Sacred Treason [NOOK Book]

Overview

"Vivid and dramatic."—The Guardian

"Arresting."—Daily Telegraph

Your God. Your Country. Your Kin.
Who Do You Betray?

1563: Anyone could be a suspect; any Catholic could be accused of plotting against the throne. Clarenceux keeps his head down and his religion quiet. But when a friend desperately pleads with Clarenceux to hide a manuscript ...

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Sacred Treason

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Overview

"Vivid and dramatic."—The Guardian

"Arresting."—Daily Telegraph

Your God. Your Country. Your Kin.
Who Do You Betray?

1563: Anyone could be a suspect; any Catholic could be accused of plotting against the throne. Clarenceux keeps his head down and his religion quiet. But when a friend desperately pleads with Clarenceux to hide a manuscript for him, he is drawn into a web of treachery and conspiracy he may never untangle. Is there no refuge if your faith is your enemy?

Bestselling author Dr. Ian Mortimer, writing as James Forrester, has crafted a chilling, brilliant story that re-imagines how the explosive mix of faith and fear can tear a country apart. Sacred Treason tells a thrilling story of murder, betrayal, and loyalty—and the power of the written word.

"An Elizabethan romp featuring a conspiracy, a secret manuscript, and whispers about Anne Boleyn."—Sunday Times

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Forrester (the pen name of historian Ian Mortimer, author of The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England) brings a new trilogy to the Elizabethan shelves with this enjoyable first book. In 1563, Catholics are hunted by Queen Elizabeth’s men. William Harley, Clarenceux King of Armes is a Catholic herald in her majesty’s court and worries that his secret will be discovered. But one night an old friend, Henry Machyn, recklessly breaks curfew to ask Clarenceux to safeguard his volume of “seditious and heretical writings,” telling his friend that the “fate of two queens depends on” the project, 13 years in the making. If anything should happen, Machyn tells Clarenceux, he is to give the chronicle to the Knights of the Round Table. Clarenceux, ignorant of the Knights’ existence, now has in his possession a book that will put him in great peril unless he unravels the mystery at its heart. Forrester (Roots of Betrayal) vividly renders emotional scenes, and the book’s villains are sufficiently despicable to keep readers rooting for Clarenceux in this strong beginning to the trilogy. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
"For twists and turns, codes and clues, Mr. Forrester beats Dan Brown, and when it comes to social detail, he is up there with Patricia Finney" - The Wall Street Journal

"A brilliant mystery adventure ... seamlessly incorporating known facts and people of the time with fictional aspects to progress the story ... A must read for historical fiction lovers." - Passages to the Past

"Reading Sacred Treason was like being completely immersed in the world of 16th Century England (without the smells). It was bracing and marvelous and compelling from beginning to end.
" - Book Lovers Inc.

Library Journal
Forrester (pen name of historian Ian Mortimer, The Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England) centers this cloak-and-dagger tale on William Harley, a gentleman who has achieved the high rank of Clarenceux King of Arms and whose acquaintances include Sir William Cecil. It is a more lowly acquaintance, though, who comes knocking on Clarenceux’s door on a stormy night in December 1563. Henry Machyn has come to Clarenceux because in addition to being an officer of the Queen, the herald is also a secret Catholic. Machyn presses on Clarenceux a chronicle that will prove to be the key to a conspiracy involving a group who call themselves the Knights of the Round Table. He then departs into the storm, never to be seen again for he has been watched by agents of Francis Walsingham. Clarenceux must rely on his wits, his 20-year-old soldiering skills, and the widow Machyn to survive this plot. Verdict Fans of Elizabethan fiction are legion, and they won’t be disappointed by the fierce action and plot twists of this historical thriller, the first volume in a new trilogy.—Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Lib., Wisconsin Rapids

(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402272677
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/1/2012
  • Series: Clarenceux Trilogy Series , #1
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 66,069
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

James Forrester is the pen name of the historian Dr. Ian Mortimer. Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and winner of its Alexander Prize for his work on social history, he is the author of four highly acclaimed medieval biographies and the Sunday Times bestsellers The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England and The Time Traveler's Guide to Elizabethan England. He lives with his wife and three children in the Southwest of England. www.jamesforrester.co.uk
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Read an Excerpt

Prologue

Tuesday, December 7, 1563

It was a cold day for a killing. The Scotsman, Robert Urquhart, rubbed his hands and breathed on them as he waited in Threadneedle Street, in London. Watching the door to Merchant Taylors' Hall, he clutched each finger in turn, trying to keep them supple, his grip strong. He cursed the gray December skies. Only when two men appeared at the top of the steps, walking very slowly and deep in conversation, did he forget the chill in his bones. His victim, William Draper, was the one on the left-the jeweled gold collar gave him away.

