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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 23 March 2017
I enjoyed the first two books, but was tired of Clarencaux's sudden changes of mood, attitude and character. I never quite knew if he was a man of peace or a homicidal maniac. I also found the author's afterwards a bit pompous. Well written though - so glad not to be a 16th century Catholic (or Protestant)!
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on 19 July 2017
Really enjoyed this series. Looking forward to reading more from James Forester
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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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on 15 June 2013
Wow, what a cracking cliff-hanger at the end of this trilogy! I loved the first book, and having waited impatiently for the second book (The Roots of Betrayal) I was somewhat disappointed with the meandering plot of that book, with too many pirates and side-plots, and not enough William. But this one was right back on track and sees William finally pushed into a desperate corner by his possession of a document so deadly that it could bring down the Tudor monarchy and plunge England into a bloody religious civil war. Oh boy, what a rollercoaster, especially at the end. I took my mp3 player to bed into the wee small hours because I couldn't wait until the next day to find out how it all ended. I am not going to give spoilers, but enough to say I needed a tissue to blow my nose and wipe away the tears as the book closed on a shattering cliff-hanger. I know it is popular to compare this trilogy to the Rory Clements and CJ Sansom books, but for me it is like comparing oranges and apples. This trilogy covers one specific and particular facet of the legitimacy of Elizabeth 1's reign brought into the personal life, soul and conscience of one man. William Harley struggles to balance his Catholic faith with his loyalty to his country (no matter who is on the throne) and his chivalric sense of honour. Add to that the love for his family and loyalty to those closest to him, his sense of never knowing who to trust aside from a bare few, in this third volume, that internal struggle becomes painful and palpable. Bravo James Forrester and bravo also to Mike Grady who narrated it and brought William to life so beautifully and in the final analysis, so poignantly.
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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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