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on 27 February 2014
This is the 6th outing of Rory Clements intelligencer John Shakespeare and for me he is back to his sizzling best,after four cracking outings I found that Heretices was a little bit flat and lost it direction,so I was looking for a return to form with the Queen's Man and I am glad to report he is back on track with this cracking plot full of twists and turns right up to the last page.The Queen's Man takes us back and introduces us to John Shakespeare as a young intelligencer on his first major mission for Sir Francis Walsingham. It is 1582 and the conflict between Protestant and Catholic threatens to tear the country in two.While Queen Elizabeth 1 holds the reins of power,there are those whose loyalty lies with her imprisoned cousin Mary Queen of Scots. Order to discover a conspiracy to free the Stuart Queen from Sheffield Castle,all to soon Shakespeare realises that the tentacles of the plot reach deep into his native Warwickshire and threaten his own friends and family-above all his beloved younger brother,Will. Once again Rory Clements had me page turning into the early hours of the morning with this cracking tale of John Shakespeare intelligencer for Sir Francis Walsingham.
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I am a fan of the author and I am always on the look-out for his latest book but this one was a bit of a surprise, though none the less welcome. The book is set at a time when the main character John Shakespeare (yes the older brother of William) has first been recruited by Sir Francis Walsingham in the hope that he, Walsingham, can mould Shakespeare into a future spymaster for Elizabeth I.

It is a little strange after having read the other books in the series Martyr (John Shakespeare, Book 1) to be taken back by the author to virtually the start of his original storyline. In fact to a time when Shakespeare has little or no experience of the role he is being groomed for by Walsingham. Perhaps it is because the current book in the series, "The Heretics" (John Shakespeare 5) is bringing the reader towards the end of Elizabeth I reign and he saw this as a way to extend the life of the plots. Whatever Clements reasons the book certainly does not suffer because of the step back in time.

Shakespeare is given the task of uncovering a plot to free Mary Queen of Scots. It is 1582 and Mary is still a thorn in the side of Elizabeth. Although under guard at Sheffield Castle, moves are afoot to free the Queen of Scots and her mere presence is fomenting religious disharmony between Protestants and Catholics in Elizabethan England.

The book moves along at a pace and certainly does no favours as regards the character and appearance of the Scots Queen . Whether this is historically correct I am not sure. Maybe she is portrayed in this way to sway the reader onto the side of Shakespeare and his attempts to foil the people trying to free Mary.

For followers of Rory Clements books, this is as good as any of them and is a stand alone work. For first time readers of the author, this book can be read before others in the series without spoiling the reading of other titles at a later date.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 27 February 2014
British author Rory Clements has returned with his fifth in his "John Shakespeare" series, "The Queen's Man". However, inexplicably, the novel is actually first in sense of time. For everyone who's read the adventures of John Shakespeare, the "intelligencer" to Francis Walsingham, here's the back story. It also includes more about brother Will than have any of the previous books.

Rory Clements has placed this Shakespeare novel in the early 1580's, when the queen, Elizabeth I, was trying to maneuver her country's way to worship the "new faith" - Protestantism, Church of England, Anglican - no matter what it was referred to, it was not the "old faith", that of the Roman Catholic Church. The Queen was beset by low-grade but constant problems both at home and abroad and she employed Sir Francis Walsingham as her "spymaster". He, in turn, employed "intelligencers" to do his bidding in trying to discern plots against the crown. One such man was "John Shakespeare", a character Rory Clements has made up, and has taken his readers on adventures in his previous book. (William Shakespeare did not have an older brother called "John", at least according to the bio on Wikipedia, but his father was "John Shakespeare".)

In "Queen's Man", Walsingham - who is always stingy with information his "intelligencer" SHOULD know before sending them on their way - is concerned with the presence of Mary, Queen of Scots, who is imprisoned in a castle in England. She is guarded - supposedly well - but there is a question of plots by the French and some home-grown Catholics, to free her and send her to France. Walsingham wants to ferret out the truth and the names of the conspirators. He's also interested in finding out the extent of "recusancy" in the Stratford area. "Recusancy" was the state of those who refused to attend Anglican services and were considered "Popish recusants". Poor John Shakespeare is sent off to investigate this all, and eventually, by book's end, most of the loose ends are tied up in a very satisfactory fashion. (Except, of course, for those murdered in heinous ways).

