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The Devil's Apprentice Hardcover – August 20, 2001

Book 11 of 16 in the Nicholas Bracewell Series

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; 1st edition (August 20, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312265743
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312265748
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.9 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,501,101 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Murder makes a late entrance in Marston's (The Wanton Angel, etc.) 11th Elizabethan adventure, but enough else of interest is going on to keep the reader engaged. The inn yard of the Queen's Head, London, home of Lord Westfield's Men, lies icy, cold and deserted in the wake of a long bitter winter that has left the members of the company unemployed and desperate. When they get the opportunity to perform six plays at the Essex estate of Sir Michael Greenleaf, the leaders of the company are elated. However, there are two conditions: they must accept Davy Stratton, the son of a successful Essex merchant, as an apprentice, and one of the plays that they perform must be entirely new. An interview with young Davy persuades them to accept him, while a new play, The Witch of Rochester, written by a disgruntled lawyer, promises to be a hit. The joy of the company is short-lived as one catastrophe after another threatens to halt their productions. The playwright lawyer becomes belligerent, an avid Puritan attempts to prevent the company from performing in Essex and Davy himself causes more mayhem and havoc than could ever have been anticipated. When a member of the audience drops dead during one of the performances, series hero Nicholas Bracewell determines to seek the truth. Lively characters, meticulous attention to historical detail, humor and wit more than compensate for the plot's slow evolution. (Aug. 20)including The Wildcats of Exeter (Forecasts, Dec. 4, 2000).

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Series protagonist Nicholas Bracewell (The Wanton Angel), Elizabethan stage manager, fends off accusations of witchcraft and worse after the troupe performs at a manor house in Essex. A new apprentice taken on there seems to be at the root of the trouble. Lively and entertaining; for fans of Elizabethan historicals.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By tregatt on August 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The Nicholas Bracewell Elizabethan Theatre series is hands down my favourite Elizabethan mystery series. Edward Marston (the authour) does a masterful job of combining broad humour with an intriguing plot and an in-depth look at the workings of a theatre troupe in 16th century England. Another plus: this series is almost always consistently good.
England is currently blanketed with horrendously bad winter weather, and the Westfield's Men face a season of being out of work, when good fortune practically leaps into their laps. They are offered the chance to give a weeek and a half' s worth of performances at Silvermere, Sir Michael Greenleaf's country house in Essex. There are however two conditions that must be met: 1) that they perform at least one entirely new play, and 2) that they take on an apprentice -- 10 year old Davy Stratton, the son of merchant Jerome Stratton, a friend of Sir Michael's. On the surface, these conditions seems completely easy ones. But little do the Westfield's Men know what is in store for them!
From the very beginning Nicholas senses that there's something not quite right about Davy's relationship with his father. Nicholas's suspicions prove to be correct when, on a reconnaissance trip to Silvermere, Davy runs away the very first chance he gets. And when Jerome Stratton returns his errant son to Nicholas, both father and son claim that Davy's horse ran away with him. Nicholas doesn't buy the story, but cannot get Davy to open up to him. Soon after, Davy's begins to pull some rather nasty pranks on the other apprentices, and earns himself a rather unappetizing nickname with the players: the devil's apprentice. Nicholas cannot quite make out what's wrong with Davy. He sense that the boy is an innately a good and nice child, but that Davy is also very unhappy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jan Neckers on December 27, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Slowly but surely the Nic Bracewell-mysteries are changing tack.
The inevitable murder more and more enters late into the story and seems to be somewhat less important. In a book of 273 pages the one and only murder is committed on page 181 and it is not even clear (and even not important) why it's done. Moreover one of the heroes comes three times near death because there were some spells in the play he was rehearsing. The reader waiting for a logical explanation will wait in vainly. The author of the play changes the spells and that's it. Therefore we are left with a hugely sympathetic cast of by now familiar characters, very witty dialogue and a story that concentrates almost completely on the adventures of actors in a visit outside London where they are not very welcome. As a historian I like it very much but the hardcore mystery fan will feel somewhat cheated.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on July 25, 2001
Format: Hardcover
It has been one of the coldest winters that Elizabethan England has ever known so it's not too surprising that the poor freeze to death on the streets of London. The theatre company of Westfield's Men has been out of work because most of their acting takes place outdoors since they're a traveling troupe. When Sir. Michael Greenleaf of Essex invites them for a ten-day run of six plays, the offer is almost immediately accepted.
Nicholas Bracewell, the book holder who sees to the arrangement of the scenery, thinks the invitation is just what the company needs. Sir Michael insists that one of the plays should be original and that the company takes on Davy Stratton as an apprentice. However, Davy seems to be a catalyst for trouble and always runs away, while terrible things happen to the actors during the new play. Some say it is witchcraft but Nicholas proceeds thinking there is a more mundane reason. He also intends to find out why Davy is causing so much mischief and why he keeps running away when its obvious he likes the theatre group.
THE DEVIL'S APPRENTICE is a fascinating work that spotlights an acting troupe in Elizabethan England. The new religion that the Puritans practice regards theatre people as devils incarnate and should be eradicated from the face of the earth. Edward Marston uses the theatre group as a bridge between the common folk and the gentry so the cast of characters is refreshingly diverse. This mystery is entertaining and a history lesson rolled up into one neat package.

Harriet Klausner
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