I did not know that this book existed until I saw it in Waterstone's in Plymouth. Since I am automatically drawn towards anything bearing a Tudor Rose, I flicked through the pages and was glad that I had done so. I sat in the sun on Plymouth Hoe and read a brilliant Drake novel.
Martyr is an espionage novel, the first in a series of books about John Shakespeare - the elder brother of William the playwright. John is an agent of Walsingham and on the eve of Drake's departure to the West Indies in 1585, is given the task of protecting Drake from a Jesuit plot to assassinate him. However Drake does not want a watchdog on the grounds that somebody is always trying to assassinate him anyway, so why the worry? John Shakespeare is a compassionate, hardworking young man, and a true professional. Drake is a courageous extrovert who has a job to do and is going to do it, assassin or no assassin. These two characters described by author Rory Clements are both very easy to identify with and to like. Martyr is well written and the pace and the action keep one riveted. The reader knows that Drake will survive, but due to the clever plot and intense suspense, the reader is made to wonder how Drake will prevail. The book is bawdy; there is some sex, violence and bad language but only within the context of the story.
This book is brilliant; it is historically accurate, exciting and funny.
I unreservedly recommend this book; I thoroughly enjoyed reading it; in fact it was a book that I could hardly put down and I know that I will want to read it again and again.
Please buy it and you will be assured of one of the best reads in a long time.