Cover Image: Day of the Serpent, The

Day of the Serpent, The

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Member Reviews

This was quite an intriguing and interesting story overall. While the murder part wasn’t quite of my liking, the history one was interesting to see how the author will depict it and how the characters are fleshed out so real . 

Very grateful to the publisher for my review copy
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The Author has managed to bring the sights and sounds of this era to life ;along with the political machinations and the unrest around the death of Richard the 11 .
The murder mystery element of the story was perhaps not as to the forefront as I would have preferred but I did enjoy the 'history' of the times brought to life - especially with the tensions felt by our poor , reluctant sleuth Brother Chandler - who has secrets of his own to keep hidden .

Overall this was an enjoyable read but perhaps future books might have more murder/mystery and slightly less 'history'

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own
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This was a fascinating historical fiction, These stories bring history to life., they are well researched, realistic and believable. .This one is based around the wars of the Roses when Henry !V took the throne and killed King Richard. What followed was a time of persecution and death. Very absorbing story.
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This was a mixed bag for me. I greatly enjoyed the historical details of daily life at the time of confusion and fear, when Henry (to be the IV) seizes the throne from Richard II, and has him murdered. Divisions of loyalty and horrific punishments were daily occurences. Chaucer's homelife descriptions were really interesting. The evocative (especially London-based) details of life at the time reminded me of reading Hilary Mantell on later Tudor England, a real feeling of being there. However, the mystery part of the story around the soldiers being killed while transporting the ex-King's body was not strong enough to hold my interest. I tried, but could not finish this one.
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Not really being one for historical fiction, I found myself being unusually drawn to this.


I  won't lie, it seemed to take an age to read. Almost two weeks from cover to cover. But, I kept finding myself reuturning to it, even if infrequently.


Take one friar, a group of highly trained archers, a disposed (assumed dead) king. And one of the most natural driving forces, revenge.


A tale of men on foot, a fanatical arch-bishop and a wannabe king on a massive power trip driven by madness.


We follow, the friar and the bowmen. Travelling from Pontefract Castle to London, with the assumed dead body of the de-throned King Richard. Following a spate of killings, the travelling party is alert. With their paymaster up in arms about the killing of his men.


The friar is entrusted, to find the person who has commited these crimes. Having alreday fallen in with the bowmen, he suspects them, but never outs them. Friendship holds his tongue.


Chauser, make appearances in the tale, trying to smuggle out his own tales to preserve them for future times.


Like I said, I found it to be a slow read, but read it I did, and it evaded the DNF pile. So it had qualities enough for me to finish it.


Satatus: Completed

Rating: 3.8/5.0


#NetGalley #TheDayOfTheSerpent #CassandraClark #HistoricalFiction #BrothersInArms
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This novel takes place at the beginning of the Wars of the Roses. The Duke of Lancaster, Henry Bolingbroke has just deposed his cousin Richard 11 and made himself Henry IV. This is my favourite period of history and I was looking forward to a murder mystery set in this troubled time. However, the murder mystery really takes second place to the historical account of Richard’s death and the unrest that accompanied it. The actual mystery never really seems to take centre stage.
It’s an interesting read and I did enjoy the fact that the author portrayed Richard in a much more sympathetic light than is usually the case. I did find that there was a bit too much detail about the historythough and not enough tension. It’s an enjoyable read if you’re interested in this period.
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This is a story set in the Middle Ages with a member of the clergy acting as a spy. I was looking forward to reading it and I enjoyed the final chapters but was disappointed in the middle section which I felt moved slowly.
I found it difficult to engage with the main character and the girl.
I am sorry to say that this book promised a lot, but for me failed to capture my enthusiasm.
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I found the concept of this book - the second in a series - intriguing and came to it with high expectations for a politically based medieval mystery. However, I really didn't take to the book and wasn't able to finish it. Clark has researched the period well and knows her stuff, but the writing seemed poor with words used incorrectly from time to time and a plethora of cliches (although to be fair to the author I would have expected these to have been picked up in the editing process). Perhaps this improved as the book progressed.
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I'm feeling a certain ambivalence about The Day of the Serpent, the second volume in the Brother Chandler mystery series. I gave the first book in the series, The Hour of the Fox, five stars for its complex presentation of the politics of the era (Bolingbroke's  overthrow and murder of Richard II) and its ambiguous central characters, none of whom is clearly all "good guy" or "bad guy." The Day of the Serpent also has these strengths, but here the mystery seems peripheral to the novel's narrative arc which follows two paths: one political, one romantic.

