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Revenger: A Novel of Tudor Intrigue    by Rory Clements order for
by Rory Clements
Order:  USA  Can
Bantam, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

If you've read Martyr, the introductory novel in this series of historical thrillers, you already know of the brilliant exploits of John Shakespeare on behalf of his queen and country. The older brother of a fairly well known Elizabethan playwright, John is an intelligencer. His job is to find out things, conduct delicate investigations and be of service to those who might pose a threat to the wellbeing of his sovereign, Queen Elizabeth I.

Retired since his last assignment, John has been the headmaster of a school. He is called out of retirement by two very powerful English peers, Privy Councilor Sir Robert Cecil and the dashing and dangerous Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex.

While Essex wants Shakespeare to locate a women who has been seen in London and is said to be a survivor of the ill-fated Roanoke colony in North America, Sir Robert charges the intelligencer with spying on Essex and preventing his marriage to Lady Arbella Stuart.

The Privy Councilor fears that if the marriage takes place it will result in a power grab where Arbella will ascend to the throne after Elizabeth's death and Essex will, through his wife, control the land.

With the plague raging across the country and his own wife's life at risk because of her Catholic religious beliefs, Shakespeare perhaps shouldn't become embroiled in this situation. Both men are clever and well-connected aristocrats. Becoming involved in their affairs could have serious consequences for Shakespeare and his whole family, yet he is willing to be their pawn in a very deadly game of high stakes politics.

'Why would he work for one powerful man against another? The reason was clear. He still cared about this realm and his instinct told him that only one man, truly, had its interests at heart.'

Rory Clements has done his homework and captured the flavor and facts about this very tumultuous period of British history. From London's squalid back streets to the bedrooms of the nobility, you'll see a side of English culture and learn about the skullduggery of those at court that was never fully explained in the history books or the Bard's plays.

Either before or after you've read this engrossing novel, make sure to read the Historical Note and the Character Notes the author provides at the back of the book. They are certainly very enlightening! I waited until I finished the book, but you won't ruin the plot be taking a peek before you get too far into the story.

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