Thursday, August 14, 2014

Review: Treachery by S.J. Parris

Treachery (Giordano Bruno, Book #4)
by S.J. Parris
Release Date: June 17th, 2014
2014 Doubleday Canada
Softcover Edition; 544 Pages
ISBN: 978-0385679985
Genre: Fiction / Historical / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Pages

Summer, 1585: As English ships are held captive in Spain, fear mounts of an Invincible Armada, built by King Philip II, and intended to invade English shores. Sir Francis Drake prepares to embark on an expedition by royal commission to cross the Atlantic and seize major Spanish ports, diverting Philip's American treasure supplies to Queen Elizabeth. Giordano Bruno, radical philosopher and spy, accompanies his friend Sir Philip Sidney to Plymouth to oversee Drake's departure. Unbeknownst to Bruno, Sidney intends to join the mission - and he wants Bruno to go too. But when a ship captain is brutally murdered, and Drake's life threatened, it becomes clear that someone plans to destroy the expedition before it begins. Bruno and Sidney hunt for the killer, but are they being lured into a trap? And when Drake's young wife and her cousin arrive, Bruno and Sidney find themselves thrown into an unexpected rivalry.

My Thoughts 
Treachery is the fourth book in the Giordano Bruno series and this time, Dr. Bruno heads to Plymouth on the eve of a momentous occasion, the Great Expedition, led by the famous Sir Francis Drake.  For those of you not familiar with this time period, the Expedition was mounted to attack the Spanish colonies when Spain (Philip II) declared war after the Treaty of Nonsuch.  In command of over 1800 men and 21 ships, Sir Francis left in September 1585.  Knowing quite a bit of this history, I was intrigued to see how how Ms. Parris would treat the subject, and I was not disappointed.  Intrigue, mystery, secrets, and her usual flair for historical detail abound in this novel and I was somewhat disappointed when the ending came, knowing I would have to wait for the next book.

For those of you not familiar with this series, Giordano Bruno is a real-life figure and his story is very interesting, creating controversy even today.  It was because I was familiar with his story that I began reading this series, and I have not been disappointed at all.  Bruno is one of those characters with whom I identify, and his character has just developed from book to book.  In all of his books, he is hunted, constantly having to watch his back living in exile from Italy, defending his works that are famous in Europe, and defending his principles and his morals.  He is constantly struggling with himself and his beliefs, wondering if he did the right thing, often being haunted by past actions.  I adore the character that Ms. Parris has created, and knowing what will happen to him, read each book with trepidation and fear.  I find in this book, Bruno has kind of taken on a different role, one where everyone looks upon him as being a 'saviour', the person who can resolve all difficulties without causing a huge scandal and allow Drake to continue his expedition as planned.  Interesting!!

I also liked the secondary characters and their development.  Sir Philip Sidney was given a bigger role in this one, one that makes him seem petulant, like a child whining about a toy he has trouble getting, but also you get a better understanding of the walls that surround such a man because of his birth.  One of the things I definitely have admired about this series is the serious gap between the gentry and everyone else;  Ms. Parris definitely shows the reader how difficult life was for either class, but in different ways.  

In terms of plot, I figured out who was the murderer quite early, but I think it was because all the novels are formulaic when it comes to the set-up and the denouement so if you have read all of the novels it can be easy to pick up the patterns.  I actually didn't mind knowing as Ms. Parris is such a skillful writer that it was fun seeing how she would pull all the threads together in the end and how Bruno would eventually discover who actually committed the crime.  There were several sub-plots to this novel, one that has carried from a previous novel, so I am not sure if this novel is the best one to begin with if you are new to the series;  I think some things might make more sense if you read the books in order.  The twists and turns were quite fascinating and I was caught unawares with some of them, putting Bruno in lots of danger.  There was a good mix between the action and the dialogue which I liked.

Treachery is a good addition to the Giordano Bruno series and had plenty of action and suspense.  There was a lot of intrigue, some of which will carry over into the next book of the series, and that is something I look forward to.  As always, Ms. Parris' research is fantastic, and I can definitely picture Plymouth as it looked during that time period; I love her descriptions of everything from dress, to food, to the ships, to the behaviours of the people.  One of the things I would like to see more of in future novels though, are Bruno's personal works, which were quite famous during this time period, as I feel this is an area that has been somewhat neglected.  Naturally, I can't wait to read about the further adventures of Bruno when the next book is released May 2015.