Retrato do autor

Andrew Swanston

Autor(a) de The King's Spy

9 Works 238 Membros 13 Críticas

About the Author


Obras por Andrew Swanston

The King's Spy (2012) 93 exemplares
The Incendium Plot (2017) 56 exemplares
The King's Exile (2013) 34 exemplares
The King's Return (2014) 26 exemplares
Chaos (2020) 15 exemplares
Waterloo: The Bravest Man (2015) 8 exemplares
The River (2018) 3 exemplares


Conhecimento Comum




Received in ebook format from

It was only after checking online that I realised that this was #2 in a series - there has clearly been events in #1 that would explain why Thomas rapidly finds himself on a boat going to Barbados as an indentured servant, to work for two violent vicious thugs on a sugar plantation. They are physically and verbally violent, mainly towards their betters and women. Much of the violence is implied (screams in the distance etc), with only the occasional slightly more graphical indication of events - such as when boiling sugar strips away flesh from an unfortunate slave.

Thomas spends his first two years working for the Gibbes brothers, whose threats of violence (and occasional whipping) seem to be enough to keep Thomas from escaping. The threats allow for no interaction with the black slaves on the estate and there is only one mulatto from another estate who is educated and well spoken enough for no attempt to be made at a patois. There are the occasional scenes of the Boiling room etc, but in every situation Thomas is on his own, with no interaction with the black slaves.

Thomas escapes and takes refuge with another plantation owner and the next few years sees him recovering from his treatment and becoming a useful member to the plantation owners. This is a difficult time for the inhabitants of Barbados, where news from England is slow to arrive and does not rapidly reflect the ever changing politics around the Monarchy and Oliver Cromwell's waning fortunes. Politics seem to be at the mercy of the local inhabitants as much as what is going on in England.

There are several bloody fights where people are protecting both their specific plantations, and the wider island against invaders. It many instances people are dispatched in a bloody and violent manner. Finally Thomas manages to reach his just rewards and return home with his family and rich and more contented man.

My overall feeling was that it was very.... dispassionate and disconnected. Whilst an interesting story, I wasn't really that engaged with the main character or any of the supporting people (the most amusing and satisfying bit being the unmarried Mary's reasoning for not wanting to lose one of her legs as "Charles likes the way my legs wrap around him"). The sister and nieces were so one-dimensional as to be non-entities - I dont know if they were more rounded in the previous book - or will be in further books.

This is a section of history that I don't know much about - just what *was* the effect of the change in monarchy on the Slave Trade and the Colonies? I'm sure that the daily lives of all people working in the sugar trade was more brutal and short as envisioned in this book.

So in short, a nice interlude of a story that wasnt a deep commentary on history or slavery but which had the opportunity of being so much more.
… (mais)
nordie | 1 outra crítica | Oct 14, 2023 |
Winter 1574 and the City of London is in uproar, witches are being burned, slogans are daubed on houses and false coins are in circulation. It is the latter that concern the Earl of Essex as these coins show his family emblems and so he requests the assistance of Dr Radcliff. Radcliff himself also has problems, his new housekeeper has been accused of witchcraft and put in prison and his lover has finally refused to see him, accusing him of using the favours of a whore. Ell is just an informer but Kat is convinced otherwise. Radcliff's friend is killed and the chase after the perpetrators leads him to have to make to some difficult decisions.
This is a second outing for Dr Christopher Radcliff and his companions in Elizabethan London. It is a strong piece of historical fiction with a suitable twisty plot and some interesting characters. I particularly liked the consideration of the deformed, both in terms of the woman accused of witchcraft and the 'villain', both sympathetic characters in their own right but used as a device to illustrate prejudices amongst the people.
… (mais)
pluckedhighbrow | Sep 2, 2020 |
London in the mid 1570s and rumour abounds of plots against the Queen with both Catholic nations at their centre. When one of his informants disappeared Radcliff is concerned but his paymaster, the Earl of Leicester, has other plans for him. Radcliff is sent to France to liaise with Sir Francis Walsingham and find out what he can against about a plot named Incendium which will destroy Elizabeth and put her cousin Mary (Queen of Scots) on the throne. In Paris Radcliff is caught up in the St Bartholomew's Day Massacre and this affects him deeply. Returning to London he finds that his two lines of enquiry are connected and also that there is a traitor in his circle.

This is the first in a proposed series of books about an Elizabethan intelligence agent, Radcliff, from a writer with a strong track record in writing historical fiction. I did like the fact that the reader is introduced to Radcliff with little backstory and only snippets are given. We are told that Radcliff is afraid of prisons within the first few pages and that he used to be a Cambridge lecturer, later we learn that he spent time in prison and later still we are told the nature of the crime and how he ended up in London. However there is no great detail and this allows Swanston the luxury of being able to explore that in later books. The plot is suitably complex, the sense of time and place excellent with the scenes set in Paris and Amiens particularly well-researched and touching. I look forward to reading the next chapter.
… (mais)
pluckedhighbrow | 1 outra crítica | Apr 26, 2018 |
London 1661, the Commonwealth is over and the King is returned from exile. Thomas Hill has come to London to attend the Coronation, guest of friends visiting from Barbados. Hill is settled into retirement and is not looking for adventure but adventure finds him.

Three men have been slain in suspicious circumstances. The methods are different but two are linked by connections to the Post Office and its work in intercepting communications. There is concern that both the Dutch and the French are looking for an opportunity to invade England. Added to this Hill is developing a relationship with an independent young woman and he does not know where that is leading.

I hadn't seen the first two books in the series so I came to this cold about characters and back-story, that is often a problem with joining a series mid-way. In this case the book stands up well on its own. There are references to previous escapades but these are always given a quick explanation and are not intrinsic to the tale. It's an enjoyable story which moves along at a good pace and the bits about cryptography are very interesting.
… (mais)
pluckedhighbrow | Jun 26, 2017 |


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½ 3.5

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