About halfway through The Day of the Serpent, I realized there was no point in reading the novel as a mystery and instead decided to read it as a depiction of complex and insidious politicking with huge real-world consequences. These consequences are especially grim for Lollards, free-thinkers who were not persecuted under Richard II. Coming to power on Bolingbroke's heels is Archbishop Thomas Arundel, who is determined to enforce rigid limits to religious practice and who is pushing through legislation to allow burning at the stake for heretics. And, given the divine right of kings, anyone who questions Bolingbroke's rise to power and the murder of Richard II is treated as heretical.

Those at risk because of this new religious narrowness include Brother Chandler, who works for Bolingbroke, but also admires Richard II; Geoffrey Chaucer, whose Canterbury Tales mock the hypocrisy of religious pilgrims; peasants conscripted into Bolingbroke's army; those who still view Richard II as the anointed king of England; and pretty much anyone who is capable of questioning the current order, even  in minor ways. Reading the book as an exploration of the experiences such individuals face—and  jettisoning any expectations about a central mystery—makes for a complex, rewarding reading experience.

If you're looking for titles that fall under the genre of historical mysteries, this book may disappoint. If you're curious about the dangerous ways theology and politics have played out in  the lives of individuals from a specific historical period, you'll find The Day of the Serpent a satisfying read.

I received a free electronic ARC of this title from the publisher via NetGalley; the opinions are my own.
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Of kings and thrones!

Regicide, jealousy, heresy, all are present in this sequel to Hour of the Fox set in 1400. Brother Rodric Chandler once more leaves us wondering if he’s an opportunist, a cynic, or a man who sees injustice and greed. A friar and yet still a man. A man of secrets—his own and others. A man who can’t stop thinking about Geoffrey Chaucer’s servant, the maid Matilda. And what game is Master Chaucer playing as King Richard II is imprisoned in Pontefract Castle, John of Gaunt’s Lancastrian hold in the North? 
Chandler is under orders from his master Sir Thomas Swynford to oversee the starvation of Richard, hoping the lack of food will hurry along Richard’s demise. Meanwhile Henry Bolingbroke, Richard’s cousin, now King, is tightening his grip on the people of England using heresy  to point away from the fate of his stepbrother Richard. Politically Henry needs Richard gone.  If anything Chandler is sympathetic to the man King Richard, who was such a bright star. The situation calls into focus for Chandler real questions around the divine right of kings, the legitimacy of self appointed monarchs, hinted at in Richard’s railings, “This so-called king even had himself anointed with fake holy oil to outdo my own true anointing.”
Richard’s body is borne to the City of London, supported by Swynford’s troops. The population mourning as the bier passes. The lie is given out that Richard stopped eating from melancholy. It’s on this journey an unknown enemy strikes.
Chandler is in the thick of things. Three of Swynford’s men are murdered on different occasions by an arrow shot from a long bow. Chandler is charged to find the culprit. Swynford is incandescent with rage and wants answers. Chandler can’t afford to fail. 
Chandler forms an interesting relationship with three mercenary bowmen. They assist him with his inquiries. 
London brings about different challenges. Chaucer is in danger of being accused of writing seditious works, placing Matilda in harm’s way. Chandler and Mattie meet from time to time. She’s warned that Chandler is a spy. Chandler is well aware of the ironies of the situation, his feelings for Mattie, and the dangers he faces.
Archbishop of Canterbury, Arundel is vigorously pursuing the Lollards.
Up and down England men and women are being tortured and put to terrible deaths. “The serpent of repression coiling around the realm of England.”
For all the horror Henry brings to the population, rumors still run rampant that Richard is alive, that he escaped. Chandler is well and truly ensnared in the middle as he dances his way between his various roles, his masters, and the people he cares for. The various personalities he interacts with have him walking a tightrope of disaster.
Clark’s research is amazing as she takes us through this torrid time of medieval English history. Riveting times unraveled by a master story teller!

