About The Book
The Elizabethan world is in flux. Radical new ideas are challenging the old. But the quest for knowledge can lead down dangerous paths…
London, 1594. The Queen’s physician has been executed for treason, and conspiracy theories flood the streets. When Nicholas Shelby, unorthodox physician and unwilling associate of spymaster Robert Cecil, is accused of being part of the plot, he and his new wife Bianca must flee for their lives.
With agents of the Crown on their tail, they make for Padua, following the ancient pilgrimage route, the Via Francigena. But the pursuing English aren’t the only threat Nicholas and Bianca face. Hella, a strange and fervently religious young woman, has joined them on their journey. When the trio finally reach relative safety, they become embroiled in a radical and dangerous scheme to shatter the old world’s limits of knowledge. But Hella’s dire predictions of an impending apocalypse, and the brutal murder of a friend of Bianca’s forces them to wonder: who is this troublingly pious woman? And what does she want?
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I enjoy historical fiction and the Jackdaw series is one of my favourites and is probably the only one that I am up to date on. It takes place in Tudor times but instead of concerning the power struggles around the queen it is more about ‘normal’ people. Many who live in fear of disease, poverty or being tried and tortured for practising the wrong religion.
Nicolas is one of the many who is being investigated, he has been wrongfully accused of a serious crime and alongside his new wife Bianca he leaves the country and finds himself on the Via Francigena heading towards Italy. To add to their troubles they have the misfortune of meeting up with a young woman, Hella Maas, who must be one of the most terrifying people I have come across in fiction. One of those who don’t even have to do to say that much to unsettle you. I fully agreed with Bianca, they should have stayed as far away from her as they could.
The unrest caused by religious beliefs is a main theme throughout the novel but another strong part of it was science and discovery. Galileo is one of the main characters, and one whose appearances I really enjoyed, even though I didn’t really understand this part of the storyline his personality made up for it. Anybody who has an interest in the history of science from this period would find it fascinating to read.
One of my favourite parts of the novel concerned Rose and Ned. Tasked with rebuilding The Jackdaw they run into trouble trying to prove Nicolas’s innocence. I love their relationship and both of their personalities.
I hope there is a book five, I would definitely be interested in what happens next to all of them.