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4.7 out of 5 stars58
4.7 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 27 April 2016
I came across this as an audio book without realising two important things. Firstly, it's the third book of a trilogy. But I had no idea, so it obviously works very well as a standalone. Secondly, James Forrester is the pen name of an author whose non fiction I've enjoyed and who's acclaimed.

This story is one I found totally immersive. I was swept into the intrigues and machinations of divided loyalties and long standing conflicts between the Monarchy and 'supporters'. The religious divisions and claims to the throne are explored here in a way that takes the reader into the society depicted. Whether it's the nobility or the serving staff and tavern occupants involved in the dialogue and events, there's a real feel for the people and the times. It's like eavesdropping on events that took place hundreds of years ago and as such, I found it both powerful and compelling.

Central to the story is a document that potentially affects the monarchy, succession and religious belief. Who gas it, who wants it, why and what happens to it provide the basis for an entertaining and plausible romp through a few weeks in history. However you look at this, it's a great tale, well told with a gripping plot and characters bursting with life. I now have to catch up on the first two in the series and that will be a pleasure.
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This is the third, and final, book in the trilogy which began with "Sacred Treason" and moved on to "Roots of Betrayal". As before, the story revolves around a document in the possession of Clarenceux, King of Arms, which proves that Anne Boleyn secretly married Lord Percy - and that, consequently, Elizabeth should not be on the throne. Clarenceux is a loyal Catholic, who sees that there is more stability with a Protestant monarch than in unleashing war. However, Lady Percy is filled with fury that Clarenceux has not moved to use the document; especially as Mary, Queen of Scots and her husband, Lord Henry Stewart, offer a possible Catholic monarch - despite the fact that they are almost at war themselves. Now, Lady Percy, who still wants vengeance on Anne Boleyn for her loveless marriage, unleashes an army of desperate women against Clarenceux and his family.

Besieged in his house, Clarenceux and his family have these female assassins to contend with - as well as a man, called Greystoke, supposedly working for Walsingham, watching him at all times. Clarenceux does not know who to trust and feels unable to protect his wife, Awdrey, and his young daughters. He does know that he needs to bring matters to an end in a way which will end the violence. Overall, this is a good series, which I have enjoyed. At times I have found Clarenceux a rather irritating hero, but it is a realistic series and he never acts in a way which is less than believeable.
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on 9 February 2015
After finishing Cornwell and CJ Sansom where next? I read first Rory Clements (brilliant) and Christopher Gortner (vv good) then picked up this trilogy. There were parts which were so shockingly off piste for a traditional novel of this type I put the thing down and couldn't read. It is really that good. Takes you straight into real Tudor life rather than adding a detective novel onto a thin historical background. Belief and faith are central to this, but not in a detracting way, he just reflects a real world of how people believed and lived accordingly. The storyline is so enthralling and ineluctable you can't put it down (for long). Please do some kind of follow up! Superb.
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If you love historical fiction set in Tudor England that weaves the wonders of a spy thriller in a time where a wrong step either way could see your own side kill you just as much as your foe. Add a dark twist with the key characters wife and one of his daughters missing which leaves the reader in no doubt that it's a game where one throw of the die is all you have. Live or die, conquer or fail, its all you have along with your wits.

What James also brings to the mix is a story that grips you from start to finish, brings the stench of the time to the readers nostrils and will have you watching your step with each new development. Finally throw into the mix solid pace, wonderful prose by an author who knows what the reader wants and all in its been a wonderful third outing.
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on 27 May 2013
Whilst I found this an OK read with lots of twists and turns I did not think it compared with the John Shakespeare novels by Rory Clements for the feel of Elizabethan England or for its story. I was a bit surprised that I enjoyed Rory Clements feel of England more given James Forester's book on Elizabethan England written under the name of Ian Mortimer which is really engaging.
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on 16 January 2016
I have now read the three books at last.To be honest it was a bit of a slog,but I am one of those who refuses to give up on a book,and ,as I bought all three books in this Clareneux trilogy I was determined to plough through them.My opinion is that one book could have covered the whole performance.I got sick and tired of hearing about how important the cursed document was and the never ending life threatening occasions that the hero Clareneux went through.Most of all the way he managed to find his way through all the threats to his life and the serious injuries he sustained , and also recovered from in no time,were nothing short of miraculous.Very far fetched and unbelievable escapades throughout the 3 books.Sorry,but if anybody mentions a DOCUMENT to me in the near future I will scream.I love historical fiction but I think I will give it a miss for a while now so I can refresh my brain and cleanse it from the spectre of that accursed bloody DOCUMENT.! !
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on 30 September 2014
The worst thing about a triology.....once you've read book three there is no more!

Really enjoyed this whole series....look under Ian J. F. Mortimer for other books by same author.

This book was the culmination of a great series with many twists and turns, read also Sacred Treason & Roots of Betrayal
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on 20 February 2015
As this was the first time I had read this authors work I unknowingly, ordered and read this last book of the trilogy first, it is gripping I was so sad to finish it! I quickly orderd more and have just finished the first and second of the trilogy and am about to start The Final Sacrament yet again, the trouble is I'm turning into a night owl because you just can't stop turning the pages to see what happens next.
For the people who enjoy reading well researched historical novels they are brilliant books, James Forrester is up there with C. J. Sansom and S.J. Parris, you can read all these authors books again and again, intriguing and addictive.
A must read, but take it from me try not to read the last book in any of the author's series first as you will only have to read it in the correct order again. H.M
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on 27 May 2013
If you like this sort of thing - historical thrillers involving secrets that could topple the Tudor throne, with lashings of period detail - then you're certainly spoilt for choice these days. After reading Sacred Treason, the first in this trilogy, I said that I'd put James Forrester towards the bottom of the pile. After reading this, he's moved up it a little, but he's still nowhere near the top - a spot which, for me, will always be occupied by CJ Sansom.
The Shardlake stories are slightly different in that they're more murder mysteries than spy thrillers, and for all I know, Forrester could have been planning his series when Matthew Shardlake was still a gleam in CJ Sansom's eye. But comparisons are inevitable, I'm afraid, and Sansom wins hands down when it comes to both character and plot - for me, he's got the knack of creating a completely authentic-seeming sixteenth century, but he fills it with situations and characters which are understandable and relevant for the twenty-first, and Forrester lacks this gift. But Clarenceux is a bit better to understand in this one, and there are good depictions of Cecil and Walsingham. But I still found the plot device (what will he do with the Boleyn/Percy marriage contract) to be paper-thin, the twists and turns to be unconvincing, and some of the characters (like the weird boy Fyndern) rather odd.
In the end it all comes down to taste, for which there's no accounting - most reviewers have given this five stars - and I just didn't like this book much. But it's well written and obviously expertly researched, so three stars.
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on 16 January 2014
As far as historical thrillers go, this is one of the most enjoyable that I have read.

The author has produced a plot full of ifs and buts and tells it at a cracking pace. He takes the reader along, allowing them to feel the desperation that is engulfing the key character of the tale. There are plenty of twists and turns with many unsavoury individuals encountered on every page.

I hope the author picks up the pen again soon to write further novels. If this high standard continues, they too will be well received.

A delight to read.Well done!
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