Friday, March 1, 2013

Sacred Treason by James Forrester

I just finished the first of a series of books that occur in 16th century England featuring Mr. William Harley, a Herald holding the title of Clarenceaux King of Arms. I found the historical detail and language compelling, at times researching heraldic titles simply to increase my understanding of the history I was reading. Mr Claranceaux, as our hero Mr. Harley is called throughout the book, finds himself entangled in a perceived plot to overthrow the Queen of England, Elizabeth I when presented with a chronicle written by an old friend, Henry Machyn. At the time England was still struggling with a national conversion to Protestantism, thus the religion of the sitting monarch has bearing on the plot. Mr Claranceaux, being of the old religion, or Catholic, was identified by the villain to be the mastermind behind the plot as the Queen was Protestant and many sought to return England to Catholicism. The story takes a much deeper turn rooting itself in the story of Anne Boleyn and the potential illegitimacy of Elizabeth's reign alongside deep rooted spite for past personal transgressions. Despite the religious overtones I found the book wonderfully written, characters realistic, and the ending perfect in that it was not a perfectly happy ending but more true to imperfect human resolutions.