A Stain In The Blood

A Stain In The Blood by Joe Moshenska — Reviewed by Guy Portman

A Stain In The Blood is the story of unheralded seventeenth-century English hero and adventurer Kenelm Digby. Hailing from a prominent Catholic family, Digby had a ‘stain in the blood’ due to his executed, gunpowder plotter father. Even in his youth precocious Digby junior was determined to free himself from this stain, and emulate his hero, Sir Francis Drake.

Kenelm grows up to be a charismatic and daring international man of his day with an insatiable lust for knowledge. The text concentrates primarily on his travels in the eastern Mediterranean, where his various escapades include operating as a privateer, defeating a Turkish fleet at Scanderoon and excavating antiquities at Delos.

The book provides an interesting overview of the history of the time, particularly with regards to the various cultures then flourishing in the Mediterranean. However, the lengthy historical discourse and description is often dry, and on occasion dull. There is considerable padding in the form of cross-referencing to ancient Greek tales. This reader found their inclusion to be irrelevant and pretentious. Those anticipating a full account of Kenelm Digby’s life will be disappointed by the fact that the story ends in 1633, more than 30 years before his demise.

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