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Dangerous Times (Nathan Fox Series #1)

Dangerous Times (Nathan Fox Series #1)

5.0 1
by L. Brittney

Sir Francis Walsingham, England’s spymaster general, has eyes and ears all over the world. His secret service protects Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth—and ensures the might of all of England. Now he has a new recruit. Fourteen-year-old Nathan Fox is an actor in the same company as young Will Shakespeare. His life in the theatre has taught him a thing or


Sir Francis Walsingham, England’s spymaster general, has eyes and ears all over the world. His secret service protects Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth—and ensures the might of all of England. Now he has a new recruit. Fourteen-year-old Nathan Fox is an actor in the same company as young Will Shakespeare. His life in the theatre has taught him a thing or two about disguises and deception. But nothing can prepare Nathan for the shadowy world he’s about to enter now.

Nathan is trained in swordplay and streetfighting, codebreaking and escapes. Then he’s paired with fearless spy John Pearce for his first mission: a journey to Venice to forge an alliance against the powerful King of Spain.

Posing as master and servant, Nathan and Pearce move smoothly through Venetian society . . . until they cross paths with the great General Othello. Soon they become entangled in his tragic love affair with a young noblewoman, Desdemona.

Nathan’s new life holds more action and more drama than he ever saw on a stage. But will he ever survive to tell Will Shakespeare this tale?

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Nancy K. Wallace
Nathan Fox, a thirteen-year-old orphan and actor in the Burbage Company, shares the stage with rising star Will Shakespeare. Nathan's athletic skill and agility not only make him successful in the theater but also draw the attention of Sir Francis Walsingham, spymaster general to Queen Elizabeth I. Walsingham recruits Nathan into the sixteenth-century world of espionage, partnering him with master-spy John Pearce. Against his sister Marie's wishes, Nathan departs for London to be schooled in the arts of self-defense and spying. His first mission takes him to Venice where he is immediately embroiled in the intrigues of Venetian politics. He meets Othello, a Moorish general, and his consort, Desdemona, only to be an eyewitness to the tragic end of their love affair. Returning to England, Nathan recounts the heartbreaking tale to Shakespeare who immediately records it. In a strange combination of Alex Rider and Wishbone, historic details interweave with legend to produce a fictionalized inspiration for Shakespeare's tragedy, Othello. Although the espionage angle is entertaining, the Shakespearean connection seems contrived and heavy handed. The plot falls inexorably in line to allow Nathan firsthand knowledge of the intimate details of Othello's downfall. Nathan's youthful inexperience leads him into several dangerous situations, but the action remains somewhat distant and restrained. This historical caper may appeal more to middle schoolers. Despite attractive cover art, older teens searching for an action series might find it a bit tame. Reviewer: Nancy K. Wallace
KLIATT - Claire Rosser
This historial suspense novel, out of England, is special, and looks to be the first in a series. The setting is Elizabethan England, and young Nathan Fox is an actor who works with the likes of Will Shakespeare. Because of his many talents, he is recruited by the Queen's spymaster, the all-powerful Sir Francis Walsingham. With a more experienced spy, Nathan poses as a servant boy on a journey to Venice, where they will try their best to get the Venetians to help England against the threatening King of Spain. Will Shakespeare asks Nathan to keep his eyes open for a good story to tell him once he returns to England. Nathan is in the thick of much action in the Eastern Mediterranean, accompanying the Venetian general Othello on the way to gaining back Cyprus for the Venetians. Othello practically kidnaps his young love, Desdemona, to marry her in Crete. Othello's closest aide is of course the devious, lying Iago. Nathan witnesses much of the story we know already, and it's fascinating to learn about it from his perspective. There is no question that it is cleverly written by Brittney, and we look forward to more tales about Nathan. The descriptions of the sea travel and warfare, the difficult training with daggers, swords and secret codes, the erratic behavior by the slowly going mad Othello—everything adds up to a wonderful historical thriller for YAs. Reviewer: Claire Rosser
School Library Journal

