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Nathan Fox: Dangerous Times by Lynn Brittney

Nathan Fox: Dangerous Times

by Lynn Brittney

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Reviewed by Carrie Spellman for TeensReadToo.com

Aside from being an orphan, Nathan Fox is pretty content with his life. He still has his sister, he's the youngest actor in a theatre company in England, he's even making friends with the other actors. His favorite is Will. William Shakespeare that is. Will is a fellow actor who really wants to be a playwright. As soon as he has enough good stories, he'll write his first play. For now he's acting and observing, and Nathan is about to be a lot more help then he ever anticipated.

It's 1587 and England is very nearly at war. Their are enemies everywhere, and no heir to the throne as the queen refuses to marry. Sir Francis Walsingham is the Spymaster General for Queen Elizabeth I. These are dangerous times for England, and Sir Walsingham is recruiting. John Pearce, his best spy, is sure he has the perfect candidate for Sir Francis: Nathan Fox.

Much to Nathan's surprise, his acrobatic and acting talents could make him a great spy. Despite his sister's protests, and the obvious danger, Nathan agrees to join Pearce in Sir Francis' company of spies. First he must go train in the various forms of weaponry and defense. But not before agreeing to keep his eyes open and his memory sharp for stories to bring back to Will.

Training his hard. And scary. And only the beginning.

Such a fun story in its own right. Add in the entertainment from recognizing other characters and putting the whole thing together... It's amazing, surprising, remarkable - I can't find the right word to describe it! I've always liked Shakespeare, but sometimes I get the stories mixed up. I will never forget which one this is now. Perfect if you like Shakespeare. Even more perfect if you've never been able to get through the wording in an actual Shakespeare play. I can only hope that there are going to be more of these!

Go read it, you won't be sorry, and neither will your English teacher. ( )
  GeniusJen | Oct 12, 2009 |
14-year-old Nathan Fox is recruited by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth I's man, Sir Francis Walsingham to be a spy. His experience as an actor with Shakespeare makes him the perfect candidate. Action, adventure and danger abound as they cross the ocean to Crete, stopping to defeat the Turks in a naval battle along the way. ( )
  mhg123 | Jun 20, 2009 |
Great adventure book set in Will Shakespeare's time, where a young actor is recruited to spy for England. He travels to France with another spy and encounters the adventures that parallel to the tale of Othello. Will definitely be reading the next one. ( )
  knielsen83 | Mar 5, 2009 |
Nathan Fox is a boy actor in a troop run by Burbage. He catches the eye of Queen Elizabeth I’s spymaster, Walsingham and his chief spy, John Pearce. Nathan is agile, intelligent and fluent in a number of languages.
He is taken to learn combat techniques and cryptography. Nathan does well and in a short space of time, he is sent to Venice with John Pearce. Marie, Nathan’s sister also travels with them. They are to attempt to win the support of the Doge of Venice against the coming Spanish invasion.
John Pearce takes the name of Cassio and Marie, Bianca. In Venice, Nick becomes aware of street gangs, meets the leader of one (Mecutio) and has to disarm him in a fight. The group moves on to the island Cyprus, travelling with the great Venetian general Othello and his new wife Desdemona.
They are caught up in intrigue. There is a great battle scene and some other more personal conflicts.
When the trio make it back to England, Nathan tells stories of his adventures to his friend Will Shakespeare ( )
  Rhondda | Aug 30, 2008 |
Fourteen year old Nathan Fox is a young actor and superb acrobat, who lives with his sister in Elizabethan London. Recruited by Her Majesty's Spymaster General, Sir Francis Walsingham, Nathan leaves the theatre to start an exciting new life as an undercover agent. He is first sent to a school of defence where experts teach him the arts of spying needed to stay alive in the field. These arts include writing in secret codes, how to survive street fighting, accurate dagger throwing and sword fighting. Nathan is then assigned to his first mission, a trip to Venice to thwart Phillip of Spain's plans to invade England.

NATHAN FOX: DANGEROUS TIMES is the first in a series, and the author, L Brittney, a teacher of drama and theatre, certainly shows us that she knows her history well. She has previously written fourteen non-fiction books (including three children's history titles) and over forty plays. This is her first fiction book, and in it she accurately brings the Elizabethan period alive for her readers. Through Brittney's words, the reader can see the filthy streets, the palaces of the privileged, and feel the fear of being in a wooden sailing ship in the middle of a battle.

Nathan grows as a character through the story, but always remains believable as a young teenager. He shows great courage for such a young man, is respectful of others and willing to listen, but not such a goody two-shoes that he doesn't take things into his own hands. The main supporting characters are Marie, Nathan's sister, and John Pearce, Nathan's spy mentor. They are both quite complex characters and very realistic. The author's experience in drama also comes out in the story, with several links to Shakespeare's play 'Othello'. Indeed, the historical Shakespeare appears as a character early on in the book, trying to break away from being an actor by writing a play. Shakespeare asks Nathan to remember his experiences in Venice to pass on to him for inspiration. Nathan just has to live long enough to carry out this commission. One chapter dealing with sword fighting was especially interesting to read as I learned, along with Nathan, that there are four places on the human body where a man can be struck with a sword and disabled, two places where a struck man will die slowly and two points where a man will die quickly. We also learnt why you should avoid the quick points in battle. Want to know why? Well, read the book.

NATHAN FOX: DANGEROUS TIMES is a really good adventure story, with non-stop action, thrilling battles, baddies to outwit and lots of fun. It also made the shortlist for the 2007 Waterstone's Children's Book Prize in the 9-12 category. ( )
  sally906 | May 5, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 031236962X, Hardcover)

Sir Francis Walsingham, England’s spymaster general, has eyes and ears all over the world. His secret service protects Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth—and ensures the might of all of England. Now he has a new recruit. Fourteen-year-old Nathan Fox is an actor in the same company as young Will Shakespeare. His life in the theatre has taught him a thing or two about disguises and deception. But nothing can prepare Nathan for the shadowy world he’s about to enter now.

Nathan is trained in swordplay and streetfighting, codebreaking and escapes. Then he’s paired with fearless spy John Pearce for his first mission: a journey to Venice to forge an alliance against the powerful King of Spain.

Posing as master and servant, Nathan and Pearce move smoothly through Venetian society . . . until they cross paths with the great General Othello. Soon they become entangled in his tragic love affair with a young noblewoman, Desdemona.

Nathan’s new life holds more action and more drama than he ever saw on a stage. But will he ever survive to tell Will Shakespeare this tale?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:14 -0400)

Nathan is an actor in the same company as Will Shakespeare. He leaves the theatre when he is recruited as an undercover agent by Her Majesty's Spymaster General, and is trained in the arts that will keep him alive. His first mission takes him to Venice, to thwart Phillip of Spain's plans to invade England. Suggested level: intermediate, junior secondary.… (more)

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