Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Following the death of Henry VIII, John and his associates come together largely in secret with their eye on the future – a future with Elizabeth as queen. Their main priority is in keeping her safe from various factions who would rather see her dead. Elizabeth gradually learns somewhat about the common bond that the group has formed but she doesn’t always realize to what lengths they will go in order to achieve their goal. They reluctantly go along with the plan to put Jane Grey on the throne but only so that they can stay on the “inside” of what is going on and find a way to stop it.
As much as I enjoyed this slightly different look at Elizabeth’s life as well as the story itself, there were a couple of things that I found bothersome. The first is the use of present tense. Initially it annoyed me completely and I had a hard time getting into the story because of it. After a while though I think I got used to it as I didn’t seem to notice it as much. The second is what I’ll call the narrative doom and gloom and/or foreshadowing that reminded me a lot of Maurice Druon’s writing in his Accursed Kings series – something that I likened to the narrator in The Ten Commandments movie with Charlton Heston (from 1956). I could seriously hear that guys voice in my head sometimes as I was reading. Occasionally Parry takes this a bit farther and writes like he is literally setting a scene in a play. I found it a little distracting.
Despite theses minor issues, I found the story interesting, engaging and entertaining. There are moments of humor and suspense as Dee is a master of disguise and intrigue and sometimes has to extricate himself from a situation he has gotten himself into. Seeing the story of Elizabeth’s turbulent years during Mary’s reign through the eyes of Dee and his associates as they plan, plot and scheme behind the scenes to ensure Elizabeth’s survival brought a fresh perspective to a somewhat familiar story. Parry's website includes some information regarding the "basis" for his story; it would have been nice for this to have been included as an Author's Note of some kind in the book itself.
One does what one must for their country: “And she has no eyebrows…No eyebrows. How is a man to become serious about a woman who has not any eyebrows!” Philip of Spain grumbling about his future wife.
The road to enlightenment: “Would you make me into a human torch, my Lord so I might see the light?” Dee to one of the men questioning him during his imprisonment for calculating the horoscopes of Queen Mary and Princess Elizabeth (seen as treason).
In case the FTC asks: The author kindly sent me a copy to review.