In this first novel of the “rollicking” (The New York Times Book Review) Agents of the Crown series, the man who will become the original MI6 agent protects England and Queen Elizabeth I from Spain’s nefarious plan to crush the Age of Enlightenment.
After centuries locked in an endless cycle of poverty, persecution, and barbarity, Europe has finally emerged into the Age of Enlightenment. Scientists, philosophers, scholars, and poets alike believe this to be a new era of reason and hope for all. But the forces of darkness haven’t completely dissipated, as Spain hunts and butchers any who dare to defy its ironclad Catholic orthodoxy.
Only one nation can fight the black shadow that threatens this new age, and that is Britain, now ruled by a brilliant young Queen Elizabeth I. But although she may be brave and headstrong, Elizabeth knows she cannot win this war simply by force of arms. Elizabeth needs a new kind of weapon forged to fight a new kind of war, in which stealth and secrecy, not bloodshed, are the means.
In this tense situation, Her Majesty’s Secret Service is born with the charismatic John Dee at its head. A scholar, a soldier, and an alchemist, Dee is loyal only to the truth and to his Queen. And for her, the woman he’s forbidden from loving, he is prepared to risk his life in this “twisty, fast-paced debut” (Publishers Weekly).
"Matthew Lloyd Davies narrates the first Agents of the Crown series with subtlety and intelligence. It's 1572. The rivalry between Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots, has reached the boiling point. Elizabeth's treasury is devastated, her army is decimated, and the Spanish are pressing for Catholic Mary to replace her Protestant cousin on the throne. Tension mounts after the queen's spymaster, Francis Walsingham, loses a secret document that could change the balance of power in Europe. Walsingham appeals to John Dee, a scholar and cryptologist, to locate and decode the document. Lloyd Davies masterfully moves Dee through double-dealing opponents, treachery, and graphic violence in this well-researched historical fiction. Lloyd Davies's clear diction, tone, and attitude reflect both period and situation."