Gr 6-9

Nathan Fox, orphaned gypsy and actor extraordinaire is recruited by England's spymaster general, Sir Francis Walsingham, to enter the service of Queen Elizabeth I. The 13-year-old is to accompany seasoned agent and ladies' man John Pearce on a mission to Venice in order to form an alliance with Italy against Spain. Nathan soon learns that his older sister, Marie, is a spy, as is his friend Will Shakespeare. Set in 1587, this novel covers a largely undocumented period in Shakespeare's life, allowing Brittney plenty of leeway to develop a story that places the boy in the position of intelligence gatherer for the playwright as well. Nathan is first sent for training in the art of defense. This portion of the plot, though necessary, drags a bit and may have readers jumping ahead to the "real action." Then John, Marie, and Nathan, under assumed identities, set off to Venice to meet, among others, general Othello and Desdemona. Through the interplay of the characters, readers are treated to a rich telling of the story of Othello. The author masterfully creates and sustains a mood of suspense and intrigue through the use of action and dialogue and builds strong characters. Nathan grows from a boy actor into a man as he witnesses firsthand the horrors of war and becomes embroiled in betrayal and murder plots. Brittney also brings to the surface relevant issues of gang violence, religious persecution, and discrimination. As the subtitle foretells, this is Nathan Fox's first mission, so readers can look forward to further adventures.-Wendy Scalfaro, G. Ray Bodley High School Library, Fulton, NY

Kirkus Reviews

A lackluster historical novel whose first 100 pages are taken up entirely in exposition and scene-setting. Nathan Fox is a boy in Shakespeare's troupe; he is an acrobat and a juggler and knows several languages. He catches the eye of John Pearce, in the service of Sir Francis Walsingham, spymaster to the Queen, who sees to his training in weapons and coded messages. His sister Marie, skilled in Roma healing (the text renders it "gypsy"), also accompanies Pearce as they make their way to Venice, then Crete, to win allies against Spain and intelligence for the crown. In Venice Nathan (now called Marco and disguised as Pearce/Cassio's servant) meets the noble Captain Othello. The conceit is that Nathan is to return to tell Will Shakespeare of the wonders he has seen, the sad story of Othello having played itself out with Nathan/Marco as horrified witness. The language is pedestrian and often awkward, with little character development and much description. Young readers who persevere might be interested enough to read the coming sequels. (Historical fiction. 9-14)

Product Details

Feiwel & Friends
Publication date:
Nathan Fox Series , #1
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)
850L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

Nathan heard Bardolph’s footsteps disappearing. He wanted to take some deep breaths for courage but the smell was so bad that he could barely bring himself to inhale. How many poor wretches had met their deaths in holes like this? Reluctantly he felt the walls around him. The bricks were damp and smooth and the mortar between them was slightly crumbly from the permanent moisture. Nathan racked his brains for a solution to his predicament. They know that there is a way to escape, or they wouldn’t have put me down here. He felt all around the walls to get an idea of the structure’s size. Could there be a secret passage or some hidden footholds in the walls? No, that would be too easy. He traced the walls with his fingers, like a trapped rat, his mind turning and turning. Suddenly he smiled as a solution came to him. Of course! The boots. I can use the daggers!

Meet the Author

L.Brittney is a former drama and theatre teacher. She has also taught Creative Writing at the University of Kent. The Nathan Fox books combine her love for both history and theatre. She lives in Axminster, Devon, where she is now a full-time writer. This is her first novel for children, (published January 2007 by Macmillan Children’s Books).

To explore the world of Nathan Fox, visit www.nathanfox-dangeroustimes.co.uk

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Dangerous Times (Nathan Fox Series #1) 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow! What an awesome book! I don't normally do historical fiction but I'm glad I did. This book is better than all the spy books I've ever read because it's set right at the beginning of England's Secret Service and there are no stupid gadgets. Nathan and his partner, John Pearce get involved in loads of real action. All the descriptions of swordfighting, battles and fights are just so well done that the reader can actually see the action. The plot is just brilliant. Nathan's training, at the School of Defence run by hardened soldiers is just ace. And this book has the greatest, goriest sea battle in it. It's got to be made into a film! Can't wait for the next book by this writer. L.Brittney you have me hooked.