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The Serpent's Mark

av S. W. Perry

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygDiskussioner
443582,695 (3.54)Ingen/inga
"Treason sleeps for no man... London, 1591. Nicholas Shelby, physician and reluctant spy, returns to his old haunts on London's lawless Bankside. But, when the queen's spymaster Robert Cecil asks him to investigate the dubious practices of a mysterious doctor from Switzerland, Nicholas is soon embroiled in a conspiracy that threatens not just the life of an innocent young patient, but the overthrow of Queen Elizabeth herself. With fellow healer and mistress of the Jackdaw tavern, Bianca Merton, again at his side, Nicholas is drawn into a dangerous world of zealots, charlatans and fanatics. As their own lives become increasingly at risk, they find themselves confronting the greatest treason of all: the spectre of a bloody war between the faiths..."--Provided by publisher.… (mer)
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I enjoyed this second volume in the series much more than book 1. It has a slow build up and deals with the politics and religious antagonism of the late Elizabethan age, being slow to get going, but Dr Nicholas Selby has at least managed to stay sober and during the course of the novel comes to terms with the loss of his wife and sees a possibility of future happiness. As before, he is a reluctant spy for the Queen's Spymaster, Robert Cecil, and gets in over his head. Meanwhile Bianca, Italian tavern keeper and now licenced apothecary, does some investigation of her own into what her visiting cousin might be up to and also becomes embroiled in serious matters.

I liked the way Bianca was a competent and courageous joint protagonist and how, unlike in book 1 where she needed rescuing, here the boot is on the other foot. Also, the way the two investigations became interwoven is neat.

I should warn other readers that there is a sad animal death in the book and a grisly medical procedure which amounts to torture.

The only thing that held it back from a five star rating for me was a slight unbelievability in how a certain character was in the right place to meet a particular person at the end, plus it wasn't clear if Nicholas had managed to get the news to him about his son. That was a loose end not quite tied up. But an enjoyable 4 stars. ( )
  kitsune_reader | Nov 23, 2023 |
Set in Elizabethan London, we follow Nicholas Shelby, a doctor at odds with the medical establishment, as he investigates a strange Swiss doctor engaged to treat an epileptic young boy. It soon becomes clear that there is more to this treatment and relationship than at first suspected, potentially leading to a devastating civil war in England as adherents of the recently outlawed Catholic faith attempt to regain control of the country. Shelby is supported in his adventures by Bianca Merton, half-Italian and half-English, owner of the Jackdaw Tavern and an expert in plant-based medicines.

This is a very clever story with plenty of twists and reversals to keep the reader guessing about motives and which side the various characters are on. Perry is good at revealing insights into people in layers so our sympathies change as we become closer to them. The evocation and descriptions of Elizabethan England, and especially the Bankside area south of the Thames, are very good with just enough detail to make them real without intruding too much into the story.

I was pleased to see Bianca Merton take a more prominent role in this story. Her knowledge, courage, heart and vivacity make her the most attractive character, especially when placed alongside Shelby, who does sometimes come across as a rather insipid beige young man.

Definitely recommended, especially as we see the various characters develop, both in themselves and in their relationships, across the series. ( )
  pierthinker | Aug 7, 2021 |
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Nicholas Shelby Series

#1 The Angel's Mark - Not Read
#2 The Serpent's Mark - DNF



The first book in 2019 that I didn't manage to finish is The Serpent's Mark by S.W. Perry.

I am sad and disappointed. If you know me, you will know how I don't want to leave things unfinished, especially when reading books. I want to finish every book I read, so I can have a thorough opinion and valid comments.

I stopped reading this book at page 75, which is very early days, but I just couldn't continue because of a few points.

Before I start, I need to mention all the things that attracted me to this book in the first place. I love mysteries, and this book promised conspiracy, murder and espionage in Elizabethan London. It is set in the year 1591, where a doctor is investigated of his questionable practices. This was, by itself a promising start. And if you haven't seen the beautiful cover already, please do. It's art to have this book on your shelves.

However, while reading those 75 pages, I haven't encountered any murder. Conspiracy and espionage maybe, but it is so subtle, that everything else comes in first place, while I am here, flipping pages and desperately waiting for something to happen.

A book that contains a lot of politics and religion in a same chapter is just not the book for me. As a person that moved into the UK, I know a little bit about politics and not much about history politics, but I am also not very interested in it either. Documentaries, yes - but books for pleasure, not quite so much. This book was over-flooding with politics and religion, and it is something I just couldn't put past me. After deciding to DNF it, I also realized that it was a second book of a series, but can also be read as a standalone.

I wish I enjoyed it, but I just couldn't. However, if the book seems like something you might enjoy, please go for it, read it, and let me know how it went. We all have different tastes in book - and that's OKAY! :)

Thank you to ReadersFirst, a UK based website that sends me books every month in exchange for my honest reviews. What you do it absolutely amazing!

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  InnahLovesYou | Jan 3, 2020 |
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"Treason sleeps for no man... London, 1591. Nicholas Shelby, physician and reluctant spy, returns to his old haunts on London's lawless Bankside. But, when the queen's spymaster Robert Cecil asks him to investigate the dubious practices of a mysterious doctor from Switzerland, Nicholas is soon embroiled in a conspiracy that threatens not just the life of an innocent young patient, but the overthrow of Queen Elizabeth herself. With fellow healer and mistress of the Jackdaw tavern, Bianca Merton, again at his side, Nicholas is drawn into a dangerous world of zealots, charlatans and fanatics. As their own lives become increasingly at risk, they find themselves confronting the greatest treason of all: the spectre of a bloody war between the faiths..."--Provided by publisher.

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