Rory Clements' novels can almost be considered history texts. The reader learns so much about court politics, national politics, social issues, methods of war, etc, of the 1580's and 1590's, that we are educated by his work. This book, "The Queen's Man", is such a good book and would be the best way for a first-time Rory Clements reader to begin begin looking at Elizabethan England.
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on 6 July 2014
In this new book Mr Clements fills the gaps regarding the early years (1582-3) of John Shakespeare activities as a spy under Sir Francis Walsingham. The book has different interestingly twinned plots. The main one is the failed plan to free Mary, Queen of Scots from her captivity in Sheffield Castle under George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury. Other plots go in parallel and make the book reading more and more thrilling through the pages. Mr Clements gives us a very good glimpse of the Shakespeare family activities and its connections with other Strafford families. It also offers a wonderful description of the younger son, the playwright William Shakespeare, courtship and wedding to Ann Hathaway. In addition Mr Clements gives us a sound description of the Catholic recusant families (Ardens, Throckmortons, Catesbys) life and activities in XVI century Warwickshire, and the extremely difficult walk between Faith and treason they were pushed to thread. Please do not miss the scholarly historical notes added at the end, and the impressive Spiritual Testament of John Shakespeare, father of the Bard. This book accentuates even more my Clements addiction and makes me urge the author for a quick delivery of the next book of these wonderful Shakespeare episodes.
Dr. Victor Asensi
Oviedo, Spain
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on 8 September 2015
Sorry, but have I missed something significant ? after reading all the 5 star reviews, I was expecting at least CJ Sansom standard. A plot filled with suspense, action, twists and turns, great characters. Instead I got a group of boring characters, a predictable storyline, hardly any action set against events that I couldn't give a flying whistle about. I bought this book to go with the chronological order of the series. However, if this latest book is an indication of the earlier novels, I think I shall do a wide detour around John Shakespear's adventures. I found it amusing that on at least five occasions, John "puts his hand on the pummel of his sword" or "draws his sword halfway", the author just did not want to involve his heroe in a duel or a sword fight. In CJ Sansom's books, the reader can feel the climate of 16th Century England, every detail is brilliantly described. Whereas Clements does little to take the reader back to Elizabethan England. And so to make comparisons between CJ Sansom and Rory Clement is rather inappropriate.
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VINE VOICEon 30 April 2016
This is a prequel novel to the series featuring intelligencer John Shakespeare, fictional brother to the playwright. This starts from his youth in the early 1580s when he first comes to the attention of spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham and first makes the acquaintance of the sadistic heresy hunter Topcliffe. I enjoyed this more than the novels covering his later life - John comes across as a more human figure, caught on the horns of the dilemma between loyalty to his Queen and country and the Catholic sympathies of many members of his extended family, the Ardens (his mother's side). His assistant Boltfoot Cooper also came across as a more substantial and deeper character. Last but not least, William himself gets much more of a role here (he is very much in the background where he appears at all in the later novels), here at the point in his early life where he falls in love at the age of 18 with the 26 year old Anne Hathaway. Enjoyable stuff, if rather predictable, having read four of the later novels.
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Bought this for my wife as she is a keen Elizabethan era fan. She enthused so much that I read it myself.
Good strong storyline, good strong characters, an interesting easy read.
Well recommended to lovers of historical fiction.
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on 9 February 2015
I am quite set in my reading habits and had never heard of Rory Clements. I am so glad that I have discovered him. The Queen's Man is very enjoyable. Mr Clements certainly knows how to create the atmosphere of Tudor England, the sights, sounds, smells. It's all there. This book is the start of how John Shakespeare becomes one of Francis Walsingham's intelligencers. Anyone who knows anything about Tudor history will know that Walsingham had a fearsome reputation as a spymaster. He had a vast network of spies to uncover plots and sedition against the Crown. In this book John Shakespeare is sent to root out traitors who are trying to oust Elizabeth I off the throne in order to put her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, who in political speak is her "dear cousin and guest in England" but who in reality is her prisoner. His mission takes him to his own home in Stratford on Avon and to his dismay he discovers that his own dear family in the shape of his brother, Will Shakespeare and his fiancé, Anne Hathaway are unwittingly embroiled in one of the plots. Along the way, he also has a troublesome journey in which he is not sure whom he can trust. A number of families with Catholic sympathies are involved, some of whom are his own cousins from his mother's side. Highly recommended read. If you like Tudor history, you will enjoy the book.
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VINE VOICEon 2 May 2015
This is the sixth book in the series but is number one in the story of John Shakespeare an intelligencer working for Sir Francis Walsingham who is Queen Elizabeth's head of her secret service . You can read these books in any order as the author skips from one point of time to another so really there is no point trying to read in order like a long story . Others have gone into great detail of the book almost telling the whole story . Therefore I will just say that I enjoy these books and this is a great read and I recommend it .
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on 15 March 2014
I really don't know how Rory Clements does it, producing each time a book which is impossible to put down. I love the way history is weaved into what is a complex murder (or murders) mystery, with useful references at the back. Let's face it, if there were more works like this for each period, history would be the most popular subject at school.
I suppose most of us hesitate in reading a prequel but trust me, you will not be disappointed!
I got this on my Kindle, so I got it as quickly as possible, but there were problems with the Kindle text, words and sentences wrongly spaced which was ever so slightly annoying and nothing to do with Rory Clements
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