Shortlisted for Book of the Month
AMAZON UK £3.93
AMAZON CA $7.02
Fictional Saga / Nautical
I had met Ludovico de Portovenere (Ludo from now on) before in the first volume The Chosen Man of Ms Harlond's trilogy. This sequel follows on a little while after Ludo's mission to destroy the Dutch economy with tulips. For various reasons (recapped in this latest story), a lot of people want Ludo out of the way, and others want him to carry out their dirty work for them. Thus Ludo is running messages between royalty in England and Spain, whilst evading and colluding with his enemies and still inventing new trade schemes to make himself rich. For Ludo, amongst other things, is 'an honest trader'; a merchant.
A case of mistaken identity leads Ludo into this adventure full of dangers and political intrigue taking him from Goa, to Spain, to England and many other places. And with him most of the time is his friend Marcus, the aspiring merchant, and Alina, the beautiful if self-promoting Spanish noble-born woman who is now a trusted lady’s maid to Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I of England.
I like Ludo very much. No: I love him. As a fictional character he is vibrant and full of life throughout. For me, he appears to have walked straight out of a Franz Hals painting. Yes, he is an honest trader with an eye for the main chance, but there is more than a touch of the pirate about him. He has a wife now, yet he yearns for Alina – herself a wife and mother. But his one true love is the sea and his ship the Tulip – a positive result of his previous adventure and also a bone of contention between him and his enemies. In this volume we learn a lot more about the man – his past, his hopes and his dreams.
As with all series, it is always advantageous to start at the beginning to receive the best experience, though this episode is none-the-less a thoroughly good read as a stand alone book. The author has an impressive knowledge of not only the politics of the time but also of trade and trade goods.
As before, some interesting little cameos: I loved that Diego Valezquez is cited as brilliant with faces but not so good with horses!
The conclusion leaves some loose ends, but the author assures us that these will be tied-up in the final book of the series. I just hope that we do not have to wait too long for it!
A propos of nothing, two sentences in particular left me wondering whether the author has a wicked and subtle sense of humour or whether I have an irreverent one… Marcus adopting an assumed name had me singing Tainted Love and she managed to work Snakes and Ladders and Ludo into the same sentence. Clever.
An excellent book and very highly recommended
© Richard Tearle