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In this second in the series, Shakespeare has retired from "intelligencing" after Walsingham's death. He marries a Catholic woman and has a child and begins a school for poor children in London. But in , Shakespeare is "persuaded" to head back into the life of an intelligencer.

Put to work by Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex - young boy-toy of the aging Elizabeth - to find an elusive woman in London, who may - or may not - be Eleanor Dare, a possible survivor of the lost Roanoke Colony. Added into the mix is a plot against the life of Elizabeth - in the waning days of her rule - by the Devereux family, as well as the on-going, simmering dispute between Protestants and Catholics.

And those are the major plot points; there are quite a few smaller ones. Somehow, though, Clements never gets the plot lines confused in his writing, so the reader doesn't. Life in Elizabethan England was often, to paraphrase Thomas Hobbes, "short, brutish, and nasty".

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Plague often swept the cities, and daily life was not easy. Certainly many of the characters in "Revenger" didn't meet particularly happy ends; death by horrific means was depressingly common. Clements doesn't make light of ugly death in his work. It appears as an often justifiable end to many a badly-lived life.

Rory Clements has really developed an interesting set of characters in his series. Brother William makes a couple of appearances in the books, but the main character is John Shakespeare. I'm pleased that there is a third book in the series, already published in England and that I ordered from AmazonUK. Clements is a good writer; seemingly getting better with each book. Great historical novel An interesting historical novel which touches on the lost colony of Roanoake.

The plot is solid and the characterization is very good.

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However, the best aspect of Clements' books are the descriptions and feel you get for the period that the novel is set in. Oct 12, Suspense Magazine rated it really liked it. This is a tale of altered history, using John Shakespeare, the brother of William, as the sleuth. William even makes a brief appearance and plays a role. As the second book opens, John has retired from a palace and political intrigue to serve as headmaster of the Margaret Woode School for Poor Boys. His first main problem is an instructor who is too harsh wit This is a tale of altered history, using John Shakespeare, the brother of William, as the sleuth.

His first main problem is an instructor who is too harsh with the students, but whom he is stuck with. The instructor was foisted upon him by the Protestant Bishop as an agent to keep track that no Roman Catholic leanings creep into the curriculum. His second worry is the Roman Catholic faith of his beloved wife, Catherine. She refuses to keep it hidden, a dangerous position in England at this time. John worries for his wife and his young daughter. Queen Elizabeth, to whom John is loyal, has enemies. There may also be a plot to arrange a marriage between Lady Arabella Stuart, generally acknowledged to be next in line to the English throne, to Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex.

This would be a powerful alliance and could topple the queen. Some rough characters convince John to get back into the intrigue game, some working for Sir Robert Cecil, some for Essex. Somehow, his family is entangled in a plot to overthrow his monarch and he must use his wits to keep this from happening. Mar 08, Elisabeth rated it really liked it. The year is ; four years since the Spanish Armada and five years since the last time we met John Shakespeare.

I had read and enjoyed the first book so decided that I would try his second adventure. How can the death of 2 young lovers be linked to a plot by the Earl of Essex to take over the English throne when the ageing Queen Elizabeth I finally dies, the mystery of a colony in the new world and the hunt for an elusive woman all be linked?

Also thrown into the story is a falling out between S The year is ; four years since the Spanish Armada and five years since the last time we met John Shakespeare.

Revenger (John Shakespeare #2) by Rory Clements

Also thrown into the story is a falling out between Shakespeare and his wife Catherine over her desire to practice Catholicism. This murder, mystery, marital disharmony and double crossing make this an excellent second novel. The dark, dank atmosphere of 16th century London on the brink of a plague epidemic is fantastically recreated. The horrors of the period are also exposed through the somewhat gruesome torture techniques that would be handed out should you cross the wrong person. The book has obviously been expertly researched and the author's love of the period shines through.

Jun 10, Emma rated it really liked it. This book - the second in the John Shakespeare series - much surpasses the first one! Given the time in which the series is set, it being a murder-mystery, and the relationships and views of the characters it was impossible not to draw comparisons to C. Sansom's Shardlake series - and the first book undoubtedly fell short. However, this second instalment is far more sophisticated in its style, characterisation, plot..

