After centuries locked in an endless cycle of poverty, persecution, and barbarity, Europe has finally emerged into the Age of Enlightenment. Scientists, philosophers, scholars, and poets alike believe this to be a new era of reason and hope for all. But the forces of darkness haven’t completely dissipated, as Spain hunts and butchers any who dare to defy its ironclad Catholic orthodoxy.
Only one nation can fight the black shadow that threatens this new age, and that is Britain, now ruled by a brilliant young Queen Elizabeth I. But although she may be brave and headstrong, Elizabeth knows she cannot win this war simply by force of arms. After her armies have been slashed in half, her treasury is on its knees. Elizabeth needs a new kind of weapon forged to fight a new kind of war, in which stealth and secrecy, not bloodshed, are the means.
In this tense situation, Her Majesty’s Secret Service is born with the charismatic John Dee at its head. A scholar, a soldier, and an alchemist, Dee is loyal only to the truth and to his Queen. And for her, the woman he’s forbidden from loving, he is prepared to risk his life.
Source: NetGalley and Artria/Leopoldo Co. Rating: 2/5 stars
The Bottom Line: I am the first to admit I am a sucker for a good bit of historical fiction, and I have a particular fascination with Elizabethan-era stories. I dove into this book anticipating an excellent period piece but what I got is something I still haven’t quite wrapped my brain around. I believe I lost faith and interest in this book very early on, but I continued with the book to the very end hoping it would take a turn for the better. My interest was lost, and pure disbelief set in following the descriptions of Mary, Queen of Scots and how she spent her days locked away as a “guest” of Queen Elizabeth. I can accept a lot of things and like to consider myself open-minded, but this description seems tremendously far-fetched and wholly unnecessary to the telling of this particular story. To make matters worse, I found most of the characters to be somewhat unrealistic and completely out of synch with what history tells us about the people, time, and place. The point of historical fiction is to take the real and blend it with fiction to create a dynamic and interesting read based in reality. What I got with this book trends far more toward pure and somewhat fantastical fiction rather than historical fiction.