Even though I am not into Tudors at all, I enjoyed "Merchant Adventurers" tremendously. In the parlance of a well-known tv-show about cars, my judgment would be "subzero", and then a bit cooler still.
The Merchant Adventurers in question was a company of London merchants who, inspired by none other than Sebastian Cabot (son of the more famous John Cabot), attempted to set up a trade route with the Far East bypassing the Portugese-controlled route around the Cape of Good Hope. What must have seemed like a good idea at the time (sailing across the North Pole, or perhaps just Southeast after rounding the North Cape) turned out to be a good deal more complicated in practice: the theory that the temperatures would rise again as you got further and further north turned out to be as unfounded as was the notion that there probably was not all that much land left East of Scandinavia. On top of this, the first expedition suffered from contrary winds and a major storm that blew them apart. A practicable North-East passage to China proved to be an illusion.
Still, a lot was achieved: one ship made its way into the White Sea and some of it crew, lead by the great Richard Chancellor managed to make it all the way to Moscow and negotiate a nice trading agreement (a monopoly, effectively) with Ivan the Terrible. I won't give away the fate of the other ships.
Mr. Evans's writing is extremely good. He is clearly very knowledgeable but wears his scholarship lightly. In addition to the main story, I very much liked the excursions into the background of contemporary England as well as Russia: the troublesome succession from the sickly but fanatical Edward VI via Lady Jane Grey to Mary Stuart, the contemporary religious turmoil in England, the transformation of the former Duchy of Muscovy into what was becoming a regional power under Ivan the Terrible, and last but not least the antics of this fascinating personality and his court. Nothing but praise for this wonderful book.