I felt the series coming into its own I'm not always comparing i This book - the second in the John Shakespeare series - much surpasses the first one! I felt the series coming into its own I'm not always comparing it to Shardlake and was completely captivated by it. The third instalment of the series has affirmed this further and doesn't disappoint - I've just started it and love it even more!

Sep 24, Elizabeth rated it liked it. The main character is a fictitious older brother to William Shakespeare - a conceit popular in writing lately that I don't agree with. Not quite as good as the first but still very interesting. The elder Shakespeare is a spy and a loyal supporter of Queen Elizabeth I.

His wife is Catholic and headstrong in her faith. Two close advisors to the Queen are scheming and both have pulled Shakespeare into their conflicting plans. Aug 12, Gary rated it liked it.

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Second in the series and apart from the despicable baddie folding like a cheap deck chair right at the end, it is a good read. Plenty of atmosphere for the Elizabethan period and a cast of characters who appeal enough to make you want to root for the good guys and seethe about the bad ones. I'd happily read the 3rd if there is one. Apr 20, Lee Dunning rated it really liked it. I enjoyed the first but loved this one. Felt more rounded and developed and can't wait to read the next one.

Sep 02, Brian V rated it it was ok. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The dialog is often flat, motivations and actions of characters swing wildly without explanation i. Also, the connection to Wm Shakespeare is a cheep ploy to spike the plot. Jul 14, John rated it really liked it Shelves: A fine second book in this series - almost but not quite as good as the Shardlake series, but with a bit more action and violence.

I was surprised that we had moved on five years from the previous book, Walsingham is dead, his role now in the hands of Robert Cecil. John has become a schoolmaster, but not fo A fine second book in this series - almost but not quite as good as the Shardlake series, but with a bit more action and violence. John has become a schoolmaster, but not for long, as Clements takes us at a clattering pace through murders, plague, missing women and the misdeeds of the mighty.

I thoroughly recommend this book. Nov 22, Robert Lamphear rated it it was amazing. This is very good Elizabethan historical fiction where Shakespeare's mythical brother John his father's name is an intelligencer.

Rory Clements: Torture in Elizabethan England (John Shakespeare series author) - Hodder & Stoughton

Good summary of the facts the tale is based on at the end, ala Brown, Berry, etc. Good period stuff It's not Sansom, lacks both the drive and the subtleties, but it is a good tale, mostly historically accurate, and we'll told. If you have run out of Sansom and Mantell this is a good stopgap.

Another great read Great follow up to Martyr keeps the pages turning and hard to put down. Looking forward to the next in the series. Jun 11, Pauline Chamberlain rated it liked it. A good historical thriller set in times of Elizabeth 1 reign. Dec 21, Elizabeth Allen rated it really liked it. Another excellent, gripping instalment in this series. Essex is so well portrayed as are other key figures from the period. Jan 15, Peter Pinkney rated it liked it. Nevertheless enjoyable and well written.

Dec 30, Kathleen Eaton rated it really liked it. Daft making the hero William Shakespeare's brother but otherwise the tale was really good. Jan 10, C. Rory Clements MARTYR returns to the waning years of Elizabeth I's tumultuous reign in this excellent second installment of his series featuring the intelligencer John Shakespeare, older brother of the famous playwright. With the death of his former master Walsingham, Shakespeare is managing his school for boys and trying, though not very well, to contend with the religious fissures in his marriage caused by his devout Catholic wife, Catherine, who has been targeted by the fanatic persecutor, T Rory Clements MARTYR returns to the waning years of Elizabeth I's tumultuous reign in this excellent second installment of his series featuring the intelligencer John Shakespeare, older brother of the famous playwright.

