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(Christopher Radcliff #1)

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  767 ratings  ·  52 reviews
Librarian note: older cover of 9780552172387.

England in 1572 is a powder keg of rumour, fanaticism, treachery and dissent. All it would take is a single spark . . .

In the England of Elizabeth I, the fear of plague and invasion, and the threat of insurrection are constant. As the Earl of Leicester's chief intelligencer, lawyer Dr Christopher Radcliff is tasked with investig
Paperback, 416 pages
Published March 8th 2017 by Corgi (first published February 23rd 2017)
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Andrew Swanston Yes. Three 'Thomas Hill' stories - King's Spy, King's Exile and King's Return. Also Waterloo: The Bravest Man. And 'Beautiful Star and Other Stories' …moreYes. Three 'Thomas Hill' stories - King's Spy, King's Exile and King's Return. Also Waterloo: The Bravest Man. And 'Beautiful Star and Other Stories' to be published in January 2018.(less)
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Average rating 4.03  · 
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Feb 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5* rounded up because I want to see more from this series.

Incendium is a historical spy fiction set during the reign of Elisabeth I. Christopher Radcliff, a former law professor is employed by Earl of Leicester, a close adviser to the Queen, as chief intelligencer. His job is to keep the Earl informed regarding potentials plots against the Crown. Dr. Radcliff engages the help of a series of interesting agents who listen around and report if they hear any interesting whispers.

The novel begins
Apr 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
AD Swanson knows his Elizabethan history as he illustrates in this piece of historical fiction of 1572, the first in the Dr Christopher Radcliff series, set in stinking, poverty ridden, London, although there is a harrowing picture of Paris, with its out of control terror, butchery and massacre of Huguenots. Radcliff is a Law Professor, no longer able to work in Cambridge and now is Robert Dudley's (Earl of Leicester) chief spy and intelligence gatherer of plots and conspiracies aimed at removin ...more
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
The guards came that night. Christopher was roused and told to dress. Where am I to be taken?" he asked, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. "The tower," replied one of the guards. "The Earl of Leicester has commanded it." Christopher swore. Had the earl changed his mind again? They travelled by barge to the Tower stairs. Christopher huddled into his cloak against the night cold. To their left, glimmers of light from watchmen's lanterns flickered in the blackness; to their right the marshes and mea ...more
Blodeuedd Finland
I have said it before, but historical mysteries really fit me. They have to work so hard to find anything, in a good way.

In this one Radcliffe, a lawyer works for the Earl of Leicester. And there is a plot afoot. Does someone want to kill the queen? Who can be trusted? Tensions between Catholics and the rest are rising. France is making moves, Spain is making moves. And Radcliffe is meant to try to figure out what is going on, and then there is the word, Incendium.

Who was behind it. Oh I could
Such a fantastic start to A.D. Swanston's new series! Incendium focuses on the very real danger Elizabeth I faced personally in the wake of France's St Bartholomew's Eve massacre. A brilliant historical thriller.

Karen ⊰✿
Aug 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In London 1572, lawyer Dr Christopher Radcliff is given the task by the Earl of Leicester to find out about a plot to kill Queen Elizabeth and restore the Catholic Queen Mary.
We follow Christopher from London to Paris and back again as he chases down fragments of a plot - the only thing of which he is sure of is that it is named Incendium. The Queen and the Earl are unforgiving and so Christopher knows he must succeed, not just to save the Queen, but to also save himself and those close to him f
Ted Farrell
Apr 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent story of intrigue and espionage in Elizabethan England. The characters are well drawn and the background, London in the late sixteenth century, is both plausible and interesting. The historical context, the enmity between Catholic France and Spain, on the one hand, and Protestant England, on the other, is recounted almost effortlessly without recourse to long, boring passages. I'd recommended to anyone with an interest in historical fiction. ...more
Aug 27, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Terrible. I was so looking forward to reading it, and it disappointed me to no end. The historical background is sound, but nothing is happening. I'm 10%, and they're still at the office the main character entered on the first page. There is telling, and telling and telling, no kind of action to help us understand who these people are, and what their personalities are like. I hoped for more than this - some emotion, some suspense, maybe some less known historical details, but none of those were ...more
Jul 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another good read
Jan 22, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in Elizabethan times, this is the story of a plot to replace Elizabeth I with Mary, Queen of Scots. It mixes fact with fiction.