He studied Draper. Narrow face, gray hair and beard, about sixty. Not tall but well dressed, in an expensive green velvet doublet with lace ruff and cuffs. Eyes like a fox. He looked selfish, judgemental-even a little bitter. You could see how he had made his money: with an ambition as cold and biting as this weather, and with as little remorse.

Urquhart watched Draper pull his cloak close and wait, standing on the bottom step, above the frozen mud. The man continued talking to his less well dressed companion. The carts and pedestrian traffic of the street passed in front of them, the snorting of the horses and the drivers' breath billowing in the cold morning air.

It could not be done here, Urquhart could see that. Not without risking his own arrest. That would be as bad as failure. Worse-for he knew her ladyship's identity. They would torture that information out of him. Arrest would simply require her ladyship to send another man, to kill him as well as Draper.

He walked to the end of the street and looked back casually. A servant led a chestnut palfrey around the corner from the yard and held it steady, offering the reins to Draper who mounted from the bottom step with surprising agility. Draper offered some final words to his companion from the saddle, then gestured good-bye with a wave of his hand and moved off.

Westward. He was going home.

Urquhart started forward, walking briskly. He felt for the knife in his belt, the dagger in his shirt sleeve, and the rounded butt of the long-barreled German wheel lock pistol inside the left breast of his doublet. He hoped he would not have to use it. The noise would bring all London running.

He followed his victim to his house in Basinghall Street. Four stories high and three bays wide, with armorial glass in the windows. He waited outside for some minutes then drew a deep breath and slowly exhaled, taking a moment to reflect on his mission.

He climbed the few steps to the door and knocked hard. A bald man in knee-length breeches answered.

"God speed you. An urgent message for the master."

The bald man noted the Scottish accent. "Another time, sir, you would be right heartily welcome. Alas, today my master has given instructions that he is not to be disturbed."

"He will see me. Tell him I come with a message from her ladyship. It is she who bids me seek his help."

"Regretfully, sir, I cannot disobey an order-"

"You are very dutiful, and that is to be commended, but I urge you, look to your Catholic conscience, and quickly. Her ladyship's business is a matter of life and death. Tell Mr. Draper I have traveled far to see him in his capacity as Sir Dagonet. He will understand."

The bald man paused, weighing up his visitor's appearance and demeanor. He looked at his shoes, dirty with the mud of the street. But the visitor seemed so confident; Mr. Draper might well be angry if he turned away an urgent communication brought by a Scotsman. "Wait here, if you please," he said, stepping backward into the shadows.

After several minutes he reappeared. "Mr. Draper will see you. This way."

Urquhart followed the servant along a dark passageway, through a high hall, and past a pair of large wooden benches piled with bright silk cushions. He noticed a gilt-framed portrait of the master of the house, and another of a stern-looking man in an old-fashioned breastplate and helmet-Draper's father, perhaps. There was a big tapestry of a town under siege at one end of the hall. Above the fireplace were two brightly painted plaster figures of black women in red skirts, their exotic paganism allowing the plasterer to bare their breasts shamelessly. Here was a whitewashed stone staircase. At the top, a picture of the Virgin. Finally they came to a wide wooden door.

"What is your name, sir?" asked the bald man over his shoulder.

"Thomas Fraser," Urquhart replied.

The servant knocked, lifted the latch, and pushed the door open. Urquhart crossed himself. He loosened his sleeve, felt the hilt of the dagger, and entered boldly.

The room was long, oak-paneled, and warm, and had an elaborate plaster ceiling. Two fireplaces in the far wall were alight, the blazing logs held in place by polished silverheaded firedogs.

