on 20 March 2004
Fortune's Slave is the fourth outing for Countess Ashby de la Zouche and her remarkably well-endowed woman, Alpiew. Fidelis Morgan treats us to a hell-ride through the stinking streets and stews of Southwark at the dawn of the eighteenth century. We encounter coiners, highwaymen, strumpets, night-soil men, priceless gems and monkeys in pantaloons and that's before the story really gets going. One man ends up without his stomach and the Countess passes the night amongst the ashes of a glass foundry. Such is the wealth of detail that the story draws us in and one overlooks the remarkable scholarship of the author. We almost have to hold our noses to read Morgan's work. All life is here, the rudimentary insurance trade and the beginnings of stocks and share trading, combine this with a good murder mystery and you have a book which is entertaining, exciting, funny and rude. I like rude best. What a change from the usual cliche-ridden, one man and his sidekick, formulaic pap. Let's have another, please!
on 3 February 2004
This, I believe, is the fourth book in this series featuring the Countess and Alpiew. Whilst I think you could quite happily pick up this volume and enjoy the tale, I do think it would be of benefit to read the earlier novels - or at least the very first one, Unnatural Fire - to get an education in who is who and who does what. Thoroughly wonderful convoluted plot - I didn't figure out the killers beforehand this time - and lots of rather witty asides, such as the complaints about having to pay a toll to enter London (just fancy - paying to use your capital city's roads...), although I don't think there can be a better one than Le Roi Was Here, carved into a bed head in a previous novel (the Countess was a mistress of Charles II). London comes to life in the grubbiest, smelliest and most believable manner. A quick education on the status of black servants and also slavery - I didn't know so many black people had been living in Britain for centuries as servants and what amounted to almost family friends. Also good for a quick educatin on glass manufacturing... Excellent novel. Hearty recommendations.
on 25 June 2013
Naughty, funny, complicated, hilarious, touching,scary, creepy, all of above. Clever plotting as per usual for Ms Morgan, so much so I can rarely keep up, being more of a Godfrey than a Miss Alpiew. But I don't care, I'm there for the ride through, around, out of and back into historical, crude, noisy,crowded,stinking London in all it's glory. Banking features, insurance, a bewildered hangman, blaggards, cheats and thiefs. 17th c? Or is it early 18th? Anyway, good fun, a good read. Recommended.