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100 of 107 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent on plot, research and characters
This book is written under a pseudonym of a well-known historian, and this clearly shows in the detail behind the plot and the period setting of this book. However, it is the characters which make this book so good, and the way that the author gives us a slightly different take on history, without a hysteria factor.

The story centres on a book given to the...
Published on 26 July 2010 by Joanne K. Pilsworth

versus
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good start
It`s rare that I feel moved to write a review.But this book was so frustrating and had potential,and the way the main character developed let it down.This had a promising start,a strange middle and a bizarre end.If a reader is expecting CJ Sansom or Rory Clements ,forget it,the main character is sanctimonious,naiive and hypocritical.Pretty much unlikeable ,in fact.The...
Published 21 months ago by mike rob n5


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100 of 107 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent on plot, research and characters, 26 July 2010
By 
Joanne K. Pilsworth (Cambridge, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sacred Treason (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book is written under a pseudonym of a well-known historian, and this clearly shows in the detail behind the plot and the period setting of this book. However, it is the characters which make this book so good, and the way that the author gives us a slightly different take on history, without a hysteria factor.

The story centres on a book given to the Clarenceux Herald by Henry Machyn. This book is real, and is the subject of the author's non-fiction work. A chronicle is just a diary, so what could be so bad about giving someone your diary when you suspect that you are about to arrested on suspicion of treason. This is Elizabethan England, where the government of the Queen, in the form of Sir William Cecil made the 'Reds Under The Beds' American paranoia of the Forties and Fifties look like child's play.

Walsingham, a well documented historical figure, has been charged by Cecil with investigating any suspected plots which could endanger Elizabeth. What could be more dangerous than the suspicion that Elizabeth had no right to the throne on the basis of being illegitimate, not just in the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church, but also under the law of the Church of England? And, if such a suspicion turned out to be true, then it could mean the return of a Catholic monarch in the form of Mary, Queen of Scots, and the violence associated with a Catholic monarch that people remembered from the reign of Bloody Mary.

Walsingham's methods, as administered by a variety of not very savoury characters, are horrific, and Clarenceux finds himself the unwilling (initially) participant in an investigation. His home is wrecked, his wife and daughters forced to flee London, and he is on the run, all in a matter of days following the visit, in the middle of the night by Henry Machyn. Things become personal when he acts in self-defence and kills a man, who happens to be the brother of Walsingham's 'bully boys', after one of his servant boys is hanged without justification during a search of his home.

Having read books about Elizabethan England, Cecil and Walsingham, I enjoyed particularly an insight into these men, and how driven they were to keep England safe. That is the twist at the end, which I found very surprising and which really demonstrated the quality of this book. I could really empathise with the character of Clarenceux, as well as the female protagonist, Henry Machyn's wife Rebecca. The descriptions of Elizabethan England really gave flavour, not least because the book was about the 'man in the street' (relatively speaking), which is not often well illustrated in non-fiction books about the period.

Overall, the book takes historical documentation and weaves a believable story around them. When you reach the end of the book and realise how short a time period it covers (approximately a month), it makes it even more gripping: a chronicle about a real chronicle. This is history brought alive, and well worth reading.
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More Than I Expected, 5 Aug 2010
By 
Michael Scott "www.nowillpowerrequired.co.uk" (Norfolk, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sacred Treason (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
When I started this book I thought it was going to be in the Da Vinci Code genre but it turned out to be so much more. A mystery, set in the early part of Elizabeth I's reign, this story is loaded with historical facts with the fictional aspect woven in. We follow an honorable man's search for the truth in a time of conflict, fear and murder, whilst protecting a secret which could change the course of history. Written with passion and historical accuracy this is definitely in the "couldn't put it down" category.

The only thing that put me off was the cover as it looked very Secret/Da Vinci code but ignore that and get into the book and it is a fantastic read.

Strongly recommended.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical faction makes a great read, 2 Aug 2010
By 
Michael Watson "skirrow22" (Halifax, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sacred Treason (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I really enjoyed this book. At first, when I saw that an historian had written a fictional novel I was thinking I would be deluged with facts and historical events taking the edge off the main thrust of the story. Not a bit. I'm very pleased this author knows how to keep his readers turning the pages as a dark plot to overthrow Queen Elizabeth is set out for us to enjoy. Of course it is fiction so we have to imagine the `what ifs?' to keep the pace and the intrigue. We know, too, there was plenty of genuine intrigue at this time and Forrester brings alive the Elizabethan life as probably only an accredited historian could do.

