shortlisted for Book of the Month
"This is the stuff of good historical fiction: made-up characters adventuring alongside real ones who existed, and undertaking incredible adventures which are written so convincingly you are a little shocked to discover, at the end of the book, that it was all, after all, fiction."
(The Chosen Man Trilogy Book 3)
fictional saga / political thriller
17th century / English Civil Wars
England / Europe
" 'For sale: the English Crown Jewels'
Ludo da Portovenere, now a settled merchant is thrust back into his former profiteering ways when the Queen of England commissions him to sell priceless gems to raise money for the Royalist cause during the Civil War. Will Ludo keep, or sell on the English Crown Jewels? There are many who would like to prevent him from doing either by removing him permanently from the stage.
Ludo plans to make a very significant profit - mostly for himself - but these plans are set awry when Alina, Baroness Metherall, becomes involved. Meanwhile, Marcos Alonso Almendro now a successful merchant in Plymouth is charged with acquiring the jewels to prevent them being sold at all. What none of them know is that the evil-minded Vatican agent Rogelio, who is pursuing a personal vendetta against Ludo, has been commissioned to acquire the very same jewels by the Vatican. Events move into perilous territory as it comes time for old scores to be settled, one way or the other. Caught up in the violence of conflicts, not of their own choosing, Ludo, Alina and Marcos have to decide where their loyalties lie, where they want to be, and ultimately, with whom."
Occasionally, novels that run into a series begin to sag a little by the time we reach the third book or beyond. Not so with these exhilarating adventures of Ludo da Portovenere and his associates. If anything, the pace increases along with the page-turning full of drama and excitement plot.
What fascinated me, even more than the thrill of the chase and the 'will he won't he' about Ludo's decisions regarding those jewels, was the sheer joy of the author's talented writing and wonderful research. I was truly 'there' in the locations, settings and scenes. This is the stuff of good historical fiction: made-up characters adventuring alongside real ones who existed, and undertaking incredible adventures which are written so convincingly you are a little shocked to discover, at the end of the book, that it was all, after all, fiction.
Ludo himself is a charismatic character with a CV as long as his arm: merchant, Corsair, trader, lover, spy... he is single-minded and independent, but outside forces tend to get in his way, which, inevitably, lead to annoying problems for him to circumnavigate.
Alongside Ludo, we meet old friends - and enemies - from the previous two novels, and a host of intriguing new characters. It does not matter if you have not read the first two books as the author skilfully weaves enough backstory into this one - but, I would suggest that you start at the beginning because you are in for a treat.
This is, according to the publisher and author, a trilogy. Oh, I do hope not... more please!
© Anne Holt