Dangerous Times (Nathan Fox Series #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?
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
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)
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
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews
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.