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Book 91-92: Death of Kings and By Royal Command

Both these works of historical fiction are the second in series et in the reign of Elizabeth I.

Book 91: Death of Kings (Shakespearean Murder Mystery 02).
Author: Philip Gooden, 2001.
Genre: Historical Mystery. Early 17th century England
Other Details: Paperback. 310 pages.

Following the events recounted in Sleep of Death (2011 Book 53), Nick Revill, is now a junior member of the acting troupe The Chamberlain's Men and in February 1601 finds himself caught up in dangerous political intrigue. Queen Elizabeth is in her 68th year and with no child or appointed successor there is widespread unrest and speculation about the situation. Supporters of her former favourite Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex, commissioned a special performance of Shakespeare's Richard II, a play notable for its theme of the over-throwing and murder of an anointed king. The play was performed on the 7th February 1601 and on the morning of 8th February, Essex and his supporters attempted a revolt that was quickly quelled.

Using this historical context Gooden weaves a playful, often bawdy, tale in which poor Nick is up to his neck in plots and counter-plots as he is recruited as an informant by the Queen's Secretary, Sir Robert Cecil. Nick is such a likeable character and his narration is full of wit and references to Shakespeare's works. Aside from his career as a writer and promoter of historical fiction as one of The Medieval Murderers, Gooden writes non-fiction on the English language and that familiarity serves him well in these novels giving an authentic favour to the dialogue. Overall, it was a very light and enjoyable read.

Book 92: By Royal Command (At the House of the Magician 02).
Author: Mary Hooper, 2008.
Genre: Historical Fiction. Late 16th century England. Young Adult.
Other Details: Paperback. 240 pages.

Lucy is now well established as nursemaid to the children of Dr. John Dee, Queen Elizabeth's court magician. After her adventures in At the House of the Magician (2011 Book 78), she has been recruited as part of the Queen's extensive spy network and told to await further instructions. However, before long her innate curiosity uncovers a mystery close to home. Later she receives an assignment via her friend Tomas, the Queen's Fool, to shadow a young noblewoman suspected of being a sympathiser of Mary, Queen of Scots.

As the middle novel in a trilogy, this sets things up for the conclusion and certainly was a quick and engaging read. Hooper is writing for young adult readers and so ensures that the novel's historical events, characters and period details are portrayed simply and accurately, providing a pleasant introduction to the later Elizabethan era. She also includes a glossary, notes on historical figures and a short bibliography.
Tags: historical fiction, historical mysteries, shakespeare, young adult
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