I really enjoyed the book. The characters were believable and at times I felt myself transported to 16th century London. Whilst the story was slow, I never felt bored.

The writing was, on the whole, good and engaging.

My only criticism (and it's a slight one) is that I noticed the author using the same phrases scattered throughout the book. Perhaps that's just me with
Karen Keane
Apr 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Murder, mystery and spies in Elizabethan England, the main players of the time such as the Earl of Leicester and Sir Francis Walsingham all have major parts in this book. The protagonist of the book is a lawyer Christopher Radcliff, who has his own group of intelligences all ready to spy for him for money and England. A well wrote and thought out book on the lines of C J Sandom and a really easy, interesting read.
Incendium ... fire and death in the name of piety ...

I love historical mystery fiction - especially when featuring some ell known players such as Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester and favourite of Queen Elizabeth I of England.

As in reality, there is a plot against the Queen following what was known as the Ridolfi Plot (1571). There were plots on both sides of the English Channel as Paris prepares for the wedding of Henry of Navarre and Marguerite de Valois (which in itself is just a prelude to th
Lindsey Roberts
Feb 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Original Review Here

As soon as I saw Incendium by A.D. Swanston, I wanted it! The cover is beautiful! Never mind `don’t-judge-a-book-by-its-cover` – I wanted this book!

It did not let me down.

I haven’t read anything set in this era since I was a child and reading The Lady Grace Mysteries. It was refreshing to immerse myself in a different time and Swanston made this time accessible – I picked up on the way of life pretty much straight away!

The plot involves mystery, murder and a man trying to fig
Mar 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I am notoriously picky when it comes to historical fiction. One of the problems of having studied history is that I both love reading historical fiction and yet also find it incredibly easy to be thrown out of enjoying the story just because of a simple inaccuracy. This is even more applicable when it comes to anything to do with Elizabethan England, aka one of my main specialisms. So A.D.Swanston had a series of significant obstacles to get over for me to even stand a chance of enjoying this bo ...more
Jo-anne Atkinson
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
London in the mid 1570s and rumour abounds of plots against the Queen with both Catholic nations at their centre. When one of his informants disappeared Radcliff is concerned but his paymaster, the Earl of Leicester, has other plans for him. Radcliff is sent to France to liaise with Sir Francis Walsingham and find out what he can against about a plot named Incendium which will destroy Elizabeth and put her cousin Mary (Queen of Scots) on the throne. In Paris Radcliff is caught up in the St Barth ...more
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Incendium Plot is a really sleek thriller which has all the hallmarks of a great whodunit and set, as it is, against a backdrop of the glorious Elizabethan age there is much to enjoy, both in terms of historical background, which is beautifully authentic, and also in the sharpness of the investigative process. Radcliff is a likeable character, methodical, meticulous and with never a clue left uninvestigated, you feel as though you are in safe pair of hand as he moves stealthily through some ...more
Boar's Head Eastcheap
This is the first in a new series, and much as I love this period (and am increasingly interested in historical fiction) I'm not convinced I'll follow Christopher Radcliff's adventures. Not, at least, at full price.

To begin with, the book feels bloated: cut 25% and it might have been a reasonably pacy thriller. In fact, had I not read it over a weekend when I was too ill to leave my bed, I might not have finished it. So many books; so little time, etc

There were also places where I was hyper-awar
Fred Bloggs
Feb 21, 2021 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
No ear for dialogue

And a bit of an obsession with period vocabulary, as if that sets a scene. Oh yes, as soon as you mention "scroyles", I'm transported to Tudor England. Even the quotes offered as teasers on this page show this - what's a "Maunderer", and more importantly, who cares? It's like the old tv trope of the serving "wenches" with low cut tops - nice, but a bit of an insult to ones intelligence. If that stuff floats your boat then good for you. Mine is sunk by now - I remember now why
Rekha O'Sullivan
Aug 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Christopher Radcliffe serves the Earl of Leicester in this Elizabethan historical mystery. Queen Elizabeth has her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, locked up in the Tower and enemies from France and Spain are threatening her Protestant people. With religious tensions reaching their height, friends of Radcliffe's disappear, and then he is summoned by the Earl of Leicester to investigate a possible plot against the Queen.

