March 09, 2004

Firedrake's Eye, Patricia Finney

Elizabethan London spinning out madmen and bravos, Jews, spies and codebreakers, spinning around a plot wound around the Queen. It works as a spy novel and as a story of outsiders. The language is not obs., but echoes Elizabethanisms in its arrangement and grammar. The characters' voices are distinct. A great deal happens; in the penultimate scene it nearly happens all at once.

In all of England is no finer sight than London Bridge, the glory of the City, with its serried fleet of piers against the onrush of the Thames. The best drapers' shops in the land are on it, arching across it, enclosing those who care not that they get their cloth good cheap, but that it be fine. There may be bought silks of Cathay and cottons of Inda, velvets and damasks of buttercup and viridian and violet and crimson and strange fancy colours like Dead Spaniard that was begun as a putty shade.

ISBN: 0-312-18094-2

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