Cover Image: All the Queen's Spies

All the Queen's Spies

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Member Reviews

Firstly, I love the covers. Beautiful visual adaptation of Queen Elizabeth I's face is lovely. Yet another exciting historical novel, 3rd in the series, by Mr. Clements - it is full spies, intrigue, and lots of excitement. There is A Book of Secrets, which Dr. John Dee has created (unknowingly to others) that assists in keeping John Dee, his wife and Kit Marlowe (LOVE him!) alive. Unfortunately, this "Book of Angelic Magick" only manages to keep them hunted dow. I love that Queen Elizabeth I, Francis Walsingham, William Cecil are still involved in the main plot. The author has crafted wonderfully vivid characterization, an excellent plot, culminating in a very thrilling read.
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I really enjoyed Oliver Clements' All the Queen Spies. I thought it was a fabulous book to read and realize that I have to rea the other installments from the Agents of the Crown series. Five stars.
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Rich in historical detail, this novel grabbed me at the beginning and didn’t let go.  I learned a lot about Elizabethan England and the characters.  (Of course I always have to google to find out more!) Great plot!
Many thanks to Atria and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
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As a disclaimer: I did not realize that this was 3rd in the series. 

This is a good book. I would recommend it for any historical fiction or spy novel lovers. A bit hard to get into, but I attribute this to the fact that I didn’t realize it was a series.
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Loved the time period and plot but struggled to enjoy the actual writing. The historical accuracy was a big plus for me in regards to characters I was already familiar with and historical events BUT I didn't realize this was a sequel when I requested the ARC. Needless to say, you will probably enjoy this book more if you know the backstory of previous events.  

My biggest issues for not enjoying it as much as I wanted were the slow pacing and the wordiness... sometimes the descriptions were overlong in regards to travel and the plotlines could get a bit murky to follow. Big pluses for this book were the intrigue with a healthy dose of Elizabethan court politics which I always love to get sucked into. I will definitely take a chance on reading the first two books in the series to see if that fills in the gaps I felt I missed with All the Queen's Spies.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing an ARC for an honest review.
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This story is about John Dee, one of Queen Elizabeth I's spies. He infiltrates the court in Prague and is able to stop a war from breaking out. One of Catherine de Medici's ladies-in-waiting is attempting to seduce the Holy Roman Emperor and in turn start a war with England. Dee astutely is able to convive the Emperor away from that idea by offerring the enticing Book of Secrets. It's a story with many twists and turns but this story will likely be enjoyed bu those who are intrigued by court politics.
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I already knew who John Dee was and many details of his life.  Renaissance history was my PhD field many decades ago.  However, even though this novel is historical fiction, I very much enjoyed reading All the Queen's Spies.  Author Oliver Clements provides many of the smaller details and imagines the history that might have occurred, thus filling in the historical blanks. All the Queen's Spies is the third book in this series.  I have not read the first two books, which was a bit of a disadvantage.  Still, I do think All the Queen's Spies can be read as a stand-alone historical fiction novel.

All the Queen's Spies is definitely for readers who are interested in this period, late 16th central England and Europe.  The minutia can be overwhelming at times, and I suspect many readers will want to skip around a bit, but I urge them not to do so.  There are rewards to having stuck with the details.  So many of the historical characters populating this novel are portrayed in a manner that was surprising--Chris Marlowe, for example.  Chris Marlow dressed in peach silk was a perfect description of the playwright but not one often seen.  It was also very interesting to learn so many details about this plot to invade England and how the men surrounding Queen Elizabeth dealt with these events.  Characters were given full lives with some depth.  How characters spoke of and felt about death and the risks they faced was so matter-of-fact, which I imagine is how anyone might have dealt with so much death.   Since I never could stand Hatton, All the Queen's Spies did not tell me anything I did not already know about this self-righteous 16th century politician.  

I wish to thank author and publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review.  Thank you also to NetGalley for their assistance in providing this book.
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All the Queen's Spies by Oliver Clements
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 💫

Have you ever requested an ARC only to find out it is the third in a series? No? Just me then?

All the Queen's Spies is the third Agents of the Crown novel. Set in Elizabethan England, Clements weaves a thrilling mystery surrounding the religious politics of the Tudor court. Shining light on the competing claims to the Queen's throne along with the forces abroad that seek to undermine the Protestant English crown.

