Book Review: The Scar-Crow Men

Book two of the Swords of Albion series finds Will Swyfte, a spy, swordsman, scholar and general scoundrel facing his darkest hours with nary an ally watching his back. As the scourge of Black Death ravages the English countryside, Queen Elizabeth inexplicitly remains secreted in the palace, seemingly without regard for her subjects’ fate. Will’s old mentor and spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham died and his replacement, concerned about his own petty schemes, could care less that English spies are turning up dead all over London.

During the opening show of Christopher Marlowe’s play Dr. Faustus, a devil appears on stage taking the likeness of Will’s long-last love Jenny with a personal, horrible message only he can hear. That night, Christopher is murdered and Will vows to do whatever it takes to avenge his friend but he must face a host of human and supernatural creatures with nothing but his wits and sword as the Unseelie Court sets their plans to overthrow Queen Elizabeth into motion.

Chadbourn’s vividly imagined setting makes this odd combination of historical fantasy and thriller spring to life. Plenty of action coupled with the dark times of the Black Death will hold even the most jaded reader’s interest and leave them looking for more sixteenth century adventure.

 

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