Sacred Treason, by James Forrester, is a mystery-thriller novel set in the Elizabethan period. Mr. Harley, better known as Clarenceux, was given the dangerously high mission of decoding and preserving a chronicle that held the secret to the legitimacy of the throne…Why him? Clarenceux was literally thrown into this quest -unbeknown to him were the reasons for his being chosen, nor the dangers and horrors that would accumulate.
Henry Machyn, the church clerk, funeral arranger and tailor was the person who wrote this chronicle. Before meeting his final fate, Machyn delivered the document to Clarenceux and bestowed upon him the duty of its safety, deliverance and decoding- all for the sake of re-instating the Catholic faith and the political changes that that would entail.
This plight would prove almost insurmountable for Clarenceux as all odds were against him. William Cecil, the Queen’s head advisor and Walsingham her counselor and spy planned to get a hold of the chronicle at any cost. This put the merciless soldier Crackenthorpe at the forefront of the mission. Clarenceux would fight him off until the end…
The tale leads us into an intricate maze-like plot, with Clarenceux solving the mystery step by step. Along his treacherous journey he was accompanied by Machyn’s widow, Rebecca. The two of them became very close due to the nature of their dangerous mission which lead them to care deeply for one another. There were several moments where Clarenceux (married with children) desired Rebecca (and vice versa) but his respect for her, his wife and his Catholic faith kept him strong in avoiding temptation. (Although this rang a bit holier than thou- it also stressed as commendable and in line with his faith).
Clarenceux faced incredible obstacles to preserve ‘the truth’ in the precious document. To further the mystery of this puzzle, there were nine Knights of the Round Table, who had all sworn to keep the faith and preserve the chronicle for its sublime truth as well.
Packed with action and well researched history, James Forrester writes a novel that will capture the interest of those who love their history mixed with gruesome fighting, torture, mystery and suspense. The book is detailed to the very moment although at times it felt like there was just too much that lasted too long. I loved the beginning and was immediately drawn into this story, but then the scenes, the journey and quest altogether felt endless. I would have preferred a faster pace with less dragging and over-telling it, with less battles and action.
But then, that’s just me, preferring more heroine material over soldiers torturing, and settings in dark tunnels. Yet, truth be told, the story was gripping enough for me to read up until the end- I really wanted to see that mystery solved!
Definitely an interesting take on historical mystery- the whole idea of this chronicle and its possibility is brilliant in itself. Engaging and sure to be a hit for lovers of historical mysteries revolving around a male hero. My rating is closer to 2 1/2 stars