The Seeker by SG MacLean

They seek him here…

🙂 🙂

the seekerOliver Cromwell has set himself up as de facto monarch of England, living in Charles Stuart’s palace surrounded by luxury. Surrounded also by plots and plotters, he has a spy network to look after his safety and that of the Commonwealth. Amongst them is Seeker, aka The Seeker. When a man apparently loyal to Cromwell is killed, it falls to Seeker aka The Seeker to find out whodunit and why.

I’m going to be perfectly honest here and say that I didn’t have a clue what was going on for most of this book. Maybe if I knew the history of Cromwell’s England in depth, it might have worked for me, but all the factions left me baffled. As did passing mentions of various religious sects – Ranters, Levellers, Seekers (of whom, amazingly, Seeker aka The Seeker appeared to have once been one). The book is well written and MacLean’s research is clearly extremely thorough, but I never got to grips with it and never felt any connection to the myriad of characters who flittered mysteriously across the pages, some of them going by more than one name. One minute we’re in London investigating a murder, next we’re in Oxford foiling some Royalist plot or other, but not the Royalist plot presumably that we’re still trying to foil in London, assuming that is a Royalist plot and not something to do with the slave trade, or maybe opium!

Oliver Cromwell by Samuel Cooper I fear the only things I know about Cromwell are that he was no fun and had warts...
Oliver Cromwell by Samuel Cooper
I fear the only things I know about Cromwell are that he was no fun and had warts…

I stuck it out to 80% and then threw in the towel, realising that I couldn’t care less who did what to whom or why, and positively couldn’t spend any more of my ever-shrinking remaining life-span reading the rest. Part of my problem was that Seeker aka The Seeker (who, if you remember, used to be a Seeker) actually seemed to be the equivalent of the head of the Gestapo, quite happy to take anyone who threatened Cromwell to the Tower for a quick bit of torturing and then a disembowelment or perhaps a dismemberment. I found it hard to see him as a hero – not sure why! The fact that his love interest was the sister of a man, Elias aka The Sparrow, who was possibly a Leveller and maybe a Royalist, or perhaps a disaffected Roundhead who objected to Cromwell behaving like a King (it might have helped if I knew what Levellers were. I’m pretty sure they weren’t Seekers, though.)… *takes a deep breath* Where was I? Oh yes, so Elias is not a fan of Cromwell but while he languishes in the Tower, where Seeker aka The Seeker put him, awaiting almost certain horrible death, his sister manages to fall in love with S aka T.S. Well, you would, wouldn’t you?

SG (aka Shona) MacLean
SG (aka Shona) MacLean

Meantime, there are Dutchmen and invisible Welshmen, and Scotsmen, including one called Zander Seaton, though whether or how he was connected to Alexander Seaton, the hero of MacLean’s other series (the one I understood and liked), I have frankly no idea. Or was he just there as a kind of self-referential in-joke? I don’t know. I simply don’t know!

So I gave up and flicked ahead, and discovered that even when I knew whodunit, I still didn’t care.

Having said all that, it paints a good picture of plots, secrecy and the murky goings-on in Cromwell’s London. And I’m quite sure it would work much better for someone familiar with that period of history, or perhaps someone with more ability/willingness than I to follow nineteen different strands simultaneously while admiring Seeker aka The Seeker. But sadly, not for me.

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Quercus.

Amazon UK Link
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Book 14
Book 14

24 thoughts on “The Seeker by SG MacLean

  1. Haha! I can see where the bewilderment comes in, and who on earth thought Seeker aka The Seeker would work as a cover name?
    I’ve just been reading a biography of Ann Lee (foundress of the Shakers) and it is stuffed full of Protestant/ millenarian/visionary splinter groups from not much later than Cromwell’s time – you can’t tell the players from the spectators without a programme!

    • I suspect a lot of the problem was me rather than the book! Because it never grabbed me I was reading it in short doses – maybe it’d have worked better in chunks! Haha! All these sects do my head in – even though I’ve read about some of them in proper history books I still never know what they believed in or whose side they were on. I think I have to skip those centuries between the Tudors and about Gladstone… 😉

      • Don’t blame yourself for not ” reading in bigger chunks” because just may not be practical for you, or even for most people. I read in line at Starbucks because that’s where I can fit it in, and books that need more sustained attention don’t make it with me.

        • Usually I do read in bigger chunks – an hour or so at a time – but a lot of that depends on the book too. If it doesn’t grab my attention, like this one, I find myself reading in shorter and shorter stretches and that adds to the problem. I should really learn to abandon books at an earlier stage…

  2. Ah, shame this didn’t do it for you, FictionFan. I really do admire the way MacLean does her research – always feel I learn something. But I do know what you mean about too many characters in too many situations, so that you can’t keep up with it all. It is hard to feel drawn into a book when you don’t feel vested in what’s going on. Hmm…..I have liked her Alexander Seaton series. I may try this, but perhaps I’ll wait.

    • To be fair, it’s getting lots of good reviews, so I do think a lot of the problem with this one was me rather than the book. But because I never got gripped by it, it seemed to be taking forever to read and I kept losing track of what was going on. I think I’ll stick with Alexander Seaton…

  3. I’ve been curious about this book, so I’m sorry to hear you didn’t like it. I might still give it a try – I’ve read quite a few books set in this period and have come across some of the sects and factions you mentioned, so maybe that will help. I’ve still got an unread copy of The Redemption of Alexander Seaton on my Kindle, though, so I should probably read that one first!

    • If you know something about the period, then I’d think you’d get much more out of it than I did, so I’d say go for it! It is well written and clearly very well researched – and it’s getting lots of favourable reviews from people saying it feels really authentic for the period. I thought it felt authentic too – I just didn’t get gripped by the plot and found all the politics confusing because it’s a period I know little about. But I’d hate to put anyone off it…

    • Hello, ma-in-law! Hope the nuptials went off well! Yes, I expected to enjoy this, and I do think it was me as much as the book on this occasion – I just seemed to be permanently struggling to understand what was going on. I never did know anything about that period admittedly…

  4. This sounds pretty dreadful, FF. I’m not fond of convoluted stories with bazillions of story threads and a legion of characters to follow. But I’m in awe you tromped through 80 percent before tossing it aside — I might have quit before the first chapter ended, ha!

    • Haha! I might have given up earlier except that I seem to be abandoning every second book at the moment – I fear my summer choices have been, well, let’s say mixed! But with this one, I do think the problem was more to do with me than the book – I gues anyone interested in that period might enjoy it more… maybe!

  5. Sorry you didn’t like this one but it does sound intriguing – I loved your review! As I used to know a bit about 17th century England (A level history many many moons ago) and as I’ve liked S C MacLean’s Alexander Seaton books I’d like to read this one, or at least check it out from the library – thanks for the ‘recommendation’ 🙂

    • I’m glad I haven’t put you off! I’m sure the problem with this one was more to do with me than the book – not only my lack of knowledge of the period, but the fact that it was competing with Usain Bolt etc for my attention. So I do hope you enjoy it – it’s getting plenty of 5 star reviews from other readers. I’ll go back to catching up with the Alexander Seaton books… 🙂

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