Sunday, 29 April 2012

Book Review: Virgin and the Crab by Robert Parry

‘And what of we two, master Dee?
Our nativities are oddly matched, are they not: the Virgin and the Crab.’
-          Excerpt from Virgin and the Crab

Virgin and the Crab transports the reader back in time beginning with the death of King Henry VIII through to the accession of his daughter, Elizabeth I. Though a familiar tale, this novel revolves around the little known tale, that of the relationship between Elizabeth Tudor and her tutor, John Dee.
Robert has a remarkable way of being able to transport the reader back in time, his story envelopes the reader, the lines between reality and fantasy seemingly blur; allowing the reader to truly envisage the tumultuous times of Tudor England.
Our main character, John Dee is simply an amazing man; mathematician, astrologer, navigator, scientist, alchemist, magician, master of disguise and confidant to Elizabeth I, this is surely a man you would wish to have by your side. A member of the mysterious brotherhood, the Rose Lodge he devotes his life’s essence into guiding England towards enlightenment and realisation that the Lady Elizabeth is vital in order to bring about England’s Golden Age.
A tale full of intrigue and magic, it draws the reader into its powerful web introducing Tudor England and all its accompaniments; of the plotting courtiers out for their own self gain, of the betrayals and also the loyalty, love and friendship sealed by years of shared ups and downs and of the importance of these relationships, even in the darkest of times, Elizabeth’s guiding light.
This novel manages to portray the rise of Elizabeth I without daunting the reader, Robert managing to retell the story in a mere 480 pages. Coupled with the usual suspects including; William Cecil, Robert Dudley, Jane Grey, Thomas Wyatt, Queen Mary, Philip of Spain along with all the subsidiary characters associated with them, this novel is undoubtedly a must read for anyone who loves Tudor historical fiction and whom wishes to experience the masterful Robert at his theatrical best.
This novel brings to life the relationship shared between Elizabeth Tudor and her friend and tutor John Dee. Robert breathes life into an untold story; he manages to blur fact and fiction resulting in a truly believable portrayal of their relationship, leaving the reader with much to ponder long after the last page has been turned.