S. J. Parris


""For those fans of Elizabethan plot and counterplot this book is irresistible." "


This is the fourth book about Giordano Bruno, an Italian ex-monk fleeing from the Inquisition because of his heretical views. He has established a niche for himself in the Elizabethan court as an investigator for Sir Francis Walsingham. He has found a home and protection in the house of the French Ambassador because of his work for the French King. All this is about to change as a new Ambassador is coming to England, and one not sympathetic to Bruno.

Bruno accompanies his friend Sir Philip Sidney to Plymouth to welcome Dom Antonio, pretender to the Portuguese throne and a would-be ally against the might of Spain. Sidney is desperate to find some adventure and is planning to ask Sir Francis Drake for a passage in his voyage to the Americas. He wants Bruno to go with him.

When they meet Drake on board the Elizabeth Bonadventure they find that all is not well as a member of the party has been found dead, apparently by his own hand but with sufficient doubts for Drake to ask Bruno to investigate. As he follows the clues, he discovers intrigue and treachery both in the ship's crew and in the town of Plymouth where Drake's ships are ready to sail.

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This is another of S J Parris' brilliantly evocative tales of Elizabethan England. The historical detail and background description really take you back to bygone times. She is limited to some extent by the fact that Bruno was a real person with a recorded history, but in this story she imagines a whole story with twists and turns that cleverly interweave with the known historical facts. Her imaginative portrayal of Drake and Sidney put flesh on their bones and gives them a rounded personality that adds to the excitement of the tale. Plymouth's seedy side is uncompromisingly described. Life was certainly not easy for the poor in those days. Bruno is a sympathetic character but his solitary lifestyle, his independence and inability to commit to anyone who is obtainable give hints of what may be to come. The future is uncertain and he has to live for the moment. The intrigue of court life and the ever present threat of Spanish invasion keep him on his toes. This is a substantial piece of work and is so absorbing that the pages simply fly by. For those fans of Elizabethan plot and counterplot this book is irresistible.

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