligence to navigate what could easily be described as the most perilous heritage and early life imaginable, Jane does very little to direct her own course, differing instead to her religious convictions and duty to obey - her parents, her sovereign, her elders, her faith. Jane's faith is her guiding light and as admirable as that was, it was also infuriating how it kept her from ever taking any personal action on her own behalf. There were times I almost put down the book because I just couldn't deal with her anymore. She suffered her trials like the Protestant martyr she later became, but that's all she did, and knowing how it would all end, it nearly became too much.

Reading Innocent Traitor has made me question my future reading habits. I'm going to think very carefully about whether or not I'll pick up the next novelization of an actual historical figure - especially one who has a tragic end. There is merit in Jane's story. Her unwavering faith is something to be admired regardless of religious affiliation and her grace in the face of death is inspiring.

But it is the injustices and the frailities of the human race that leave the lasting impression and I'm not sure how often I really need to be reminded of how cruel we can be to each other. Even taking into account that Innocent Traitor is a work of fiction, the sad truth is, Jane was executed. Ms. Weir may have taken creative license with the steps that brought her to the chopping block on February 12th, 1554, but steps were taken and I have no trouble believing that Ms. Weir came close to reality. Lady Jane Grey died as she lived, a political pawn in a game she wished no part of.

Since, I don't want to end this review on a dire note, from a techincal standpoing, I liked how Ms. Weir used a shifting first person narrative. Every major player had the opportunity for their viewpoint, their voice, to be heard and it made for a fairly well-balanced story. I am not inclined to ever sympathize with Queen Mary, but it was hard to hate her in this novel, despite her actions.

I'd really like to give this book 3.5 stars because it is a thoroughly researched and vividly imagined novel. Subject matter aside, I enjoyed Ms. Weir's style and I will definitely try her other works.
reviewed Innocent Traitor on + 27 more book reviews
I really enjoyed this book! Based on the true story of Lady Jane Grey, it is a great mix of fact and fiction.*****
reviewed Innocent Traitor on + 2 more book reviews
Great book. It was my first of Alison Weir's after reading many Phillipa Gregory novels. Her style of writing is refreshing and the descriptions are eloquent and daring. Bravo.
elizabeths avatar reviewed Innocent Traitor on + 2 more book reviews
Well written, entertaining, and informative!
IntrepidOne avatar reviewed Innocent Traitor on + 157 more book reviews
I really enjoyed this book. This time period and formula are right up my alley. Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction.
Readnmachine avatar reviewed Innocent Traitor on + 1388 more book reviews
Even avid followers of the Tudor saga may find this a bit of tough going. Weir is a talented writer, and this historical novel about Lady Jane Grey, reluctant Queen of England for nine days, is undoubtedly well-researched.

But it is slow. My lord, it is slow.

Grey was only 15 when, through the machinations of her ambitious parents, she was put forth as successor to Edward, only son of Henry VIII, an alternative to the Catholic Princess Mary. And at times, it seems Weir is intent on guiding us through each and every day of those 15 years, and of the eight months between Grey's abdication and her execution.

Part of the problem is that the young Lady Jane -- at least, in Weir's characterization -- is a self-righteous little prig. While she was undeniably ill-used by those in power, it's hard to develop much sympathy for her. Another part is Weir's use of rotating narrators, probably necessitated by the fact that it's got to be nearly impossible to produce a readable book narrated largely from the point of view of a pre-teen girl.

There are only two ways, really, to tell the story -- as a brief footnote to the history of the Tudor dynasty, or as a microscopic examination of the political machinations of a group of power-hungry men who would stop at nothing to seize and retain their power. Weir has chosen the latter, and it makes a long, hard haul for the reader.
booksandmusic avatar reviewed Innocent Traitor on + 51 more book reviews
I really tried to like this book because it was recommended and given to me by a friend. I was about 200 pages into it, when I had to give it up. I found it flat, slow moving, and hard to follow because the story is told from the viewpoint of several people, but unless you go back and look at the section headings, it is hard to know who is speaking.

I understand there were problems between Catholics and Protestants at this time, but being a practicing Catholic, I found it hard to read Lady Jane's negative beliefs about the Euchrist and the Mass that seemed to be so prominant throughout the parts of the book I read.

At this time, I am not planning to read any other books by this author.
reviewed Innocent Traitor on + 9 more book reviews
Entertaining and interesting.
Want fewer ads?