The novel takes place in England and France during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. It is a long, epic retelling of the war between the Catholicism and Protestantism. Many vivid characters populate the book – monarchs, spies, clergymen, earls, lords, and common folk. Much of the tale is told in the first-person voice of Ned, a fictional English spy. The rest of the story is revealed by an omniscient narrator.
Overall, I enjoyed this novel even though it took a while to capture my interest because of the numerous characters in it. From time to time, I got confused because there are so many plots and people in the story. Historically, it is a very interesting subject to me, a lover of the Elizabethan era.
This is a story about religious freedom and persecution. It is also about power and corruption. I couldn’t help but think how, as in many other historical novels, one cannot help but observe the fact that history repeats itself.