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3.6 out of 5 stars9
3.6 out of 5 stars
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on 26 July 2000
Although it starts off very complex and difficult to read, once you're through the first 40 pages, you will begin to appreciate the thought and effort that Finney put into her characters and especially her story. It took me four attempts and having to read the sequel before I was finally convinced that this book was worth the work. The story is set in the late 16th century and spans two and a half years in the lives of three main characters. They are Simon Ames, a Jewish code-breaker working for the queen's secretary; David Becket, an ex-soldier and sword-fighting teacher; and Tom O'Bedlam, a schizophrenic beggar who sees most of what goes on in London and narrates the story. His madness is what makes the plot hard to follow and also the reason why when it finally comes together the intricacies and details are well appreciated. The story is basically a spy novel from the days when politics and religion were inseparable and treason and blasphemy intertwined. It takes more than one read to understand it completely, and it's a book that you can lose yourself in for hours. It is quite simply the best mix of carefully researched history, believable characters and interesting intelligent plot that a mystery-lover could wish for. Treat yourself!
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on 18 October 2007
I don't know about you but I divide books into two categories: there's books that exercise the mind and require an effort to understand, and then there's books that require no such effort. All the Richard Sharpe-novels for instance fall into the latter category, the books Patricia Finney writes into the former.

That is not to say the former category is any less good, on the contrary. With me it just depends on the mood I'm in: sometimes I'll just want to 'sit back, relax and enjoy the ride', and at other times the need to take notes, re-read passages to make sure I've understood them fully, look up references and generally sort of struggle with a book to have it release its full meaning adds to the pleasure.

But to return to "Firedrake's eye": if you make the effort this is a cracking good read. The plot is complicated to say the least (I'm sure surviving in a court as riddled with intrigue as Elizabeth's was too), the language dense and compact but by the same token poetical and highly charged with meaning, and Finney brings to life Elizabethan London in a very colourful way. If you liked "Firedrake's eye" by all means read "Unicorn's blood" and "Gloriana's torch" as well, they both are as good.
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on 22 September 1999
Exciting, vivid, gripping, fun. Cleverly written Elizabethan thriller, full of intrigue, mystery and superstition. Well-researched, stylishly composed, highly recommended.
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on 1 February 2009
Great book by a great author. She writes as if she were there. Her historical research is great.
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on 6 December 2015
One of the best historical spy movels. Notable for the unusual use of language which echoes, but does not pastiche, Elizabethan rhythms.
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on 13 December 2015
Another really good story by Patricia Finney
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VINE VOICEon 4 October 2008
Despite its beautiful eye-catching and brightly coloured embossed cover, I simply could not get into this.

I could not get further than a mere fifty or so pages with this - it just didn't flow smoothly enough... I could not make much sense of what I was reading, and the first few short chapters kept 'switching' from the present year (in which the novel is set) to the previous one, and I could find no connection with either. Also, the style in which this novel is written read like some form of text book - I found it made for poor reading. Of course this style might delight many who like it, but it did nothing for me...

It has been a while since I gave up on a book after reading so few pages...
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VINE VOICEon 4 October 2008
Despite its beautiful eye-catching and brightly coloured embossed cover, I simply could not get into this.

I could not get further than a mere fifty or so pages with this - it just didn't flow smoothly enough... I could not make much sense of what I was reading, and the first few short chapters kept 'switching' from the present year (in which the novel is set) to the previous one, and I could find no connection with either. Also, the style in which this novel is written read like some form of text book - I found it made for poor reading. Of course this style might delight many who like it, but it did nothing for me...

It has been a while since I gave up on a book after reading so few pages...
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on 23 April 2015
Poor
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