A Canongate/ Severn ARC via NetGalley 
Please note: Quotes taken from an advanced reading copy maybe subject to change
(Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.)
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Imprisoned in Pontefract Castle by the usurper, Henry Bolingbroke, Richard II starved to death. At least that’s the story that was put about in 1400 so the people would accept Henry’s big lie. Brother Chandler, reluctantly indentured to the House of Lancaster, is whisked north by the usurper king’s stepbrother, Thomas Swynford. Tasked with bringing Richard his meals in Pontefract’s tower, Chandler’s scenes with the young king are deeply moving; then, without warning, Richard is brutally murdered. As the entourage makes its way to London, three bodyguards are struck down by a skilled archer. Swynford, forever disgruntled at the lack of recognition by the king, orders Chandler to find the culprit without delay. Investigating loudly whilst prevaricating, Chandler discreetly protects those who might be responsible. Back in London, Chandler hopes to reunite with his love, Mattie, but receives a frosty reception. Times have changed since he went north. Self-styled archbishop Arundel is hardening the heresy laws in favour of burning, and even Chandler is not safe from Arundel’s wrath.

Our friar is an enigmatic, multifaceted and likeable man with a disarming friendliness, useful for a spy. Clark doesn’t dwell on his background, only revealing occasional tidbits. Mattie, a maid in Chaucer’s household, is the voice of the times (an interesting choice for this role which works perfectly), relating the toxic fear gripping the land, and her anxiety for Master Chaucer and his ‘heretical’ writings. There’s complexity and urgency in the multiple themes—

an anointed king’s murder, the dead guards, the mystery bowman, the revamped heresy laws, Mattie’s secret excursions, the heretical Book of the Lion—and the frequent inability to fathom which side Chandler is on. This is a compulsive, edgy read about dangerous times, when misinformation was the order of the day. Clark ties the multiple ends up neatly, with neither cliffhanger nor happily-ever-after. A terrific achievement in a series to watch closely.
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Many thanks to NetGalley and Severn House for this Advanced Reader Copy and the opportunity to review “The Day of the Serpent.” All opinions are my own.

Brother Chandler is, to put it bluntly, a spy for Henry of Lancaster.  Who just happens to now be Henry IV, the new King of England.  Not that he is acknowledged as such by everybody in the kingdom.   But when Chandler’s called by Sir Thomas Swynford, it’s usually because Henry wants something, so off he goes into the darkened streets of London.  That’s the beginning of “The Day of the Serpent” (after that enigmatic prologue), the second in the Brother Chandler series by Cassandra Clark.

Lo and behold, they arrive at Pontefract Castle in Yorkshire.  And who’s there?  The deposed Richard II.  And what is Pontefract Castle known for?  As the place where Richard died – under mysterious circumstances.  Well and good, as our book becomes less of a mystery and more of a history lesson even when more than one death occurs during its course.  We get the story that Richard has starved himself to death, but our author doesn’t buy that at all (history records this skepticism, also).  I’m not going to spoil it for you.

The rest of the book is taken up with that history I mentioned, of the aftermath of Richard’s death.  Oh, yes, Mattie, Chandler’s paramour, has a story, because Geoffrey Chaucer, her “Master,” has to do a whole lot of scrambling now, as the risk of being taken up for heresy for being against the new king is the new normal.  

This book will take you through a glass darkly.  There are a lot of verbal twists and turns.  And the personal stories are part and parcel, including that ending!  I’ll not spoil that for you, either.  If you looking for something cut and dried, look elsewhere.  If you’ll be content with reading medieval history that underscores the way that events in modern times can lead to dangerous thinking, then “The Day of the Serpent” may strike a cord.
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Brother Chandler is a man of religion who is forced into the service of Swynford who is supporting Henry who replaces Richard as King in 1400. Swynford’s men are being picked off one by one and Chandler must find out by whom. He must keep his head and his secrets. Love is also in the air.
A well paced novel with lots of interesting characters, plot lines, tension and fear. Enjoy delving into history.
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I didn’t realise that this is the second book in a series.  It works well as a standalone and I enjoyed it so much, I’ll be buying the first and awaiting the next.  I don’t this author, but I enjoy most historical fiction and she writes well about a very dark and turbulent period.

The central character is a Friar, tortured by divided loyalties.  I found him plausible and a different and totally engaging character.  I do t know a great deal about this era, so I found the detail about the Lollards absolutely fascinating and I really enjoyed the way the political intrigues and fight for power are brought so vividly to life.  There’s violence galore, but such were the times and it added to the sense of dark brutality that pervades the story.  

It’s easy to become immersed in the tale of treachery and duplicity and I enjoyed it. 