Returning is John Dee, the astronomer and philosopher, who has served the Queen as a spy and advisor. He is disgraced and exiled from his honored spot for conjuring. His knack for the occult puts him in a prime position to influence the Holy Roman Emperor. Full of magic, danger, close scrapes, and intricate plots, there is plenty to pull this story along.

I enjoyed the time period and how closely Clements hewed to the historical record. Most of the characters are based on real people, and the mystery is based around true events that demonstrate the tenuous hold to power royals held in the 1500s.

The story did feel weighty with description and characters. At times, it was difficult to follow the different threads and drug with long descriptions of travel. I did listen to the first two books before starting this one. While I believe you can jump in mid-series, there are many references to prior trials and tribulations that will be more legible with the backstory.

This is a great series for historical fiction lovers who want the intrigue and court politics of the Elizabethan era that is solidly grounded in real events.

Thank you to @netgalley and @atriabooks for providing me with an advanced copy!
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This was an enjoyable entry in the series. I felt that the plot of this entry moved faster than the other two, but that is to be expected given the main characters have already been introduced. It can be read as a standalone, even though it mentions some events that happen in the previous entries. The elements of history are balanced nicely with fictionalized elements of the story. Together, they create an interesting tale full of suspense and mystery. A great book (and series!!) for fans of historical fiction. 

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, Atria Books, through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Perfect for fans of complex historical mysteries with their feet in facts- even if you like me have not read the earlier books in the series.  John Dee finds himself trying to undermine a possible alliance of the Holy Roman Empire with the enemies of Queen Elizabeth in this fast paced and at times funny tale of espionage and politics.  He's got a mysterious book to use with the Emperor- a book that purports to have the clue to controlling both earth and heaven-but life isn't going to be that simple.  It does help, I think, to have at least vague knowledge of the period (and know that I found myself doing some googling to check on who was who) but Clements pulls you in fast and keeps you reading.   Thanks to the publisher for the ARC.  Great read.
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I have to admit that when I first requested to review this book, I somehow missed that it is the 3rd book in a series. But I love this era in history -- all the politics, court intrigue, and treachery! -- so I jumped in and read without backtracking to start the series from the beginning. 

I am happy to report that I was able to follow the characters and plot of this book without having read any of the prior books in the series. I am going to back up and read the books in order now just to get the entire feel of Clements' writing and the tales he is building. I am a total nut for anything historical from the Tudor era, fiction or non-fiction. So I happily sipped tea and read this fictional story set in Queen Elizabeth I's reign. 

Some historical license is taken in this story. But, it's a fictionalized suspense/mystery story, so that's to be expected. The changes in fact were nothing major that pulled me out of the story. Minor historical license taken for the sake of story doesn't really bother me. 

All in all, a very entertaining read. I am going to jump back in at the first book and read my way through all three books before the next one comes out. 

**I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Atria Books. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**
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I was given an advance reading copy (arc) of this book from in return for a fair review. I thoroughly enjoyed the last Oliver Clements's book, The Queen's Men', which was the second in the series and I genuinely looked forward to the next installment. Clements has a wonderful writing style filled with snarky comments and laugh out loud moments. It always seems to me that he has as much fun writing these tales as I do reading them. This third book concerns our favorite hero, Dr. John Dee, who is sent to Prague in order to abort a crusade against England. From pornographic doors to magical books, there is never a dull moment. Colorful characters also abound including one Polish diplomat, Count Laski, who can't seem to stay out of trouble and who seems pretty sure that his mother's face adorns that pornographic door. We also learn a little more about Dee's long-suffering wife, Jane. All in all, it is a fun ride during the 1500s when Queen Elizabeth I ruled the land. My only complaint is that there are too many characters to keep track--the difference between a four and five star review. Rest assured, however, I will be looking for Clements's fourth volume just to see what Dr. Dee is up to next!
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Thank you to NetGalley, Atria Books and Oliver Clements for an ARC of this book. This is my unpaid and honest review of “All of the Queen’s Spies”. 
I love historical fiction, especially anything set during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Add in the mystical figure of John Dee and other figures from the Elizabethan spy ring and you’ve got a great story on your hands!
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These John Dee historical novels by Clements are simply great. Intelligent , well written , exciting , funny, excellent historical integration into the story—it checks all the boxes for a great historical fiction series. There is some of Flashman  by Fraser in these books which is high praise (at least from me) indeed. This is the third book in the series. Read them all. And best of all, the end of this book hints strongly that another one is in the works!  Can’t wait.
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"The "lively" (The New York Times) Agents of the Crown series continues with this thriller about Queen Elizabeth I's advisor John Dee in a race to save the Empire with the help of a mysterious manuscript that offers global power.

