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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tudor Skulduggery
Nowadays it is hard to imagine the vitriolic hatred between the catholic and the protestant powers which raged in 16th century Tudor England. After all, the Tudors changed the religion of the country from Catholic to Anglican, Protestant back to Catholic and then Anglican. No wonder people were confused.

The major catholic power at the time was Spain, of Armada...
Published on 10 Mar. 2013 by Amazon Customer

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good historical thriller - if that's all you want
This is the latest in a series of historical thrillers featuring swashbuckling anti-hero John Shakespeare, government agent and brother of the more famous Will.
It's been a resounding success in its own right, so quite why Clements' publishers keep feeling the need to compare it to CJ Sansom's towering Shardlake series is beyond me. The cover of this one features a...
Published 18 months ago by Bookwoman


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tudor Skulduggery, 10 Mar. 2013
By 
Amazon Customer "Fiona" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Nowadays it is hard to imagine the vitriolic hatred between the catholic and the protestant powers which raged in 16th century Tudor England. After all, the Tudors changed the religion of the country from Catholic to Anglican, Protestant back to Catholic and then Anglican. No wonder people were confused.

The major catholic power at the time was Spain, of Armada fame, they were irked that a mere woman would defy them and they plotted to overthrow the Tudor dynasty.

Enter John Shakespeare, elder brother of the playwright William, he works within the shady world in intelligence. Working for Sir Robert Cecil (Elizabeth's Chief Minister) he has to investigate the disappearance of a young woman who was treated brutally by the Catholic Church. Her disappearance is linked to the priests and catholic martyrs who were locked up to prevent subversion.

The author has penned 4 previous Shakespeare books and they keep getting better, the atmosphere is dark and twisted. There is a genuine fear of the Spanish invading and killing anyone who is against the re-introduction of Catholicism. Although the government ostensibly were supportive of Elizabeth they, in truth, were saving their own skins as they would fall as swiftly as the Tudor Gloriana.
The scenes I enjoyed the most, were the ones where Shakespeare meets with the Queen, not the young Virginal lass who took the throne, but the older, wiser Elizabeth who is well aware of the perils that face her. She famously stated that her greatest protection was the love of her people. Hardly true as she surrounded herself with hard-working diligent men like Cecil and the fictional Shakespeare who did the dirty deeds to keep her safe.

Any quibbles? No. I was genuinely surprised by the ending, the ultimate baddie was unmasked and I was impressed by the plot. I am a confirmed Tudor lit fan and I think Rory Clements is one of the best. I was worried that the character of John would be overshadowed by his famous sibling, but not so.

One to spend a few nights enveloped in skulduggery and menace, enjoying the twists and turns of
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Heretics-Rory Clements, 13 Feb. 2013
By 
R. Gardner "Corriebob" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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Sometimes you pick up a book that you know from the first to the last page you are going to enjoy and I found this one of them. Based around the time of William Shakespeare his brother John is an intelligencer keeping the Crown safe by using spies etc, also the Spanish are showing signs of invading the country from the south coast. It started off at a steady pace but seemed to build up slowly till so much happens after the half way mark that you have to be aware of all the characters, I found not only the pace excellent but the characters well defined as well, with some, you obviously learn more of them as the story carries on. There are a lot of people within the story and they all form an important part of the tale. I'm not going to give the story away, but, Highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good tale well written...Set in the time of William Shakespeare.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Heretics, 17 Mar. 2013
By 
Champollion (Shropshire) - See all my reviews
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"The Heretics" is the latest book by Rory Clements in his sixteenth century thriller series, featuring John Shakespeare, an 'intelligencer' who works for Sir Robert Cecil, having previously been an agent for Francis Walsingham.

It is set in the 1590's, and similar to his previous novels, involves a conspiracy, against the State, but, on this occasion, it is to assassinate Queen Elizabeth. The plotters are Catholics, involving priests who manipulate young women under the guise of exorcising their 'demons.'

The author creates a vivid and authentic Tudor landscape, and the narrative is carried along with pace as John Shakespeare hunts down his quarry. Clements books are clearly well researched and expertly structured into an engaging and compelling story.