My thanks to the publisher for a review copy via Netgalley.
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Brother Chandler is forced to join with Lord Swynford and travels north to Pontefract.  The deposed King Richard (now called Richard of Bordeaux) is being held and starved.  Chandler does his best to help Richard but to no avail, he is murdered.  Accompanying the body back to London, several men are slain by an expert archer who evades detection.  back in London Chandler has to balance loyalty with fealty and his feelings for Matilda, maid to Chaucer.
I had enjoyed the first book in this series and had high hopes for this one but I found it hard to follow the plot at times.  The research is excellent and this period (around the usurping of the throne by Henry Bolingbroke) is not one that is often written about so was fascinating in that respect.
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This is my favourite genre of books, but I was very disappointed in this one.  It is the first I have read in the series which is obviously well researched but the story was too slow.  I lost interest in whether Brother Chandler would survive and had to force myself to keep reading.  This book just wasn't for me.
This is an honest review of a complementary ARC.
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3.5 stars rounded to 4
This is a good historical fiction, well researched and well written. There's some mystery in the plot but it takes the backseat.
I enjoyed it as the characters are well developed and the plot is compelling but I wanted more mystery.
The author is a good storyteller, the historical background is vivid, and the characters are fleshed out.
Recommended if you want to read a gripping historical novel.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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Brother Chandler is back, and on fine form!

Fans of the first book in this series "The Hour of the Fox" will be delighted with the follow up.  It takes place soon after the events of "Hour" and again is alive with undiluted historical events.  

Having visited the deposed King Richard at Pontefract Castle, and subsequently witnessed his death, Brother Chandler is employed by Thomas Swynford, the usurper King Henry's stepbrother, as both detective and spy to uncover plotters and with discovering who is murdering Swynfords men as they escort Richard's body back to London. At the same time, supporters of King Richard are staging armed revolts against Henry, as he tries to remove Richard's name from the history books.  

All of this leads the reluctant spy into a maze of conspiracy, rebellion, political manoeuvring and sedition as he seeks to carry out his mission, while gathering information about the insurrection and plotting.  Unlike other books which use history as a backdrop, somehow Cassandra Clark manages to weave pure historical fact into the story, which in the hands of a lesser talent would be dry and plodding,

Not so here, though, and what we have is a complex, bloody, and sometimes brooding tale, sitting upon meticulous research.  Oh, and yes, Mattie and her employer Chaucer aren't forgotten either. 

This book is another winner and definitely one to pick up. I'm grateful to NetGalley for the chance to read an early ARC, but will be sure to rush out and buy a real copy when it is published.  It's that good.
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I have read some of the authors work before and fully enjoyed them. But I wish I had read the first in the series, The Hour of the Fox. The Day of the Serpent follows on from that particular novel, and although it can be read as a stand-alone novel, reading in order is probably preferable. Saying that, it did not detract from an intelligent and intriguing read. This was more like a historical narrative than a murder mystery, but it still made for fascinating theatre.
Considering death was a natural occurrence, a one-off death does not seem all that out of place. But this had all the makings of an assassination, and Brother Chandler gets enlisted to investigate. As Chandler gets caught in the middle of political intrigue, his loyalties become divided.
This is a well written and well-researched historical novel with the added touch of the murder mystery. The Day of the Serpent is slow to take off as the scene is set for all the court complications. The author manages to paint a vivid picture of the sight and sounds of the time. 
Brother Chandler as a character is not what you expect. He has some skills that he must have accrued in the previous novel. This is on top of his religious duty, the sleuthing and spying. All the characters are well described and full of depth, plus we have actual historic ones thrown into the mix.
The Day of the Serpent is not exactly what I was expecting, but I still enjoyed reading this clever and intriguing novel.
Thank you, NetGalley & Canongate Books, Severn House, for the ARC.
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King Henry has claimed the throne in questionable circumstances. Loyalties maybe tested, particularly when the murder of loyal king’s men via war arrows requires investigation by Brother Chandler. The biggest risk being an uprising.

Chandler portrays his usual balanced and calm demeanour when speaking with witnesses and considering realistic options. He is never quick to jump to conclusions. His investigation however is quite loose, in so much as it doesn’t feature above the historical events of the time and his supporting characters.

Whilst interesting and meandering, at a gentle pace, its mystery focus felt a bit lax. There is very little tension or build up to events, they merely pass. It offers a more sympathetic account of the death of King Richard. Brutality is a given in this historical period. Suspicion with regards to allegiances a constant. Mattie the maid of the poet, Chaucer was my favourite character as she was the most interesting and distinctive. It wasn’t the most memorable read, albeit Chandler had to tread a careful path not to endanger himself or others he is close to, but ultimately aside the historical detail, the mystery itself felt a little too subtle and mediocre for me. A decent denouement though.
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