The Saracen's Mark

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 18 Mar 2020

Member Reviews

Imagine your most comfy shoes and your cosiest jumper - this is were I find myself back in the third Nicholas Shelby/Bianca Merton story by S. W. Parry.
The characters have developed but thankfully not beyond recognition and the plot is as engaging as ever. A pinch of spice is added with the setting of part of the story in Marrakech and the twists are as subtly hinted as ever.
You will go on a sensory journey, taking you from the sights, smells and sounds of London’s Bankside to the exotic world of the Moors.
Parry is superb at dropping people’s idiosynchrasies into the narrative, a twitch, a furrowed brow, a furtive sideways glance. He plays with the reader, setting traps, red herrings and cliff hangers like so many expertly cast spells.
A highly, highly alluring read!
Was this review helpful?
The book is set in a plague-ridden London and a mysterious and intriguing Marrakech, during the reign of Elizabeth the First.
The author authentically captures the historical mood and idioms of both cities during that period. The main protagonists, Nicholas Shelby and Bianca Merton are well rounded yet complex characters. 
The story is absorbing with many unexpected twists to keep the reader fully immersed in the story. I was previously unaware of the important trade between the Arab world and Europe, especially in Saltpetre – a vital component of gunpowder. 
SW Perry, the author, gives a thought-provoking description of London in the midst of a plague epidemic. We can perhaps make comparisons to the current period of mankind being devastated by the Covid-19 virus pandemic, with no known cure. Of course, social distancing in Elizabethan England was not possible except for the very wealthy.
I understand that there are two more novels in this series, which I intend to read in the future. 
To summarise, the Saracen's Mark is a good read for those who enjoy historical novels, well researched, a fascinating plot and totally absorbing.
Was this review helpful?
The Saracen’s Mark is the third book in the Nicholas Shelby and Bianca Merton series set in the late 1500s England.

Set to a background of pestilence and conspiracy this is a very engaging and enjoyable historical fiction book that kept me hooked from the first page until the last one.

The author, S. W. Perry, clearly knows his subject and he brings sixteenth century London to life without drowning out the underlying storyline.

Shelby is requested by the Queen’s spymaster, Robert Cecil, to undertake a difficult and dangerous mission overseas whilst Merton has to fight both the plague and other threats at home.

There are a number of twists and turns throughout this novel which is definitely one that I would fully recommend.
Was this review helpful?
I loved all the instalments in this series and this one was no exception.
The plot is full of twists and turns and it's well told as usual. There's a lot of character development and the historical background is vivid and well researched.
It was an engrossing and entertaining read, strongly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
Was this review helpful?
I love these books a lot! I read the first two and if you like historical fiction they are totally recommended. 
This one also didn't disappoint. Well written, intriguing, well researched and it's a joy to go back in time with these characters. 

Thanks a lot to NG and the publisher for this copy.
Was this review helpful?
London 1593. While Bianca manages her pub and apothecary shop in Southwark, her physician partner Nicholas is ordered by Robert Cecil to sail to the Barbary Coast to study Islamic treatment methods.
From here the story alternates between Britain and Morocco, allied government dealings, conspiracies and different cultures. In London the pestilence holds the city hostage, in Morocco the slave trade is in full operation.

The Sarencen's Mark is an action packed historical novel moving at a slow pace, giving the reader a lot of time to contemplate the events and take in all the sights and smells. 

Thank you Netgalley and Atlantic Books for the ARC.
Was this review helpful?
This is set in the Elizabethan time. It is the third book in a series written by the same author with the original characters.

Just like the other books, this book follows Nicholas Shelby, an unusual English physician who also helps those in power solve conspiracy theories. 

In this book, Nicholas must help Robert Cecil find out what had happened to his acquaintance, Adolfo Sykes in Marrakech. Despite refusing to go as he intends to wed Bianca Merton, an apothecary who helps him and others in the poorer area by the Thames also the impending plague. He is coerced in doing Robert's bidding.

The book is well written with vivid descriptions and dialogues. I liked how it made references to areas near the Thames in London and Marrakech in Morocco, places that I know. I don't really read books set in the Elizabethan Era so I didn't like some of the old terms that were used as I didn't quite understand them but it makes the story more realistic and other readers may find it more engaging.
Was this review helpful?
Another great adventure of Nicholas Shelby and Bianca Merton from S.W. Perry. This time Nicholas is again pulled in Robert Cecil's spying game despite trying to get out of it but Cecil is a persuasive man. This time it takes him to Morocco while Bianca finds herself deeply involved in something that she has no understanding of back home in Bankside. Both surviving brushes with death by a millimetre. I loved this story as with all S.W. Perry's books and this one is as good if not better than others. I couldn't put it down: many hours of being deeply engrossed in the 16th century and in the fascinating world in Morocco.
Was this review helpful?
Firstly thanks to the publisher for an advanced copy of this book. 