Although, as source material, the rich mine of the world of the Tudors has been explored before, Rory Clements has a distinctive voice, and an interesting character in John Shakespeare, who has developed into a more credible, assertive and ruthless individual. Recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Plot and a Good Read, 19 April 2014
By 
J. Chippindale (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Heretics: John Shakespeare 5 (Paperback)
This is the fifth book in the John Shakespeare series, and it shows, but in a good way. I think that sometimes when the storyline reaches the fourth or fifth volume the plots and characters become stale and for want of a better word, predictable. In this series Martyr (book 1, 2009 it soon becomes obvious to the reader that the author is not only comfortable with his characters but also the period of English history in which he has placed them. I soon began to remember many of the main characters from the previous books in the series and wonder, if and when they will appear in the current story. Even welcoming the more unsavoury character of Richard Topcliffe, a thorn in the side of John Shakespeare and a man who takes great delight in the suffering of others. He will stoop to any means available to him, to bring fear into the hearts of those he pursues.

The mistrust between Protestants and Catholics in Elizabethan England shows little or no sign of abating under the rule of Elizabeth I. However Shakespeare is not interested in pursuing people for their religious beliefs alone, treason is the crime he is determined to root out.

In this book Shakespeare is taken out of his familiar London environment and sent down to Cornwall, where there have been sightings of Spanish activity off shore and even the presence of Spanish soldiers on English soil, much to the dismay of Queen Elizabeth. John Shakespeare also has some female interest in his life again and his servant and assistant Boltfoot Cooper has the worry of a sickly young son to cope with as well as aiding his master.

All in all a very enjoyable read, with a history lesson thrown in for good measure.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent historical thriller, 2 Mar. 2013
By 
Mark H (London, England) - See all my reviews
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I have read two others of his books both set in Elizabethan times and thought they may get a bit monotonous, but that is not the case. He details different aspects of that era and obviously does great research into the social, historical and rural history. In this book there are facts about the numerous exorcisms undertaken by the Catholic priests, the tortures undertaken to try and discover plots against the Queen and great descriptions of the Fens and country side of Cornwall. The author, Rory Clements, has a real talent for immersing you in the era and shedding light on a period that until recently hadn't really been explored by dramatic literature. I for one find Clements' books pull off that tricky mix of being both informative and entertaining very successfully.

To give a bit of the general plot of the book, the hero John Shakespeare, the Queen's intelligencer and chief spy of Sir Robert Cecil , travels around the country trying to uncover a Spanish plot to assassinate Elizabeth. He doesn't know whether the root of this are in Seville or very close to the Queen. He has his suspicions, but every time he and his assistant Boltfoot Cooper seem near to solving the plot, the informants die before they can get the information. Their families are threatened and they also nearly lose their lives. The Spanish attack Cornish villages and Shakespeare wonders if this is the start of another invasion. As you can gather, this is a novel with plenty of pace and energy and given the obvious research put into the background to this book it really feels believable and all the more exciting.

This is a gripping tale and I can't wait to read his next book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best yet, 12 Feb. 2013
By 
Andy Edwards "staxasoul" (Essex UK) - See all my reviews
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While he has yet to produce the consistency of the Shardlake series, Clements has at last produced a book which deserves the comparison the publishers have been so deperate to make.

Previous books have had too many serious flaws, from unlikely coincidences to ponderous storylines via stereotypical characters. With The Heretics, Clements has included enough of the familiar, but with a compelling storyline which flows across England fom East Anglia to the West Country and which is paced to allow the plotline just enough Elizabethan detail without overwhelming the reader. The atmosphere of the times is well conveyed and the characters avoid the stereotype pitfall which marred previous books. Here you will find plotters, traitors, religious extremists, treacherous allies....and bit of sex to enliven proceedings.

Will Shakespeare appears (again) to aid his ficticious brother, although I am still at a loss as to why Clements needed to invent a brother for the Bard. Otherwise, this is a terrific book, which I wholeheartedly reccomend to anyone interested in period fiction.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast Moving and Absorbing Historical Novel, 29 April 2013
By 
Brett H (Brighton) - See all my reviews
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This is the fifth novel in the John Shakespeare series set in the reign of Elizabeth I. Although I had not read the preceding four, this did not prove to be a problem. They are all standalone mysteries/Whodunits.

John Shakespeare (yes, the brother of the famous William) is an intelligencer working for Sir Robert Cecil. He has a network of spies who report to him on matters pertaining to the safety of Her Majesty and the realm. Slowly these spies are killed one by one and Shakespeare suspects a plot. John also has his personal problems. Father Southwell, an old friend, is facing execution for treason and he makes a final request to Shakespeare that he find a young girl, Tomasyn Jade, who Catholic priests performed an exorcism on in 1586. Southwell witnessed its effects on her and was much affected himself and wanted to help her. However, he was unable to do so and her memory now torments him as he faces death. His family have put money aside to help the girl.

