Reign of the Marionettes Paperback – 19 Dec. 2016
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Anyone with an interest in British history will relish this book. InD'tale Magazine.
Cries out for a stage or screen adaptation. Enthusiastically recommended. Historical Novel Society.
Any reader who enjoys historical fiction, a story with lots of intrigue, or just an excellent work of fiction, in general, should absolutely read this book. Readers Favorite
An excellent, enjoyable and edifying read. I highly recommend Reign of the Marionettes. Douglas Debelak author of the Ghostwriter Series.
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I have never before sat and read a book in this genre, however I really found it fascinating.
You cannot help but get drawn in to this book from the very beginning, it was exciting and I was intrigued to find out what the outcome would be by the end.
I loved how much plotting, spying, double dealing s and mixed loyalties there are within the plot.
This book is solid both within the plot line and the authors style of writing, and there is no way to avoid learning about real, true pieces of historical facts. This book is based and formed around a real time period and from real documented accounts of what happened in this religiously fraught time in the United Kingdom's history.
This book goes to show and remind us all that life is not easy and that slight differences of people and their beliefs and ideals can alter and change the course of history and be embedded in our way of life for centuries to come.
An extremely complex but worthwhile subject matter to bring to light
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone to read as you will not be disappointed. This book has definitely got me wanting to read more if the same and has introduced me to a different genre of book to what I am used to.
If you want murder, hysteria on a mass scale, intrigue, plotting and conspiracy then this book will definitely deliver that.
Thank you Sheena Macleod for bringing this book to the world and for helping to keep history alive by bringing it to a new generation of readers.
The cast of characters is many and varied, but the keenest focus is on the ‘good’ in the shape of Elizabeth Herbert, wife to the Earl of Powis; the ‘bad’, the Earl of Shaftesbury, who pursues foul means to what would in time come to be regarded as a just end, and Titus Oates, an Anglican priest even uglier in character than in looks.
Not only is the plot very well researched, but the atmosphere of 17th century London is brought to life. In the coffee house, “the bitter smell of burning beans replaced the sour stench from the street”, and the mob at Tyburn jeers and cheers as innocents are hanged, drawn and quartered. Conversations are peppered with contemporary exclamations, “Pish”, “by God’s hooks”, “odds fish”, “God’s nails”, that not only recall the era, but also the absolute centrality of religion in daily life.
The story rattles on at a fair pace and has many twists and turns as one hopes for the triumph of the good and sits well alongside other examples of the genre. However, the thing that sets it apart for me is its relevance to the contemporary world. It can be seen as a lesson from history as the bad and the ugly create a web of lies to cloud the judgement of the people. The accused are condemned on the word of a man, Titus Oates, who fabricates his entire ‘evidence’ in the same way as modern villains use social media to spread fear and hatred.
In short, highly recommended.
Top international reviews
This was a terrific historical fiction set in England only years after the Great Fire. The story highlights the political situation that occurred around the time of the Popish Plot to (theoretically) kill the King of England, and the ensuing persecution of Catholics.
The author has very clearly done her research as the book includes lots of detail. Thankfully, this detail is not delivered in a lecture format with information-dumps about the life and times! All the detail is weaved into the scenery, dialog, and events that occur. As I read, I very much felt I was getting a genuine vision of the time period in which the story occurs. Well done!
While there were quite a few characters, they are generally well crafted and therefore enjoyable (or absolutely despicable and horrid, like Titus Oates – I spent a good bit of my reading time cringing at his sliminess and hoping a building would fall on him!). I especially enjoyed Elizabeth, one of the main characters through which this story is told. She is an honorable and kind-hearted person who was (or should have been) an example to those around her. That said, even with the societal rules of the time, she finds the strength to not just “soldier on” when her husband is arrested, but to make an effort to correct the wrongs that are occurring. I really enjoyed her character and would want to emulate her if I ever found myself in Restoration England. ;)
The only real difficulty I had with this novel was the sheer number of characters that I needed to try and keep in mind – the cast is huge! On the other hand, I’ve tried to think of how the author could have avoided this and I believe it would have diminished the novel: Without showing the intricacies of the many political and social relationships involved in or affected by the machinations occurring, the story itself would not have been as historically or dramatically rich.
Well done! I easily recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction!
“Reign of the Marionettes” is told from several points of view, allowing readers to become immersed in all sides of the political conflict. Occurring a few years after The Great Fire of London, the story revolves around The Popish Plot. This scheme was an attempt to shift political power, using the Catholic and Protestant religions as a base to incite hatred and spread lies in an attempt to affect the succession to the throne.
Chief among the storytellers is Elizabeth, wife of William Herbert, the Earl of Powis. Titus Oates, the chief fabricator of the Popish Plot, is also featured. Other characters take over the reins when necessary, providing continuity and clarity. This novel is plot-driven, though any lack of character description is more than made up with the factual motivations tied to the characters. History is behind the steering wheel, with the author filling in the dialogue and moving the story at a steady pace.
Although there were moments when the timing of plot events seemed a little ragged, overall the tale possessed all the elements of danger and intrigue such as might be written about in a fictional account. “Reign of the Marionettes” was an entertaining read, and a wonderful way to gain insight into a fascinating slice of history. Four stars.
Told mostly through the eyes of Lady Elizabeth Herbert – a Catholic noblewoman who still remembers the persecutions her family had been subjected to due to their religion – the story concentrates around the plot concocted by the Protestant lords, who dream of removing all Catholics from the Parlament, including the King’s younger brother, James. Even though Elizabeth wants nothing else but to live her life and take care of her family, her husband unwittingly gets entangled in the dangerous plot, which might eventually lead to his execution. And in the times when even the high court refuses to be impartial, and the King himself is fearing another Civil War, is it possible for the truth to be revealed after all? Read this masterfully crafted story and you’ll find out.
I definitely want to applaud the author for her meticulous research and authentic language. After turning the very first page I felt immediately immersed into a world of old England and sometimes I had to hold my breath while watching the events unfold in front of my eyes. Beautifully written and full of intrigue this novel should be on every historical fiction lover’s to-read list. Five stars.
Lady Elizabeth Herbert, a Catholic noblewoman, recalls only too well the persecutions inflicted on her father by religious zealots. While she hopes to keep the past behind her, fate and her unwitting husband, the Earl of Powis, embroil her in a deadly struggle to protect her family from the machinations of powerful men bent on seizing control of the throne.
Compelling storytelling is the mark of a true author. Ms. MacLeod has captured the darkness and the light of human nature, deftly handling a cast of the many personalities whose political motives are clearly, chillingly defined. If I’ve any criticism of the book, it would be the few slow parts, but these do not overshadow an otherwise captivating story.