The servant turned to his right and bowed. "Mr. Draper, this is the Scotch esquire who has come on behalf of her ladyship. His name is Thomas Fraser."

Draper was sitting behind a table at one end of the room, looking down at a piece of paper. Urquhart saw the same narrow face and gray beard he had seen outside the hall. He stepped forward and bowed respectfully. He heard the door shut behind him and the latch fall.

"You come from her ladyship?" the merchant said softly, looking up. There were tears in his eyes.

Suddenly Urquhart felt nervous, like a boy about to steal silver coins from his master's purse. Why the tears? Was Draper expecting him? But there was just one thing to do and the sooner it was done the better.

"Sir," he said, taking another two steps closer, so he was barely six feet from the table. "I come with an instruction from her ladyship." He reached for his dagger.

Suddenly a deep north country voice called out from behind him: "Hold fast! Move no further!"

Urquhart turned. Behind the door as it had opened had been a huge, bearded man dressed in a black doublet and cloak. His hair too was black and curled. In his early thirties, he had obviously seen action on more than one occasion. A livid red mark stretched from above his right eyebrow to his right ear. On his left hip he wore a silver-handled side-sword, and he was holding a pistol.

For one throb of his pulse, Urquhart was motionless. But in that moment he understood what had happened. Her ladyship had been betrayed. He did not know by whom, or how, but it left him in no doubt what he had to do. The instant he saw the scarred man move his pistol hand, he pulled the dagger from his sleeve and hurled it at the man's chest. The next instant he rushed toward him, one hand reaching out to grab the pistol and the other fumbling for the knife at his own belt.

When the gun went off, Urquhart was moving forward. And then, suddenly, he was on his side, the report echoing in his ears.

Only then did he feel the pain. It was as if his scream of agony was a sound formed within the severed nerves of his left thigh. There was a mess of blood and torn flesh. He could see splintered bone. As the sliced nerves and the sight of the shreds of bloody meat combined into a realization of one single, hideous truth, he gasped and raised his head, dizzy with the shock. The rip his dagger had made in the black cloak and shirt revealed a glint of a breastplate. The man was drawing his side-sword.

"You are too late," the north country voice declared. "Our messenger from Scotland came in the night. Mr. Walsingham knows."

Urquhart screamed again as the pain surged. He thumped the floor, unable to master the feeling. But it was not the wound that mattered-it was the failure. That was worse than the physical hurt. It did not matter that he was a dead man. What mattered was that his victim was still alive.

Eyes blurred with tears of shame, he thrust his hand inside his doublet for his own pistol. The scarred man was too close. But he forced his trembling hands to respond and drew back the wheel of the lock. Gasping, he twisted around, aimed at Draper's head, and pulled the trigger.

The noise of the gun was the last thing he heard. An instant later the blade of the side-sword flashed through his throat and lodged in the back of his neck, in the bone. And then he was suffocating and tumbling in a frothing sea of his own blood.

It was not an easy death to behold.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 202 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(57)

4 Star

(64)

3 Star

(48)

2 Star

(20)

1 Star

(13)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 202 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 11, 2012

    A Fantastic Read!!

    Sacred Treason was one of those novels that took me completely by surprise. I was blown away by how much I enjoyed this book and I really have to thank the publicist who contacted me offering me a spot on this books tour.

    This book had everything I wanted. I haven't read many historical mysteries especially not ones set in Tudor England so this one was a real treat for me. I can honestly say that I've never read a book like it and I'm super excited that I had the opportunity to read this.

    I really enjoyed the sense of adventure in this novel as Clarenceux solved the mystery behind the mysterious book that his friend Henry gave him. It was a non-stop ride for me and I found myself staying up late last night just to finish it because I couldn't help but want to see what would happen next.

    The writing was seemless and addictive each chapter left me wanting to find out more and more and I very much enjoyed the characters that James Forrester created in his fictional debut. I have to say that Clarenceux is one of my new favourite characters now because he himself was just as intriguing as the mystery surround the book in his possession.

