Yet another chronicling of Elizabeth's reign, this keeps hold of the relationship, which changed through the years, between her and Lord Robert Dudley, later Earl of Leicester, and emphasizes the many other men over whom she kept absolute dominion. It allows for the mental despoiling of her innocence by the scandal, precipitated by the Lord Admiral, in her youth, the need then to escape traps, to indulge in precocious lies, and, her innocence affirmed, for the total shock of Seymour's death that made her a woman of icy calculation who did ""not want any human creature to partake in the power that was hers"". So that Dudley, rising from master of the horse, suspect of the murder of his wife, could never achieve his first desire of marrying Elizabeth, could only learn to follow her commands and earn her real devotion, whatever emotional and political shifts occurred. The long, deadly, cautious game that Elizabeth played with Mary, always to secure time from the French and the Spaniards; the formidable taming of adversaries -- as well as supporters, the parade of international and internal crises, the indomitable force that kept her the symbol the people needed -- these too are part of the portrait. The acclaim and subsequent popularity of last year's Elizabeth The Great may mitigate against an audience for this, but this author has proved in previous books that her subjects are handled competently.