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Firemaster's Mistress Paperback – 2 Oct 2006

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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (2 Oct. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007180683
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007180684
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 463,822 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

‘A rich mix of romance, suspense, adventure and lightly-worn knowledge. Gunpowder, treason and plot have never been so entertaining.’ Kate Saunders, The Times

‘Atmospheric and impressively researched, it is highly entertaining.’ Elizabeth Buchan, The Sunday Times

‘Marries conspiracy theory to Jacobean high-jinks…a racy read…reveals the principal actors to be models of conspirators everywhere: single-minded, ideologically driven, careless of their own and others lives, believers for the wrong reasons in the efficacy of a single violent blow to change the course of history …so strangely does it resonate with our own times…sometimes one is momentarily unsure whether one is in 1605 or 2005 as one reads.’ A.C. Grayling, Financial Times

‘The Firemaster’s Mistress is that rare historical novel: utterly congruent with history and successful as a work of fiction. It tells the story of an engaging man betrayed both by his own honour and his love for a Roman Catholic woman. His skills with explosives lead him into the very heart of the conspiracy, walking a difficult line with plotters, spymasters, and his own fears. The England of James I is magnificently evoked in this engaging novel.’ Philippa Gregory

‘A tour de force on many levels. Primarily a love story set against the backdrop of 17th-century terrorism, this relates a tragedy that puts you on the rack in its literary quest for truth about November 5.’ Oxford Times

‘Brilliant historical romance.’ Sainsbury’s Magazine

About the Author

Christie Dickason was born in America but also lived as a child in Thailand, Mexico and Switzerland. Harvard-educated, and a former theatre director and choreographer (with the Royal Shakespeare Company and at Ronnie Scott’s among others), she lives in London with her family.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Je Storey on 13 Sept. 2005
Format: Paperback
I read this book based upon the blurb on the back and I wasn't disappointed. Following along the lines of such authors as Phillipa Gregory and Margaret George the author of this novel looks at the possible story of the gunpowder plot. I felt that this novel was well written with a well thought out plot and enjoyed it a great deal as a result.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Silver Willow on 15 Aug. 2007
Format: Paperback
I had the pleasure of meeting Christie Dickason at a book launch for The Firemaster's Mistress. I was involved in a show to mark the 400th Anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot at the same venue. After a thought-provoking and enthusiastic discussion about books, plays and history - I couldn't wait to start reading The Firemaster's Mistress. I was captivated from the start and only stopped reading when my eyelids refused to stay open for even one more word!

Historical novels are tricky creatures; any author venturing into the past wields a double-edged sword. On the one side there is a fairly rigid framework of facts and figures, artefacts and documents that provide structure and guidance, on the other side there is absolute freedom to weave a host of imaginary yet wholly believable characters into the framework, but in order to do so the author must step back in time and live and breath the air of the period, feel the cut of the cloth, taste the preservative-free food, and have a mind free of Twenty-First Century luxuries and advancements such as: medicine and healthcare, mobile phones, test messages, email, instant news, clean running water and motorised transport.

Ms Dickason has the heart and spirit of a Bard intertwined with a gloriously empathic ability to dive into the past and to bring it effortlessly into the present. Ms Dickason opens a clear path between centuries taking the reader with her on an exhilarating, poignant, edifying, eloquent, intriguing, journey.

Every twist and turn is expertly developed and beautifully resolved. The characters are so alive and real that the reader is with them every step of the way. The strength of meticulous research illuminates every page without detracting from the potency of the prose and the power of the story.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By S. P. Mcbride on 29 Sept. 2006
Format: Hardcover
The opening words of this wonderful novel transports the reader back 400 years to an England torn by suspicion and darkened by conspiracy. Ms Dickason's evidently extensive research has enabled her to create the sights, smells, alleyways, alliances, loves, hates and passions of the time. A highly evocative writer, she describes events in such vivid prose you can almost smell the gunpowder and the sea and the sweat of a couple making love; you hear a man's neck break and an enraged bear growl; and all the time, the author is guiding you expertly through the labyrinth of her exquisitely realised plot.

Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By J. Chippindale TOP 500 REVIEWER on 24 Oct. 2006
Format: Paperback
Christie Dickason was born in the American Midwest, but as a child lived in Mexico, Thailand and Switzerland. She was educated at Harvard university and has been a theatre director and choreographer with the Royal Shakespeare Company. She now lives in London with her family

This work of fiction is based around the true story of the infamous Catholic plot to blow up King James and his parliament. Seen through the eyes of a courtesan and the Firemaster of the title. The narrative follows a intricate plot that will keep the reader fascinated throughout the book.

The year is 1605 and papist plots abound in the narrow streets of London. Every inn and every alleyway is a potential meeting place for the catholic plotters. Francis Quoynt, Firemaster recently returned from the wars in the low countries is dreaming of leaving the fighting behind and concentrating on making fireworks.

But his dream is short lived when he is recruited by the First Minister Sir Robert Cecil to spy on Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators. What Quoynt does not realise is that he himself is also being spied upon by Sir Francis Bacon . . . Also November 5th is approaching, but no one is aware of the significance of that date.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Clio on 24 Mar. 2012
Format: Paperback
An exciting and tense novel that centres on the build up to the Gunpowder Plot in the early seventeenth century. The highly skilled Firemaster Francis Quoynt returns to England from the wars in Flanders with hopes of making fireworks rather then participating in more wars. Upon his return he is enlisted to spy for Robert Ceil who fears there is a plot hatching against the king from a Catholic group. As a result of working to stop the plotters, Francis is reunited with his old lover and secret Catholic Kate Peach who makes gloves for a living. Over the course of the book the fates of both Kate and Francis entwine with those of the conspirators in dramatic and different ways.

The fast pace and multi-layered plotting surrounding the novel really hooked me - I never knew what was going to happen next right up until it ended. It can be slightly maze like when trying to keep the different plots straight but I never felt lost which was good. I really loved the complex character of Robert Ceil, the statesman with a puppetmaster's touch for pulling strings behind the scenes. He could have easily been either the villain or hero in the novel but the reader and Francis is never sure of Ceil, even when the book ends. Boomer, Francis' father and Richard Seaborn were also interesting and sympathetic characters that I really warmed to, whilst the character of Guido in the novel was compelling to read. I was shocked by Kate's final choice, although it did feel slightly abruptly, it suited her transformation over the book well.

I don't have much knowledge of the period or the Gunpowder Plot other then that Guy Flawkes got caught but the story feels very well researched, especially the process of making of the gunpowder!
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