Ideas for Reports and Papers
1. How might Justin support himself if he were not working for the Queen? Give several possibilities, and discuss the drawbacks of each.
2. King Richard's absence from his realm forms the background of many stories, including the adventures of Robin Hood, and Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe (1820). Read another book with this setting. Compare and contrast its picture of English society, the monarchy, and law enforcement with that in The Queen's Man.
3. Draw a map of Gracechurch Street, showing the smithy, Nell's inn, Gunter's cottage where Justin stays, and other features. How would you describe the neighborhood to a traveler?
4. Some of this era's methods of questioning and punishing criminals were very harsh. Others seem irrational to us. Yet suspects also had some rights and choices which no longer exist. (Hint: two of these are shown in the book's sequel Cruel as the Grave.) Write a report about the punishments and defenses that were used.
5. Queen Eleanor says, of Claudine's spying for John, that it does not do much harm, and that she only does it for the adventure. Do you agree? Is Claudine attracted to John as well as to Justin? Try showing your answers through one of the characters' eyes: a scene that is not in the novel; a letter from Queen Eleanor; an entry in Claudine's diary.
6. Can you imagine an adventure similar to Justin's happening to a young person in today's world? If not, why not? If so, explain how this could happen and what matters of state the mystery might involve.
7. There were many orphans and other children without families in the Middle Ages. Those who survived were fostered by village women, or raised in monasteries and convents. How do these practices compare with our systems of adoption and paid foster parents?
8. Before the novel's opening, Justin had served as a squire in Lord Fitz Alan's household. The normal "promotion" from such a position was to become a knight. Do you think Justin will ever get that chance? Why or why not?
9. Even in the medieval era, cities like London had crime, traffic jams, and pollution. Do you think city life has become better or worse? Or, on balance, does it have about the same number of aggravations and rewards? Write an essay, using examples from the novel to support your position.
10. Nell is a single parent who makes her living as an innkeeper. Justin at first thinks this is hazardous work for a petite, friendly young woman. What are some ways that Nell protects herself, her daughter, and her business?