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Mistress of the Sea by Jenny Barden-An Intelligent Historical Adventure
on 22 October 2012
From the very first image on page one of Mistress of the Sea I knew that I would love the writing in this Elizabethan adventure. 'The chill was enough to hurry everything along, as if the season was already sliding over ice.' We are off and moving back into Elizabethan England in the period of Shakespeare, Drake and Raleigh. This novel is suffused with constant movement. From the shores of Devon to the New World the reader travels with Sir Francis Drake, the sea rolling the ships, the sails catching the wind, to Spanish forts on the rim of the Caribbean, to islands and forests inhabited by the Cimaroons. We voyage with Will a strong and attractive seafaring hero and, importantly, Ellyn an adventurous and very courageous heroine, a merchant's daughter betrothed, of course, to another. Ellyn, concerned for her father heads for the New World on Drake's galleon. The mistress of the sea is more than a little in love with Will and, disguised, Ellyn sets sail for the New World with a crew who are determined to captured Spanish gold. Will, however, has another quest and Ellyn's fate is determined by this, by Drake's ruthlessness and by her devotion to her difficult but likeable father. Mistress of the Sea is a beautiful novel, refreshing after so many stories of the queens of this period. This book has the feel of adventure, the smell of the ocean, is pacy and moreover is superbly researched and carefully written with attention to small fascinating details. Every eloquent chapter has a tiny paratext extracted from literature of this era, the language is accessible, the characters engaging and most of all we, the readers, want to turn the pages.