Tuesday, February 6, 2018

"A Queen's Spy" by Sam Burnell

This was a historical fiction novel set in 1550s England. Henry VIII is dead and his son, the young King Edward VI is dying. King Edward’s chief adviser, The Duke of Northumberland has been trying to hide that fact from the rest of the court, for with the death of the king, he will lose his power and influence. If Edward dies childless, the throne will pass to Henry VIII’s eldest daughter Mary and should she have no children, after Mary’s death it will pass to Henry VIII’s younger daughter Elizabeth.

This was a tumultuous time in England, for HenryVIII, EdwardVI, and Elizabeth were Protestants whereas Mary was a devout Catholic. Having a Catholic Queen was not something many of the nobility wanted, whereas many others were waiting impatiently with the hope that soon Mary would be supporting Catholicism in England.

The main characters and plots in this book seemed to revolve around the Fitzwarren family. Richard, Robert, half-brother Jack, and Cousin Harry, There is a lot of animosity among them for more reasons than I can explain here.

This was a longer book than most of the ones I have read lately, but I enjoy historical fiction. This book does have quite a lot of history contained within. For some, it might occasionally get a bit confusing if you are not already familiar with what was happening politically in England at that time. I enjoyed reading about the history as well as the fictional aspects that filled in the details that we were not around to experience firsthand, though some of what I would have liked to know more about (Lady Jane Grey, the 9 day queen for example) was not given much attention, although given the length of the book, I can understand why such details were not as prominent or as well detailed. I also would have preferred for the book to have been a bit better edited. There were a number of typos and other errors within that I wish had been caught and corrected before publication.

One of my favorite parts of this book was actually the Author’s Note at the beginning. The insights into the creation of this book were quite entertaining and had me both amused and at times groaning in sympathy. If you enjoy historical fiction, then I think you will likely enjoy this book. But you should be aware that it is longer than many might be used to reading these days. If a 400+ page book is too long for your tastes, this might not be one for you. I, however, did enjoy it a great deal.

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