Cover image for Gloriana's torch
Gloriana's torch
Finney, Patricia, 1958-
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
x, 452 pages ; 25 cm
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The year is 1587. The Spanish are preparing to launch the Armada against the English and Queen Elizabeth. Ex-soldier David Becket, now responsible for the Queen's Ordnance discovers that large quantities of gunpowder are going astray. Can someone in the heart of the English government be selling it to the Spanish? Unaccountably he is plagued by vivid dreams of England invaded, an alternative story where the Armada is victorious. Patricia Finney's brilliant reworking of the Armada legendis an imaginative tour de force. Thrilling, intricate, and inspiring, this is a tale of courage, of love, and, ultimately, redemption

Author Notes

Patricia Finney attended Oxford, where she read history. Her first novel, A Shadow of Gulls , won the prestigious David Higham award. Gloriana's Torch is her fifth novel. She lives in England.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Third in a series of related but stand-alone historical thrillers (Unicorn's Blood; Firedrake's Eye), this brooding, multifaceted tale is set on the eve of the sailing of the Spanish Armada in 1588. David Becket, clerk of the ordnance and sometime spy for Elizabeth I, is ordered by the queen to discover the details of a top-secret Spanish plot dubbed the "Miracle of Beauty." In addition, Becket is commanded to rescue his fellow English spy and friend, Simon Ames, who has been condemned by the Spanish Inquisition as a heretic. Simon escapes burning as a Jew only to be consigned as a galley slave to a new and powerful Spanish warship that may prove to be England's undoing-especially when coupled with Spanish plans to take a key French port. Ames's wife, Rebecca, insists on traveling with Becket to find Ames, and when he tries to stop her, she outwits him and takes his ship, assisted by one of Becket's old enemies. Becket, undaunted, makes his way to France with Rebecca's former servant, Merula, a black woman with shamanic powers who has, by guile bordering on magic, worked her way north from Africa in search of her enslaved son. Becket was a deeply wounded soul after his wrongful imprisonment and torture in Unicorn's Blood, and Merula offers him spiritual healing. The various threads of this wide-ranging tale of intrigue do not come together neatly, but Finney's vivid prose and the high level of historical imagination on display make for a satisfying read. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Critics raved about Unicorn's Blood and Firedrake's Eye, the first two books in a trilogy set in late 16th-century England, and this last novel will surely elicit plaudits as well. Finney vividly animates the complexities of this period, in which religious issues continue to divide not only England but the rest of the known world, slavery extends its tentacles ever further into Europe, and the Virgin Queen is beset by both domestic and foreign threats to her rule. The immediate danger is that Philip II of Spain is intent on invading England and restoring a Catholic monarch to the throne. Two of Elizabeth's loyal subjects, David Becket and Simon Ames (who figure prominently in the earlier novels), are caught up in the events of the day. Becket, still recovering physically and emotionally from horrendous experiences as a prisoner in the Tower of London, discovers that large quantities of gunpowder destined for use against the invaders have disappeared. Has a traitor diverted them to the Spanish cause? Meanwhile, Ames is captured by the Inquisition in Lisbon while on a secret mission for the queen and is forced to serve as a galley slave on a boat in the Spanish Armada. Becket; Ames's wife, Rebecca; and her African slave, Merula (one of the best-drawn characters in the book), set out on the difficult task of rescuing Ames. Historical fiction doesn't come any better than this. Highly recommended for all collections-and buy the first two as well.-Nancy Pearl, Washington Ctr. for the Book, Seattle (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.