    The way the book was set up was very much in the way of an adventure novel. I loved the historical details that were paid attention to and the descriptions of the times, the places and the people were wonderfully done. I loved the tension between Clareneux and his wicked counterparts who were up to no good it was thrilling to see how the whole novel played out and I'm glad I had a chance to read it.

    I really think that the author's historical background was a real asset to him in writing this novel. He's an author of non fiction titles under his real name Ian Mortimer which gives him that extra edge to pen this series.

    Like I said before I'm not really familiar with the historical mystery genre Sacred Treason has really sparked an interest in me to explore other books that are part of the genre and there's nothing I like more than to be introduced to a new genre so you can expect to see more reviews of books like this in the future. Since I am a fan of both historical fiction as well as mystery novels this bridge between both genres worked out well for me.

    I highly recommend this book to those who are fans of historical fiction and historical mysteries. If you love books set in Tudor England than I think this book might just be up your alley but if you're anything like me you may find yourself up to all hours of the night reading it. I for one am eagerly anticipating reading the other two books in this series and I'm hoping to do so soon.





    * I received a free copy of this book from the published via NetGalley in exchange for my free and honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own and I was not compensated in any way.

    55 out of 74 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 20, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Fun and exciting look into history.

    I enjoyed this right from the start. I love a good book that gives you a look at what life was like in the past through the thoughts and actions of the characters. The suspense was constant and the characters very believable, no over the top heros, just normal people caught up in goverment intrigue. I would highly recommend this fun ride through ancient England.

    54 out of 59 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 8, 2013

    As a fan of the CJ Sansom Shardlake series, I absolutely recomme

    As a fan of the CJ Sansom Shardlake series, I absolutely recommend this rip-roaring ride through Elizabethan England. Those familiar with Tudor history will recognize key players Cecil and Walsingham, and the sectarian strife that ruled 16th century England. 
    Forrester (Mortimer) does a masterful job showcasing the day-to-day life for every level of society in London of that time - what they ate, what they wore, how they lived.
    I can't wait for his "A Time Traveler's Guide to Elizabethan England" is published, as well, I believe in May. Really great new character and Forrester nails the era perfectly.

    41 out of 49 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2013

    Anonymous

    A well written story. I liked that the author got to the point of things without a lot of unecessary language and detail. Also I was drawn into the story and the more I read the more I wanted to know how the story would end. Good strong characters and easy to read flowing sentences. Great imagination by this writer. Five stars, well deserved.

    27 out of 29 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2013

    Finally......A free book that is not a romance or children's boo

    Finally......A free book that is not a romance or children's book.

    25 out of 82 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2013

    Excellent Historical Fiction

    This book is worth reading. Dr. Ian Mortimer, writing as James Forrester, has written a well-researched thriller that holds the interest with personalities and locations from 1563. It has intrigue, swordplay, and strong men and women fighting for their cause. I am very impressed with his detailed descriptions of the writings, the manuscripts, and the London of those times. I am not an expert, but I read voraciously, and this has some of the best writing skills that I have seen lately. It was not too long, not too short, and complete in itself, even though I understand it to be first in a trilogy. Read the author's notes at the end for interesting historical background.

    21 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 15, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    It is a great book

    It is a great book

    13 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2013

    Dear "To Question"

    Logic dear one logic! How can B&N lose money on free item? Haven't you heard of loss leaders?
    If you want the free books to suit your taste you might try the library. Yes libraries DO have ebooks available. You are not the Lone Ranger so don't be so ungracious re a GIFT!!
    Have you no shame for being so self centerd?

    8 out of 29 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2013

    Great

    First let me say I am Catholic and I don't see why others would have a problem with this novel. I did not, perhaps because my Catholic University where I received my Bachelor's taught me to think for myself. I enjoyed this story immensely. It was intriguing and kept a good pace. I ended up reading it in two days as I HAD to find out how it ended.