I felt drawn into the lives of the people portrayed. I liked the atmosphere created which, when coupled with the action parts, only surprised me in how quickly I'd read the book. I'm delighted Clerenceux is returning and more delighted that I might expect further insight into this timespan, expressed in almost true-to-life scene-setting. A great read and not just for `by the pool' this time.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Rollercoaster of a Read!, 20 Aug 2010
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This review is from: Sacred Treason (Hardcover)
I was hooked from the first page - James Forrester (Ian Mortimer) has written a first-class novel. It is set in the early reign of Queen Elizabeth and centres around a chronicle which contains a document which if becomes known would bring about the downfall of 'two queens'. Initially you could be forgiven for thinking it is a not unusual plot but as the book progresses this is not the case. Ian Mortimer, being a Historian by profession has interlaced fact with fiction extremely well and the book is littered with facts that we know to be documented and there are a few surprises too. It is a book that contains all good elements for a terrific read, mysterious documents, secret societies, hidden passages, Royal intrigue, - the good 'Knight' Clarenceux and the 'bad' courtier - Walsingham and the 'Country's Saviour - Cecil.

All in all an excellent Elizabethan mystery that leaves you wondering - could this be true? I was hooked after the first page and enjoyed all 400+ pages - be prepared to take an unforgettable roller coaster of a read and enjoy!!!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good start, 24 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Sacred Treason (Clarenceux Trilogy Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
It`s rare that I feel moved to write a review.But this book was so frustrating and had potential,and the way the main character developed let it down.This had a promising start,a strange middle and a bizarre end.If a reader is expecting CJ Sansom or Rory Clements ,forget it,the main character is sanctimonious,naiive and hypocritical.Pretty much unlikeable ,in fact.The other characters are either really bad or curdlingley good.Having said all that it`s not the worst book I`ve read for under a fiver,it`s just that the competition in Tudor faction is so strong that this one really needs to up its game to even get near the neighbourhood of Clements and Sansom,who are both vastly superior.Won`t bother with the sequel.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Just can't get into this one!, 9 Nov 2012
By 
Gemma "Chocolatebox" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sacred Treason (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm a fan of historical fiction set in Tudor times, and indeed I'm a huge fan of the Shardlake series by Sansom set in this time period. When this book was offered to me through Amazon Vine and sold as a one for fans of Sansom, I jumped at the chance to try it.

This was many months ago and several times now I've started reading this, lost interest, come back to it a month or two later, lost interest again.... You get the picture.

It just doesn't compare to the Shardlake series at all. It's not gripping at all and I find myself not caring about the characters or storyline.

Give it a miss.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Blistering Elizabethan Thriller, 5 Nov 2014
This review is from: Sacred Treason (Paperback)
This is the first of 3 Elizabethan thrillers written by James Forrester. Whilst these books are connected, I have typically read them out of sequence, this being the last one that I picked up.
Despite this failing on my part, this is an excellent fast moving tale with lots to enjoy. There are plenty of cat and mouse scenes for our heroes which are truly full of tension and intrigue. There are some really nasty characters here too, which are cleverly portrayed by the author.
As the story moves along, Forrester never deviates from the excellent plot, describing fully the sights and smells encountered along the way and the ending is well wrapped up for the reader.
Whilst other authors in this genre deem it important to string several stories into one, Forrester sticks to the script to present us with an excellent story that is told with clarity and precision.
My only concern is the writer hasn't had a new historical thriller for a few years -I hope there will be more in the future. If you enjoy SJ Parris, CJ Sansom and Rory Clements, give this book a try. You won't be disappointed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sacred Treason, 31 Aug 2013
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sacred Treason (Clarenceux Trilogy Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
William Harley, Clarenceux King of Arms, is a man of standing and respect. He is also a Catholic, which is why he is nervous of late night visits. When he is visited by Henry Machyn late one evening, he fears it is to be arrested. However, when the clearly afraid Machyn entrusts him with a chronicle, telling him, "the fate of two queens depends upon that book," he finds himself plunged into a possible Catholic conspiracy. Everything he feared - arrest, possible disgrace and the crumbling of his carefully constructed world comes true. Before long, Clarenceux and Rebecca Machyn, wife (soon to be widow) of Henry Machyn are forced to flee for their life; to protect the chronicle and try to discover the secret it contains.

This historical novel contains both real and fictional characters. Sir William Cecil and Francis Walsingham are in charge of protecting Elizabeth I, while the author has given Walsingham a fictional vicious sidekick in Crackenthorpe, who takes great delight in carrying out his orders. The fact that Clarenceux and Rebecca are both committed Catholics does limit where Forrester can take his characters - they spend much of the novel denying the attraction between them. However, this is the first book in a trilogy, the next title being The Roots of Betrayal (Clarenceux Trilogy 2) and I suspect that this possible love affair may resurface.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars does not compare, 28 Oct 2012
This review is from: Sacred Treason (Paperback)
I am afraid to say not a patch on Sansom.Definately readable but does not grip you and I found it difficult to keep going to the end.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bloodthirsty and enjoyable!, 21 Aug 2012
This review is from: Sacred Treason (Paperback)
If you like historical suspense fiction in a similar veign to C J Sansom's Shardlake series then this book is for you. The central character is likeable and his villains deserving of their fates. The plot - which has a very strong basis in fact - is believable and the pace has you turning the pages. The writing style is also eminently readable and not - as might be expected to be the case with an academic's first shot at fiction - turgid or boring.
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