‘Have you seen a country under sack? Have you seen what happens there? Have you seen the blood, heard the screaming, smelt the smoke on the wind?... I saw the red flash of the guns, the white smoke, felt walls shudder. I saw tall galleys spew fire that spread over the decks in a blazing carpet, turning men into torches…’
Like ‘Pirates’, like ‘Sovay’, and her other books, it’s an exciting adventure – such a page-turner that you hardly notice how firmly it’s based on solid research, and how deftly that research is used in creating a sense of place and atmosphere without ever distracting you from the story. I much admired, for instance, the way journey the players make from London to Stratford was handled – the villages passed through that are now merely names of stations on the tube, the sights mentioned – the ford, the old bridge. But, while this reminds us how much our country has changed, and makes us see the countryside of the 16th century, it’s also entirely natural that the characters would notice these things. They’re making their way without road-signs or maps or sat-navs – they have to find their way by travelling from landmark to landmark.