    Anyone that enjoys novels dealing with the history of England's royals through the ages will delight in this tale set during the reign of Elizabeth the Virgin Queen.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 16, 2013

    Um... how can Barnes and Noble "lose money" by not sup

    Um... how can Barnes and Noble "lose money" by not supplying us with FREE books that we love? Are you going to go out and purchase more books from their website after finding a good Free Friday book? I didn't think so... The fact that they supply free books at all is wonderfully generous, and if each and every one of them pleased the users, that would be astonishing. Some people do not understand how economics work... Thank you for the historical fiction, B&N! As an adament user of the Nook, I do enjoy these kinds of romances over the contemporary romance novels, but different readers enjoy different books. If you were to change things up in the weeks to come, I would recommend throwing a science fiction or humor novel into the mix (if you can acquire the rights to a good one, which most likely factors into the decision). Thanks again for free fridays, regardless of the choice!

    6 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2013

    I love historical fiction!!! This is a wonderful choice

    This is an excellent choice for "free Friday" All you complainers & whiners out there, cease & desist! They have offered kids books. Besides, we adults are the ones who purchase the vast majority of books as well as nooks. Kids have too much catered to them anyway. It's about time we grown-ups get our "free lunch". Too many children are spoiled rotten nowadays. They are darn lucky if they even have an e-reader. We would be better off if they weren't chatting and role-playing on their nooks,and stuck with their schoolbooks and BORROWED books from the library. Leave these electronic devices to peoplewho can use them responsibly!!! Thank you Mr.Forrester for a truly enjoyable read laced with a dash of history. And a MAJOR thank you to B&N for the privilege of a free book. I for one heartily appreciate this program of "Free Fridays". Please keep it forever; I'll never look a "gift horse in the mouth"! KD

    5 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2013

    Dummy

    This book is good. How can yoy talk about a religion like that

    5 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2013

    Great book

    The characters are very well developed - even the ones that you want to hate. I loved the story line - following the clues reminded me a bit of the DaVinci Code, but the twists and turns of the story kept me interested!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2013

    Enjoyable read.

    I liked this book which was a free Friday selection. It is well written and filled with interesting characters. There is good action. While the story does continue in his next book, I like the fact that the story is complete and you don't have to read the next book to get closure with book one. If you enjoy historical fiction, i would recommend this book. The only reason I did not give it 5 stars is because I don't have a burning desire to follow the story any further beyond book one.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2013

    13 and up

    21 and up thats who its for. Has lots of romance and will make you throw up

    3 out of 84 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2013

    Same old nonsense

    Need better friday selections.

    2 out of 30 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2013

    Great read

    Enjoyed the bits of history and the fast pace

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2013

    An interesting read

    When I was finally able to get into the story, it was interesting. The final message I got from it is something I agree with. You'll have to read it to find out what the message is and if you agree with it or not. Enjoy.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2013

    Well written and free...

    I enjoyed this book. I felt the author did a great job of mixing historical events with fiction. Im Catholic and I dont understand how this offensive to others to interfere with their assessment of the book. Leave the religion out of it...the time that the author wrote about was a very dangerous time spiritually and politically. He did a good job of portraying it. Well done and i enjoyed it more that it was free! Thanks B and N!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2013

    A "Da Vinci Code" style thriller

    Set in mid 16th century England, Sacred Treason pits Clarenceux King of Arms and the legacy of Henry Machyn, against Francis Walsingham and Sergeant Richard Crackenthorpe in a brutal race to find a book that challenges the legitimacy of the Queen of England. Clarenceux and Machyn are a Catholics at a time when the Church of England is actively trying to eliminate the Catholic faith from England. Machyn has been entrusted by the Knights of the Round Table to protect a book which contains information that could dethrone the Queen of England and cause Mary, Queen of Scots, to ascend to rule all of Great Britain. One of the first problems is that Machyn is killed protecting the book and leaves Clarenceux only a cryptic riddle to find the book and understand it's contents.
    Walsingham doesn't know what's in the book either except that it challenges the current regime and hence anyone involved with it are traitors. Crackenthorpe is Walsingham's henchman and is absolutely brutal in the execution of his duties.
    Forrester, I believe, accurately describes the conditions and culture of the time and tells a compelling tale. Set in mid winter, his descriptions of the conditions actually made me feel cold. There are some brutal scenes, but then again, it was a brutal time in history. The Catholic/Protestant angle provides a subtle context for the rest of the story and is really only there for background. If you like historical fiction, I really think you'll like this book!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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