This is the third in the series concerning Dr Nick Shelby, Bianca and their "almost" family members set in Elizabethan England. I have really enjoyed the previous 2 books and this one also does not disappoint. This book is set over 2 continents and tells the story of how Nick and Bianca deal with their own mysteries in their own ways, and if left unsolved these mysteries will have a catastrophic outcome to England and the Queen in particular. 
This series just gets better and better and I truly hope that the 4th installment will not be long in being published. I would recommend however that you read these books in order to ensure you understand the journey they have both been through. 

I highly recommend this book to those who have already read the first 2 and if you haven't start at the beginning you will not be sorry.
Was this review helpful?
I loved reading this book. Loved it.

The third book in the Jackdaw Mysteries series is another brilliant read, and somehow manages to improve on the previous 2 books. 

This time we find reluctant spy Nicholas Shelby sent halfway across the world to Morocco to uncover a plot, and at the same time in plague ridden London, Bianca inexplicable finds herself investigating the same murderous plot.

Perry's writing style is effortless. The interplay and dialogue between the characters is so natural, and the plot develops so quickly that there's no need for any filler. He brings 16th century London to life just as vividly as CJ Sansom and Rory Clements.

I love the cast of characters in this series, i love the setting and i love the feel of the books. They're great page turners, and just all round good fun. I cannot wait for book 4.
Was this review helpful?
The third in this wonderful series featuring Nicholas Shelby and Bianca Merton.  This book, set in 1593, takes the action to Marrakech in Morocco.  As always S. W. Perry has produced a well-researched story with truly likeable characters.  The plot is well-thought out and provides lots of suspense and tension.  An excellent read that not only entertained but increased my knowledge of the medieval Islamic world.  Highly recommended.
Was this review helpful?
This is the third in the Jackdaw series of mystery novels of S W Perry featuring his two protagonists, Nicholas Shelby, free-thinking physician, and his beautiful Anglo Italian friend and companion, the apothecary and Bankside tavern keeper, Bianca Merton. 

The action begins, however, far from the London of 1593, in the streets of Marrakech where Adolfo Sykes, agent of the Barbary Company of London, founded by the Earls of Warwick and Leicester, is ambushed and seized on his way to the city hospital, the Bimaristan al-Mansur. 

Back in London, Nicholas Shelby is summoned from his bed by Robert Cecil, privy councillor and son of Lord Burghley, the Lord Treasurer. The reason for the summons initially appears straightforward. Robert Cecil and his wife are worried that their two-year old son, William, has contracted the plague which has returned to London. Nicholas is able to put their minds at rest on that score and it is only then that Cecil’s real purpose in summoning him is revealed.

We learn that Adolfo Sykes is not only the Barbary Company factor in Marrakech but also an agent of Robert Cecil. Cecil is concerned that he has not heard from his spy for several weeks and wants Nicholas to travel to Marrakech to investigate what has happened. This is an important mission because England’s defences are dependent upon the saltpetre that it receives from Morocco in exchange for matchlock muskets. This high-quality saltpetre is used to produce more powerful gunpowder that ensures that the English navy’s ships have maximum firepower.

The murder of Solomon Mandel, a Jewish Bankside resident and customer of the Jackdaw Tavern, draws Nicholas and Bianca into this unfolding mystery. While Bianca remains in London, struggling to defend Bankside from the threat of the plague as it advances relentlessly into Southwark, Nicholas realises that Robert Cecil will use any means possible to ensure Nicholas does his bidding and, in spite of Bianca’s protestations, travels to Marrakech. There he uncovers an international conspiracy that threatens England’s security. 

The author has woven together seamlessly his knowledge of England’s developing relationship with the Arab world at the end of the sixteenth century, and the importance of Arab writers to the development of medicine in Europe at that time, with a fast paced, action-packed adventure that covers two continents and has enough twists and turns to satisfy the most demanding reader. 

I would like to express my thanks to Net Galley and Atlantic Books/Corvus for making a free download of this book available to me.
Was this review helpful?