From Rory Clements, winner of the Ellis Peters Historical Fiction Award, comes Traitor, the fourth in his acclaimed John Shakespeare Elizabethan mystery series.
"Does for Elizabeth's reign what C. J. Sansom does for Henry VIII's" (Sunday Times).
The Elizabethan navy has a secret weapon: an optical instrument so powerful it gives England unassailable superiority at sea. Spain will stop at nothing to steal it and seize the two men who understand its secrets - William Ivory, the 'Queen's Eye', and the magician Dr Dee. With a second Armada threatened, intelligencer John Shakespeare is sent north to escort Dr Dee to safety. But he finds Dee's host, the Earl of Derby, dying in agony, apparently poisoned.
Who wants him dead and why? What lies behind the lynching of a recusant priest, and how is the mysterious but beautiful Lady Eliska involved?
While Shakespeare attempts to untangle a plot that points to treachery at the very highest reaches of government, he also faces serious accusations far closer to home. With so much at stake, must he choose between family and his duty to Queen and country?
©2011 Rory Clements (P)2012 John Murray
"Beautifully done . . . alive and tremendously engrossing" (Daily Telegraph)
"A colourful history lesson . . . exciting narrative twists" (Sunday Telegraph)
"Enjoyable, bloody and brutish" (Guardian)
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"Traitor - left wanting more"
I thoroughly enjoyed the book. A gripping story line and believable characters. The narration was perfectly balanced and the voices well matched to the character. I will read the next book in the series
"Intrigue and adventure in Elizabethan England"
Traitor is the fourth in a series of five novels (so far) by Rory Clements, following Martyr, Revenger and Prince and preceding The Heretics. John Shakespeare is the fictional brother of William Shakespeare and is an intelligencer – an agent in the Tudor court of Elizabeth I. Each book sees Shakespeare solving a different crisis, and in this one it’s the theft of a unique telescope that could win England its struggle with the Spanish. Together with Boltfoot Cooper – the Watson to his Holmes – Shakespeare must find the telescope and the one man who can use it, battling the forces of politics, injustice and threats to his family along the way.
The story is energetic and engaging, and Clements conveys a real sense of the period – the injustice, the poverty and the religious intolerance – without making the story-telling turgid. The story weaves fictional characters and situations with those from history in a way that is seamless and convincing, and there’s a clear sense of authenticity to the many historical details that add colour to the prose. As the fourth in the series, Traitor develops a story arc that was started in the first book, Martyr, but enough back-story is peppered into the plot to make Traitor a novel that can stand on its own feet and make reading its predecessors unnecessary.
Gareth Armstrong’s reading is clear and well-paced, and his delivery rich and emotional without being over-dramatic. He gives each character its own voice and personality and stays true to both throughout the story – it’s easy to think you’re listening to a drama with multiple actors. Armstrong does women’s voices very well too, and in giving lisps, breathlessness and even buck teeth to his characters, he brings them alive.
"Not the best in the series, but still a good read"
I absolutely loved the previous 3 books in this series. This book, whilst still very good, doesn't have the same 'gripping' storyline and feels a little flat in places (where hawkwood is travelling around Lancashire). The bolt foot storyline is very good however.
Overall, much better than most other books of this genre and I will definitely read the next book in the series.
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