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Firedrake's Eye
     

Firedrake's Eye

5.0 1
by Patricia Finney
 

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Brilliantly written in language eerily reminiscent of sixteenth-century England and filled with the dazzling color and drama of Tudor England, Firedrake's Eye concerns a meticulously constructed plot to kill Queen Elizabeth I. Tom O'Bedlam, the mad son of prominent Catholic family, stumbles upon evidence that his hated brother has returned to England to

Overview

Brilliantly written in language eerily reminiscent of sixteenth-century England and filled with the dazzling color and drama of Tudor England, Firedrake's Eye concerns a meticulously constructed plot to kill Queen Elizabeth I. Tom O'Bedlam, the mad son of prominent Catholic family, stumbles upon evidence that his hated brother has returned to England to spearhead a scheme to assassinate the Queen.

Patricia Finney transports the reader back in time to the dirty, dangerous underbelly of 1583 London. Combining accurate and detailed historical research with story-telling of an unusually high caliber, Firedrake's Eye brilliantly evokes that danger and treachery of Tudor politics.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The le Carre of the sixteenth century...Her work is as subtle, as complex, and as beautifully crafted as his." —Ruth Rendell

"Firedrake's Eye...is a rich and rewarding novel." —The Washington Post Book World

"Patricia Finney...evokes the sights, sounds, and smells of Elizabethan England with remarkable fidelity." —Philadelphia Inquirer

"As engaging and inventive as any modern spy novel." —San Francisco Examiner Chronicle

"Finney spins a magical and mysterious web...this is a wonderfully atmospheric rendering of an anarchist plot brimming over with vivid details of intrigue." —Booklist

"Historical fiction in the same league as Rose Tremain's Restoration and Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose." —Cosmopolitan

"Set in Elizabethan England, it sensuously reconstructs the era's visual pomp and splendor...Historical and wholly invented figures mix easily, a tribute to the author's careful research and panoramic vision." —Publishers Weekly

Allison Heisch
Although her made-up people are marvelous...her depictions of major historical figures such as Walsingham reveal a remarkable grasp of complex political issues important to the period and vital to the events that drive her plots, and this dimension of Finney's work is one of the reasons why the novels are so exceptional. -- Women's Review of Books
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Forget the publisher's misleading comparisons to the intellectual teasers Possession and The Name of the Rose and enjoy this highly colored historical novel on its own merits. Set in Elizabethan England, it sensuously reconstructs the era's visual pomp and splendor as well as the fetid odors and pervasive damp chill of a London winter. Finney ( A Shadow of Gulls ) endows her players with a rich language--essentially modern English lightly laced with fanciful syntax and Elizabethan vocabulary. The plot, in which members of Elizabeth's secret service ferret out would-be assassins of the Virgin Queen, is heavy with coincidence and short on actual sleuthing. These flaws, however, are camouflaged by an exotic, convincing cast of characters, among them a madman; Portuguese Jews who have found refuge behind the English throne; physicians; courtiers; teachers of swordplay; traitors and pretenders. Historical and wholly invented figures mix easily, a tribute to the author's careful research and panoramic vision. 40,000 first printing. (June)
Library Journal
In the fall of 1583, Elizabeth Tudor has been queen of England for 25 years and the target of plots to restore Catholic rule to England for about the same length of time. Tom O'Bedlam, the mad son of a prominent Catholic family, narrates this tale of one such attempt. Roaming the London streets, Tom sees the threads of an assassination plot slowly woven into an ever-tightening net by his own hated brother, a fanatical Catholic. Will Tom be able to aid those trying to destroy the conspiracy? The answer provides a suspenseful, absorbing read. Finney's ( A Shadow of Gulls , LJ 8/77) prose has a wonderful rhythm reminiscent of another age; she evokes time and place with a sure touch. The beauty of her language lifts this marvelous novel of history and political intrigue far above the ordinary. Highly recommended for any fiction collection.--Dean James, Houston Acad. of Medicine/Texas Medical Ctr. Lib.
Kirkus Reviews
By the author of two superior adventures set in Roman Britain (A Shadow of Gulls, 1977; The Crow Goddess, 1979), a splendid Elizabethan cat-and-mouse, spy-and-chase tale based on real events of 1583, and featuring dazzling, death-teasing principals surrounding a Spanish plot to assassinate Elizabeth I. Spies and counterspies, warriors, poets and poet madmen, pawns and populace—all speak here in a diction remarkably echoing with the flavor of an earlier English—gamy, efficient, unobtrusive, unblemished by sprinklings of "i` faith" or other cribbings from the Bard. Sir Francis Walsingham, the Queen's chief of her secret service, directs from his chambers the latest chase of plotters against the Queen. The Mundus Papyri (world of paper) is what Walsingham dubs the blizzard of clues from purloined letters and bits and scraps of information. Meanwhile, in seedy London digs, Becket—penniless, a veteran of wars—feeds his pet rat, while roaming and discoursing with angels is a former schoolmate in law, mad Ralph Strangways ("Poor Tom"), whose brother Adam sent him to Bedlam to suffer. Brother Adam is about to perform the holy duty of killing that "pure white hind," Elizabeth I, by aiming through the eye of a parade dragon. Then worrying, gut-gripping, in the two worlds of paper and swords and daggers, is brilliant cryptographer and clerk to Walsingham, Simon Ames, a Portuguese Jew who will track down the chief traitor, witness horror in the Tower, comfort a dying woman, and be the target of several murder attempts involving his new friend Becket, the noble soul of less than noble activities. Inevitably, however, the firedrake (dragon) will move to the Queen.... Finney'sbrainy sleuths race like whippets toward the prey, while tossing up more turmoil, deaths, and betrayal beside a treacherous Thames, although here and there are times of quiet love, companionship, and slap-up humor. In all: just fine. (And there's an invaluable list of characters with real personages starred.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312180942
Publisher:
Picador
Publication date:
01/15/1998
Edition description:
REV
Pages:
249
Product dimensions:
6.14(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.65(d)

Meet the Author

Patricia Finney attended Oxford, where she read history. Her first novel, A Shadow of Gulls, won the prestigious David Higham Award. She is also the author of Unicorn's Blood. Ms. Finney lives in England.

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Firedrakes Eye 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this a rather difficult book to get into. It was really confusing at the start. But if you find a quiet time where you can concentrate on it, it's worth the initial effort. Once I got my bearings, I was completely sucked in; by the end, I found myself really emotionally involved. (As in, so strongly attached to certain characters that their fates made me weep) The beautiful language, the strong characters, the interesting plot (although I figured out the 'mystery' rather quickly, it was suspenseful whether the characters would solve it in time...!), and the (to me, not at all a historian) rich and convincing historical setting were all thoroughly enjoyable. I'm so glad I read this.