With rumors of the end times swirling, philosopher and astronomer John Dee travels to Prague in an effort to prevent one of Catherine de Medici's seductive ladies-in-waiting from luring the Holy Roman Emperor into a crusade against England.

To convince the famously occult-loving Emperor to join his side, Dee entices him with the esoteric Book of Secrets, a volume that, if decoded, could provide the chance to control the levers of heaven and earth. But Dee faces enemies at every turn, including a female codebreaker who could be the undoing of Dee and the British Empire."

Did someone say John Dee!?!
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I love this period and I love historical fiction taking place during this time. I was especially excited since it included John Dee. But the pacing was slow and it dragged at some points. I wanted to give this a chance but sometimes it was a bit dry. I did think it was a good concept!

I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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A thrilling historical novel that is full if excitement and intrigue. A Book of Secrets is a prop used to keep characters alive and or hunted down for death. Expertly plotted, vivid characterization and a very compelling read.
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England. 1583. Good Queen Bess sits on the throne. Her court and her country are besieged by threats. 

Her cousin Mary, pretender to the English throne, rules Scotland, and there is strong, albeit hidden, support for the Catholic Mary to usurp the crown. Secret plots abound. 

And word has reached England that Spain, at the time the greatest power in the known world, is assembling a large naval force (The Spanish Armada) in preparation for the invasion of England. (Philip of Spain, like Mary, Queen of Scots, believed he had a legitimate claim to the throne of England because he was the husband of Mary I at the time of her death. There was also a strong religious motivation for fiercely Catholic Spain to conquer Protestant England.)

Queen Elizabeth I and her advisors learn that her enemies are attempting to persuade The Holy Roman Emperor to join their crusade against England. (Rudolf II was the emperor of all the Germanys, the king of Hungary and Croatia, and the archduke of Austria.)  They decide they need to send someone to the court of Rudolf in Prague to prevent this alliance. 

Who to send? A trusted insider, fully apprised of the details of the operation? No, why not send John Dee, and not tell him anything about anything, and, hey, let’s not ask him to go, instead let’s trick him into it! 

John Dee was an astronomer and philosopher who was an occasional advisor to Queen Elizabeth and who, according to the first two books of this series (“The Eyes of the Queen” and “The Queen’s Men”), had previously assisted the crown in sensitive situations. He has been referred to as the original M16 agent. He signed his letters to Elizabeth as 007. (He also coined the phrase “the British Empire”.) His personal library was over three times the size of the libraries of Cambridge and Oxford combined. He really existed, but, by all that is historical, do not google him! (I wish that I had read this book without knowing that he looked like Rasputin.)

Dee was also interested in the occult, in alchemy, and in divination. This was not unusual at the time, when spirituality and magic were considered as legitimate as science as a means to acquire knowledge. Dee sought to contact angels through the use of a crystal gazer. However, the penalty for conjuring evil spirits or conjuring to seek treasure was death, so anyone seeking contact with spirits, even angels, was at risk. For how to prove that you were not attempting to contact the dark side?

Coincidentally, Rudolf II was fascinated with the supernatural and the mystical. Thus QE1 and her advisors were betting that these shared interests would gain Dee an audience. 

So. Magic, spies, lies, betrayal, danger, royalty, and a peek into life in Elizabethan England. This book has it all. Although this is historical fiction, the characters portrayed are, for the most part, based on real people. My favorite character is Christopher Marlowe, who arrives in the narrative like a breath of fresh air and whose eccentric personality and surprising actions help propel the pace of the story. 

Any fan of historical fiction will like this book. Almost no gore, although a man is racked. Almost no sex, although (gasp) a nipple is caressed. ⭐️⭐️⭐️. Publication date: March 14, 2023. 

My thanks to the author, Oliver Clements, to the publisher, Atria Books  (an imprint of Simon & Schuster), and to @NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book.
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This was another great entry in the Agents of the Crown series, it was what I was expecting from the series. I enjoyed the time-period going on and it had the same spark going on from each entry. Oliver Clements has a great style and it works so well, I was glad I was given the chance to read this and look forward to more from Oliver Clements.

"And they’d watched the man of law bustle down to Throckmorton House, and then scarcely an hour later, just as it was getting dark, a servant had detached himself from the shadows at the rear of the house and set off toward Salisbury Court."
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