Radcliffe has his share of personal issues with his lady love refusing to marry h
Anne Brown
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love historical fiction, especially about the Elizabethan period so Incendium was right up my street. Doctor Christopher Radcliffe, ex Cambridge academic, is in London and is employed by the Earl of Leicester to gather information, amongst other tasks. The Earl has heard whispers about another plot against the Queen. This one might have the support of the Spanish, the French, the Scots or the Irish; or indeed any combination of these. When one of Christopher’s informants disappears, along with ...more
Gareth Russell
Oct 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
A rip-roaring cross between a murder mystery and an old-fashioned swashbuckler. Taking place in the aftermath of the Ridolfi Plot and the Saint Bartholomew’s Eve horror, the novel focuses on another plot, a fictitious one drawn from the author’s imagination that credibly blurs various details from the numerous intrigues against Elizabeth I in the 1570s.

There are a few clangers - such as a Huguenot falling on her knees to bless herself with the sign of the Cross and a few heavily expositional pi
Jun 17, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kept me entertained

This is a perfectly good historical mystery with enough forward movement to keep you turning the pages.

That said there are moments where the plot is clearly moving the characters about because there is no internal logic for some of the rather idiotic choices which were made. There were also moments when exposition was made the expense of character and one point, which remains stuck in my mind despite it happening in the first half of the book, where another character spoke, a
Eric Bruce
Mar 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know much about 16th century English history , but in Scotland there is a far greater respect for Mary, Queen of Scots than the author offers. I learned much more about bear-bating than I knew previously and a little more about the rack. Deliberately or otherwise, A D Swanston reveals a significant difference in attitude between those from the south of England and those from further north - something which remains 4 centuries later. An entertaining read with an interesting principal char ...more
Helen Howerton
Elizabethan thriller centered around supporters of the imprisoned Queen Mary and a plot to kill Elizabeth. This one involves an "intelligencer" for the Earl of Leicester, who's tasked to ferret out such things, and does it in a very credible fashion, after a lot of twists and turns and a trip to Paris, where he witnesses what history has come to call the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.

The author's done his research, the action moves along nicely and the characters are finely drawn and individual
Rachael McDiarmid
Apr 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Oh I do love a good book set in Tudor times. Traitors, spies, heretics, and Elizabethan politics. What a mix. I’m looking forward to reading more Christopher Radcliff. I found him a good character and an interesting one. Even the Earl of Leicester was written well. As were Katherine and Ell as the female sidekicks. I enjoyed this and read it within a few days. A good read indeed (well if you love a “spy thriller” set in the 1500s haha)...
Margaret McCulloch-Keeble
Nov 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
The sticker on the front boldly states 'as good as C J Sansom or your money back'. I have to admit on the whole I preferred the Shardlake Series, but it was a close run thing. I think this lost its way mid way through and that was perhaps what swayed me. The ending was quite tense if a little predictable. I get the feeling that this is probably going to be followed up with others in a series. Some interesting characters who no doubt will feature again. ...more
george scott
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good read

Being a follower of CJ Sansom's Shardlake novels I decided to try this book which is set in the later Elizabethan period. An enjoyable read with a good lead character in Christopher Radcliffe, agent of the Earl of Leicester, this books invokes the intrigue of the royal court and some of the horror of violent times. London was a dangerous place for many people and is well depicted here, a good start to a series.
May 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The descriptions are vivid and I really got a sense of what life was like in London in 1572. The first quarter of the book dragged somewhat, but from that point on the plot picked up the pace and I raced through the final chapters. An enjoyable read for any fan of historical fiction/mysteries/whodunnits/thrillers! I wonder if Swanston plans more? There seems to be much more to explore about Radcliff and the Earl of Leicester.
Charles Haworth
Aug 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another good historical mystery

Our protagonist solves a crime against the Queen and all of England, primarily by walking about a lot and asking a few questions of some contacts and not being killed. "Police" work in these days is fairly unsophisticated to say the least and the Court and its own politics are at least as dangerous as the criminals

Being tortured in the tower does not sound nice
Overall good
Nov 30, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I, who gleefully suspend belief in every book I read saw every twist and evil doer right away. There were no surprises, except perhaps that the love interest, who the hero thinks is a brilliant woman is only petulant. I kept waiting for her to show her worth...that never happening was the only thing that surprised me.
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Aka Andrew Swanston.

Andrew Swanston read Law at Cambridge University, and held various positions in the book trade, including being a director of Waterstone & Co, and chairman of Methven’s plc, before turning to writing. Inspired by a lifelong interest in seventeenth century history, his ‘Thomas Hill’ novels are set during the English Civil Wars, and the early period of the Restoration. He lives w

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