Elizabeth Redfern works literary alchemy in a novel that seamlessly incorporates the best of historical fiction, romance, and intrigue.
Elizabeth Redfern's storytelling powers have also been compared to le Carré and Dickens, Thomas Harris and Iain Pears. Now she presents her new novel, set in 1609 London and centering on the furious quest to turn lead into gold.
Since the night that young Ned Warriner set upon the guards escorting a Catholic prisoner to the Tower of London, allowing the accused spy to escape a brutal death, he has been in self-imposed exile, supporting himself as a mercenary soldier in the bloody battles between the Dutch and the Spanish. Now, in spite of the danger, he has returned to his native land, where the woman he left behind, his beloved Kate Revill, has married a Catholic-hunter. It is not a happy marriage, and Kate, like Ned, still yearns for the passion they once shared. But discovery would risk both their lives.
Disreputable in appearance, and still wanted for his crime, Warriner makes his way about the city by penning poems or cheating cheaters in late-night pub games. But to win his freedom and safety for good, he must respond to an earl's blackmail and kill a member of the King's court. One thing, though, could change his dire circumstances: the letter he possesses, ad-dressed to "Auriel," stuffed in the pages of a leatherbound book, won with dice and nearly forgotten. It may contain what many in London are buzzing about: the secret of the Philosopher's Stone, the method for making gold. Even if it is a hoax, it may change his destiny as well, for those who know its whereabouts would gladly kill for it.
Journeying to a fascinating era in history and painting an atmosphere rich in detail, Elizabeth Redfern brings us a masterful work of period suspense.
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In 1609 London, King James I wants peace with Spain while his son and heir Prince Henry, a staunch anti-papist wants England freed of Catholics. After helping the Dutch fight the Spanish in the Low Countries, Ned Warriner returns to England to see the now married Kate Pelham, the only woman he ever loved. During his first week back in the country, he wins a letter in a dice game that he later finds out is written by the dead alchemist Edward Dee. The letter is a formula to create the Philosopher¿s Stone, which many people believe will turn any substance into gold. Whomever Ned talks to about the letter winds up murdered by a group of men who have the protection of someone powerful. Ned tries, for reasons unknown even to him, to create the Philosopher¿s Stone. He also deals with enemies who want nothing more than to see him dead for the knowledge he has in his possession about plots, gun shipments and gold making its way into the prince¿s coffers. Cross Caleb Carr¿s THE ALIENIST with any work of Charles Dickens and one will have a feel for the historical mystery AURIEL RISING. The protagonist is a good man who finds himself in dangerous situations but is willing to pursue that course even though it might mean his life or his freedom. Elizabeth Redfern captures the mood of England less than a decade after the death of Elizabeth I adding background depth to a one-of-a-kind fascinating reading experience. Harriet Klausner