A Queen’s Spy by Samantha Burnell

A Queen’s Spy by Samantha Burnell

‘The mist still clung to the fields and stole the colour from the trees as the men gathered for the hunt.’

Sixteenth century Tudor England provides the setting for this novel. Uncertainty about the succession as Edward VI’s life draws to a close provides a suitable backdrop for both political intrigue and deep family secrets.

Enter Richard Fitzwarren. Richard Fitzwarren once worked within Thomas Seymour’s household, as part of his intelligence network. Richard’s close friendship with Princess Elizabeth was deemed inappropriate and he was banished to France. But when Richard returns to England, with his mercenary band, he apparently remains loyal to Elizabeth despite intriguing with Northumberland to place Lady Jane Grey on the throne. Richard’s bastard brother Jack is by his side. The two brothers are very different: Jack is impatient and impulsive and is desperately seeking acceptance as Richard’s equal. There’s another brother as well, Robert, who is the Fitzwarren heir.

‘There’s a story here, am I right?’

Ms Burnell has constructed an interesting work of fiction in and around the history of the period.
Richard Fitzwarren is a complex character: detached and secretive, it is difficult to be sure exactly where his loyalties might lie. There is more to him (and to the story) than immediately meets the eye. There are several layers to this novel, and a huge cast of characters.

I found parts of the novel intriguing, and there’s always room in my list of fictional characters for a hero (or antihero) with cornflower blue eyes, blond hair and complex family relationships. I’m interested in how this story will develop, and will be looking out for the next instalment.

‘The sea was stormy, which was bad – both for those who earned their living from its depths and those who wished to travel over its surface.’

Note: Ms Burnell offered, and I accepted, a free electronic copy of this novel for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith