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Tudor Mercenary for Rent – an Editorial Evaluation of “The Spy Who Sank the Armada”

E-book Blurb:

Penniless and a disappointment to his father, Anthony is flung into the Eighty Years’ Struggle, spying for the queen who exiled him, towards the queen who knighted him.

Editorial Evaluation:

‘The Spy Who Sank the Armada’ by David West is the primary of three books dedicated to the extremely perilous life and instances of Sir Anthony Standen, Tudor mercenary spy for rent; a person effectively in tune with the extraordinarily fraught instances through which he lived. It is a Tudor spy thriller, unabashed, unapologetic, and written in grand, pacey type!

The e book is sweeping and definitely covers quite a lot of territory when it comes to geography and occasions and notable historic incidents. It’s based mostly on the precise and infrequently mysterious lifetime of an precise determine; Sir Anthony Standen [born c.1548 – ?] In his evidently crowded profession, Standen, English born however a agency favorite inside the circle of Mary, Queen of Scots [who appointed him a ‘Master of Horse’ and knighted him] flitted and flirted all through Europe within the pay of a wide range of very totally different spymasters. His travels took him from England and Scotland to France, to the contentious Lowlands, and to Italy and Spain and past. West’s creation is a resourceful and indefatigable man; a sixteenth-century adventurer, a veritable ‘James Bond’ of his time.

We first meet the younger Sir Anthony Standen in Paris in 1567 and seemingly at a little bit of a unfastened finish. His early makes an attempt at espionage on behalf of the English finish in failure and close to loss of life. Paris is a powder keg, with close to and precise civil conflict between the French Catholic and Protestant Huguenot factions; and at all times the abiding English worry of Spanish involvement of their affairs – not solely in England but additionally in Scotland.

The late sixteenth century is in fact a vital and engaging interval in European historical past. It’s also very sophisticated, so we should thank David West for guiding the readers by means of the minefields of this era with appreciable savoir-faire and dexterity, revealing a deep information of and really feel for his material. On the English Embassy, he’s turned over to numerous masters and adepts on the numerous black arts of espionage and younger Anthony emerges as an achieved creator and decipherer of codes and ciphers, an skilled lockpicker and silent burglar, and a proficient killer; expertise so as to add to a repertoire that already consists of a unprecedented means as a linguist and a aptitude for swordplay. Anthony is subsequent commissioned by the up-and-coming Francis Walsingham, the brand new English Ambassador in Paris to spy on the Spanish and to collect data on their plans and intentions and this concerned a really lengthy interval of exercise in preventing for William of Orange, chief of the insurgent Protestant forces within the Low International locations, particularly the well-known maritime insurgent drive of ‘the Sea Beggars’.

There may be not often a uninteresting second within the hectic life and profession of Sir Anthony Standen and the reader’s consideration is at all times fastened upon him as he continues to be each an eyewitness and lively participant within the main dramas of the interval. The place occasions arrive at boiling level Standen can normally be relied upon to be centre stage or, on the very least, lurking within the shadows. The reader can solely marvel at [and, perhaps, envy] the sheer, regular, chilly nerve of the person or his uncanny means to not solely profit from his circumstances however flip them to his finest benefit, The resourceful Sir Anthony is a superlative survivor, dealt many unhealthy fingers and with greater than appears truthful and equitable of ”chutzpah’. After leaving the ‘Sea Beggars’ and making the acquaintance of William of Orange [who also pays him] he burgles the home of an absent Governor and steals cash and necessary paperwork, the contents of which he relays in code to his grasp Francis Walsingham. Surviving and escaping a full-blown Spanish assault and bloodbath of the inhabitants of a significant city, he then masquerades as an Italian soldier within the Spanish military and turns into, naturally sufficient, a despatch rider entrusted with delicate navy data which he dutifully relays again to the English authorities in Paris. He in reality maintains this pretence for a number of years earlier than being robbed and left unconscious. Naturally sufficient, he’s recognised and brought in by a lovely widow to whom he had as soon as executed a favour in a earlier life when he had been Antonio Foscari, an Italian wine service provider – his earlier cowl again in his Paris days. They turn into lovers and it’s a nice sufficient life till one morning when her illegitimate son whom she has been separated from for a few years involves name. This man seems to be none aside from the brand new Spanish Governor. Anticipating Henry Fielding’s ‘Tom Jones’ by a very good century and a half, he makes a hasty exit in a state of some undress by means of the window and makes off on the Governor’s prized stallion, thus making him essentially the most wished man within the Lowlands. He units off, hotly pursued, throughout the size and breadth of Spanish-controlled Europe, heading for the security of the land of the Ottomans and the fabulous Metropolis of Constantinople. As beforehand famous, ‘by no means a uninteresting second’. This e book [and in all likelihood, the following ones in the series] would equally make a superb motion comedian e book or tv serial! The reader wants to remember always that every one these adventures are based mostly on the lifetime of an actual particular person! Sir Anthony Standen inhabits his world like some inverted, world-weary, and cynical ‘Candide’. Within the phrases of Shakespeare ”bestriding the slender world like a Colossus.”

On the threat of falling into the entice of merely narrating, a really nice interlude of 4 years follows as a visitor of the Sultan within the Topkapi Palace the place Anthony provides written and spoken Arabic to his already spectacular portfolio of accomplishments and develops an appreciation of each alchemy and medication [and poisons!] by means of his research of Arabic texts. At one level he pauses to replicate upon the probabilities of growing a enterprise within the cultivation of tulip bulbs, foreshadowing a phenomenon within the Lowlands within the following century. He additionally sends frequent and extremely informative letters to Walsingham ever anxious to fire up hassle for the Spanish. Ever because the catastrophic defeat of the Turks on the sea battle of Lepanto by the Spanish and Venetians the Turks are usually not inclined to take an affectionate view of the Spanish. In his final communication, Walsingham orders Anthony to Florence and the Court docket of Duke Francis de Medici the place it’s hoped {that a} shared reference to Mary Queen of Scots might be exploited, for there’s proof of a plot to homicide Queen Elizabeth. And it’s right here on the glittering Florentine Court docket and by deploying all of his appreciable expertise that Sir Anthony Standen uncovers a plot in his best triumph thus far. This, in his subsequent keep there and in Madrid, is only one of his many actions.

These pondering that maybe an excessive amount of of the plot has already been revealed might relaxation assured. That which has been already outlined is however a fraction of what’s nonetheless but to come back within the chaotic profession of Sir Anthony Standen. All the things to date is one thing of a trifle as compared with what’s but to happen within the political hotspots of Florence, Madrid, London, and Rome!

There are confrontations with Kings and Popes and extraordinary figures similar to Cecil and the Earl of Essex and a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth nonetheless to come back. In separate conversations with each the brand new King James I, the lifetime of whose mom Standen had saved so a few years earlier than, and Pope Clement VIII each these eminent figures comment on what an attention-grabbing life Holden seems to have led. That is, in fact, one thing of an understatement, given the circumstances. Sir Anthony Standen needs to be nearly essentially the most travelled man of his age. He has been each the welcome bidden visitor and the hidden and illicit lurker and intruder in many of the grand Palaces and Courts of Europe; in addition to the unwilling inmate of most of its extra notorious gaols, as much as and together with the Tower of London. He has been each the paid and unpaid agent and double agent of all of the competing powers and has received and misplaced small fortunes a number of instances over. He has been betrayed and double-crossed by most of them as effectively, however survives on every event to spy once more.

In 1605, on the finish of this admirable first e book, we discover him dwelling on Papal patrimony in a lovely villa with lands along with his spouse [whom he had met years before in Florence and whose subsequent Wedding was conducted by the Pope] and his three kids. West doesn’t inform us if he has white hair and shaking limbs, however he definitely deserves to have these bequests of his life thus far. If he now hopes to spend his declining years tending his vines within the bosom of his doting household he’s to be sorely disenchanted when an Italian Cardinal, an outdated affiliate, arrives dangling a handbag of 2000 ducats and a brand new mission. We’re not informed the character of the duty, however it’s patently clear that he should put his plans on maintain for some time and as soon as extra brush up on his outdated extremely superior expertise of forgery, lock selecting, and swordplay and don afresh his chameleon-like Actor’s masks.

It is a nice and stirring story certainly and bodes effectively for the next books charting the additional life and instances of Sir Anthony Standen. From the comparatively few identified verifiable info relating to the lifetime of the person, David West has conjured up an epic portrayal of a really ‘Renaissance’ determine [at one point he reveals a skill of draughtsmanship and portraiture]; a nerveless and cold-blooded ‘Maestro’ of his chosen career. The e book is peppered with the emergence and frequent re-emergence of notable historic figures who, once more within the type of ‘Candide’, show a behavior of showing with unlucky outcomes. In telling this story the creator has clearly been scrupulous in his consideration to the welter of complicated and infrequently seemingly contradictory data that surrounds this advanced and engaging interval of European historical past that will have the useful impact of persuading readers to hold out their very own analysis. ‘The spy who sank the Armada’ is a nice learn and accomplishment and bodes effectively for its successors.


The Spy Who Sank the Armada” receives 4.5 stars from The Historic Fiction Firm

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Creator Bio:

David V.S. West was educated at St. Edmund Corridor, Oxford, the place he took a B.A. in Engineering Science. Throughout a profession in engineering and challenge administration he was commissioned by Gower Publishing to put in writing a e book on Venture Sponsorship. This led him to check inventive writing with the Open College, and a brand new profession as a author. He lives in Wiltshire.


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