Soon Shakespeare is seeking another young girl, Beatrice Eastley, who has disappeared from the household of the Countess of Kent. Shakespeare finds love and loses it again whilst unmasking a plot against the Queen. It's certainly all action!

This is a really fast moving, rip roaring tale. It is well written and the characterisation is marvellous from Shakespeare himself and his famous brother to Good Queen Bess and the giggling ladies of her court. If you enjoy mysteries and also well written historical fiction you will love The Heretic. It has certainly inspired me to seek out and read the other four in this series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Heretics, 9 Feb. 2013
By 
Robert Archer - See all my reviews
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Rory Clements new book `The Heretics` continues the adventures of John Shakespeare, Brother of William, as he fights against heresy and treason in Elizabethan England. As such it doesn`t disappoint as the story moves from London the Fens, to the West Country and back to London. On the way we meet some familiar faces whose presence gives a strong background and feeling of inclusiveness to regular readers. Wherever he goes and whoever he meets treachery is the watchword. There are criminals of all kinds and John is forced to question everyone`s motives and trust worthiness.
This story is set after the Armada but when England and the Queen are at risk from the Spanish without and Catholic recusants within. Initially asked to find a missing woman John is quickly embroiled in the plot to assassinate Her Majesty. The plot moves quickly and convincingly with lots of twists and turns. There is even time or John to begin a relationship with a beautiful lady. Even here though he is forced to question the lady`s true motives and the affair is left unresolved. However the daliiance does serve to give some relief from the sometime gory and horriying nature of John`s quest. The story does not hold back on the vicious, bloody nature of the fight. Though a historical thriller the author never forgets the story. Its difficult to not say too much when revelation is so much the enjoyment of the book.
Though part of a series the book could ewasily be read and enjoyed as a stand alone. However more will be gained by those who have read the earlier novels concerning John Shakespeare. The Heretics would certainly prompt me to go and get the earlier novels. Once again the author has produced a cracking good read set within a realistic historical setting.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Cracking John Shakespeare Novel from Clements!, 27 Jan. 2013
By 
Uncle Barbar (Essex, England) - See all my reviews
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With over 6 weeks to go before its official release I was offered a chance to read an "uncorrected Proof Copy" of Heretics by the Amazon Vine Programme and, having read Clements earlier 4 novels on the exploits of John Shakespeare, I obviously jumped at the chance!

Now that I have finished it and have a chance to review it I thought I would give you my thoughts on John Shakespeare's 5th tale (without giving too much away)!

John, as usual, goes travelling out in the country attempting to find out about the latest diabolical plot to kill the queen - but he is unsure whether this one has been started in Spain or closer to home - Wisbech in Cambridgeshire or even closer to the Queen's court? He travels to Wisbech to visit the incarcerated monks there to question them and has a rather torrid journey there, he meets a Dutch man who helps him on his way. It is a vivid picture of what life was like in the wilds of the fens.

He travels to Buckinghamshire where earlier in Elizabeth's reign some rather horrific exorcisms took place by some Catholic clergy and he goes to Cornwall in search of a girl, to meet a woman (the romantic element of this book) and perhaps to thwart a Spanish invasion?

I cannot say anymore or I would give the plot away. Cecil's spy ring is shaken to the core by this book.

There are some strong willed ladies - not just in John Shakespeare's own household but also as part of the Queen's household. And of course the ever-faithful Boltfoot Cooper carries out the orders of John throughout.

John's brother Will does not have a very large part in this novel - although his players both ex and current do feature somewhat.

My only slight criticism - and it is small - is that you can tell that some characters have vital information for Shakespeare to solve the case and one by one as he gets close to hearing their tale they get killed off - to lose one informer is forgivable but to lose a few on the trot seems like carelessness!

All in all a great novel - for me definitely un-putdownable - I really didn't want it to finish.

And some more great news is written on the back jacket "A TV series based on the books is currently in development" - all I can say is Hurrah - I cannot wait and I hope they do it justice!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another intriguing outing for John Shakespeare, 7 Mar. 2013
By 
I Readalot (UK) - See all my reviews
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'The Heretics' is another intriguing, fast paced and well researched novel from Rory Clements. I wasn't surprised to read that he spent years researching and planning before beginning the writing. He doesn't pull any punches with regard to the brutality, but then the Elizabethan era was a very brutal time where Christians persecuted each other simply because they disagreed on the right way to worship the same God. Clements has rather been in the shadow of C J Sansom, but the fact that the 'Shakespeare' series is to be made into a TV series may redress the balance.
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The Heretics: John Shakespeare 5
The Heretics: John Shakespeare 5 by Rory Clements (Paperback - 13 Feb. 2014)
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