With the death of his former master Walsingham, Shakespeare is managing his school for boys and trying, though not very well, to contend with the religious fissures in his marriage caused by his devout Catholic wife, Catherine, who has been targeted by the fanatic persecutor, Topcliffe. Shakespeare is also charged with uncovering the whereabouts of a lone survivor of a New World colony whose inhabitants have mysteriously disappeared. Fans of historical mysteries and thrillers will revel in Mr. From the squalor of London's seedy back alleys to the treachery lurking its palatial noble mansions, Clements propels his reluctant yet dedicated hero through enough twists and turns to keep us reading long into the night.

I, for one, cannot wait to see what happens to Mr. Jun 25, Paula rated it liked it Shelves: It seems that historical fiction set in Tudor times is the flavour of the month in the publishing world at present, though CJ Sansom's sales figures probably account for much of that - this series of books is set slightly later, in the waning days of Elizabeth's reign. Our protagonist is John Shakespeare, elder brother of the well-known playwright, and one-time intelligencer for Elizabeth's spymaster Walsingham. In 'Revenger' Shakespeare hopes his spying days are over, as he's settled down with h It seems that historical fiction set in Tudor times is the flavour of the month in the publishing world at present, though CJ Sansom's sales figures probably account for much of that - this series of books is set slightly later, in the waning days of Elizabeth's reign.

In 'Revenger' Shakespeare hopes his spying days are over, as he's settled down with his wife and child to teach in a London school; naturally, further problems are waiting just around the corner for him as he's recruited by both Elizabeth's current favourite the Earl of Essex and her new spymaster as Essex appears to be plotting to usurp the throne on the queen's death.

Matters are not helped by the fact that Shakespeare's wife is a Catholic and only grudgingly going along with the laws that govern religious practice at the time. I can't say I was quite as taken with 'Revenger' as I was with the previous book ' Martyr ' , getting a little annoyed with Shakespeare at times, not to mention the sheer selfish idiocy of some of his wife's behaviour.

The series continues in ' Prince ' and as yet I'm undecided whether I'll be continuing along with this particular author John Shakespeare, the James Bond of Elizabethan times? Well sort of, there's spying, double agents, intrigue, torture , sex and a bit of romance.


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Elizabeth is nearly 60 and not expected to live much longer. Who will succeed her, what happened to the ill fated ambition of Walter Raleigh and who exactly is the mysterious Mr McGunn? This is the Elizabethan age with the gloves off and we are shown that it may have been the golden age for some but not for the poor who were an embarrassment, Catholic John Shakespeare, the James Bond of Elizabethan times?

This is the Elizabethan age with the gloves off and we are shown that it may have been the golden age for some but not for the poor who were an embarrassment, Catholics are still persecuted, ambitions run high and unwanted wives disposed of by foul means. I thought that the book was a bit slow to start and I didn't think I was going to enjoy it even though historical novels are my favourite genre.

However, the story gathered pace covering the length and breadth of England as well as other countries. The only slight niggle with the book is that is did rely on at least three of the characters telling their stories to explain the why's and wherefores of the plot. While there's nothing really wrong with this I did feel it was a way of taking shortcuts. On the plus side I suppose that they also keep the book to a manageable size.

At the end of the book, there is a useful Elizabethan dictionary is case you didn't understand some of the terms and a short biography of some of the real but lesser know historical figures that populate the novel. The quiet life of John Shakespeare is shattered by a summons from Robert Cecil, the cold but deadly young statesman who dominated the last years of the Queen's long reign, insisting Shakespeare re-enter government service. Essex is the brightest star in the firmament, a man of ambition. He woos the Queen, thirty-three years his senior, as if she were a girl his age.

She is flattered by him - despite her loathing for his mother, the beautiful, dangerous Lettice Knollys who presides over her own glittering court - a dazzling array of the mad, bad, dangerous and disaffected. When John Shakespeare infiltrates this dissolute world he discovers not only that the Queen herself is in danger - but that he and his family is also a target. With only his loyal footsoldier Boltfoot Cooper at his side, Shakespeare must face implacable forces who believe themselves above the law: And in a world of shifting allegiances, just how far he can trust Robert Cecil, his devious new master?

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