Rags Of Time by Michael Ward – Review.

About The Book

London.

1639.

Thomas Tallant, a young and ambitious Spice Merchant, returns from India to find his city in turmoil. 

A bitter struggle is brewing between King Charles I and Parliament, as England slides into civil war. The capital is simmering with dissent. The conflict is ready to boil over.

But Thomas soon has other troubles to contend with. A wealthy merchant, Sir Joseph Venell, is savagely killed; then his partner Sir Hugh Swofford plunges to his death, in the Tallant household.

Suspicion falls on Thomas, who is sucked into a mire of treachery and rumour within the City of London. As the merchant struggles to clear his name, he becomes captivated by the enigmatic Elizabeth Seymour, whose passion for astronomy and mathematics is matched only by her addiction to the gaming tables.

Pursued by the authorities, Thomas races to unmask the real killer who claims a third victim to implicate him further, toying with his future in a deadly cat and mouse game.

In a desperate race against time, Elizabeth applies her powers of logic and deduction to unearth the clues that will point to the killer, but her way is barred by a secret message from the grave. 

Can she crack its code before Thomas, now a wounded and exhausted fugitive, succumbs to the chase?

And, if she succeeds, has Thomas the strength to face his tormentor and win his life and reputation back?

My Review

With thanks to the author for the copy received. I always enjoy a dip into historical fiction and even though I read quite a lot that takes place in London this is the first book that I have read that is set in the 17th century. I found it refreshing, interesting and enlightening.

I remember learning at school about the reign of Charles I and the onset of the English Civil War but hadn’t really followed it since. I was aware of a few battles taking place in the Northern city where I live, one of them a few hundred yards from my home. But I knew nothing about what it was like for the normal everyday citizen who had to try and survive a London that was overcrowded, full of the disease and filth that goes with overcrowding and also cope with increasingly volatile and dangerous times. Nobody was safe. Particularly Tom, the lead character in this novel who manages to find himself suspected of murder. Even though he had an alibi.

I really liked Elizabeth Seymour, forward thinking, open, and clever. I enjoyed reading about her knowledge of the human body and found it fascinating what the medics at the time thought. She didn’t fall into the image I have of a woman from these times. I couldn’t see her behaving like she was expected to. Meek, compliant and invisible. 

I see huge potential for this to be the start of a successful series. Strong characters, a less discussed period in British history and a very realistic setting.