Martyr: John Shakespeare 1 Paperback – 14 Jan 2016
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This is a historical thriller to send a shiver down your spine. (Daily Mail)
Clements can be seen as doing for Elizabeth's reign what CJ Sansom does for Henry VIII's. (Sunday Times)
John Shakespeare is one of the great historical sleuths. (Barry Forshaw)
A colourful history lesson ... exciting narrative twists. (Sunday Telegraph)
An engrossing thriller. (Washington Post)
For fans of CJ Sansom and SJ Parris, MARTYR is the first in Rory Clements' acclaimed and bestselling John Shakespeare series of Tudor spy thrillers. Clements, winner of the Ellis Peters Historical Fiction Award, 'does for Elizabeth's reign what CJ Sansom does for Henry VIII's' Sunday TimesSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The plot and sense of time and place are excellent, and Clements delights in the gruesome, as Shakespeare pursues his serial killer/assasin, all the time trying to stay one step ahead of his rival, Richard Topville. And therein lies a problem, why create a brother for William Shakespeare, when everything else was so historically accurate? Was it merely to facilitate one unlikely setpiece late in the book, because I could see no real need for it. There are a couple of other out of place elements, which I won't specify as to do so would spoil the atory if you want to read it, but suffice to say that they appear out of place for the 16th Century.
I also felt that the ending of the book left much to be desired - there seemed to be a few false starts, as if the author wanted to bring things to a climax, but the publisher neede more, so he strung things out for 50 or so more pages. The result was several loose ends, obviously to allow for a sequel or two, and a highly manufactured resolution to Shakespeare's domestic arrangements and his love life, the latter, an aspect of his character which never seemed quite convincing.
So if this is the start of a series, it is one which will probably prosper, but the writing needs to be sharper, the plot a little pacier and the characters given more depth.
I drew the immediate comparison with C J Sansom's Shardlake novels even before I started reading this. It's got a suitably convoluted plot, involves real people from history and uses real events as a backdrop. It's quite gruesome, but very exciting, quite amusing in places, and has lots of twists and turns. I particularly liked that it didn't end up the way I thought it was going to, which was a nice surprise. I also liked that it was written in third person. Sansom uses the first person and, as a result, he has had to come up with more and more, to be frank, ludicrous ways to get Shardlake into the situations he needs to in order to progress the story (Heartstone was particularly guilty of this). Clements, on the other hand, switches between characters, settings and events as the story requires, and it makes it fast-paced and full of suspense without tipping the balance and taking you out of the experience. In fact, in his hands, 16th century London is a scary place indeed.
For a debut novel this is top stuff. I'll definitely be checking out more of John Shakespeare's adventures.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
John Shakespear ecomes across as a bit of a wimp and not a character i could warm to..Published 23 days ago by Denis Seddon
This series was recommended to me . I admit it took me a few chapters before I was really drawn in. However, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Read morePublished 27 days ago by Amazon Customer
Have just purchased the whole series. Loved the Shardlake series and the Giordano Bruno very similarPublished 1 month ago by Miss D J B
I will have now read all 'John Shakespeare' books, mostly in the wrong order and enjoyed every one of them. Will Rory Clements write any more?Published 2 months ago by Freddie
I enjoyed the story, but I am an avid reader of books set in the Tudor period, and this was too much like an author I read already. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Jo