This is an historical novel, taking place in the 1500’s, during the time of the rivalry between Mary Stewart, Queen of Scots, and Elizabeth Tudor, Queen of England, for their rightful place on the throne. To protect her family’s right to rule England, and prevent Mary, from ascending to the throne next, Elizabeth I, the Queen of England, has imprisoned Mary for years.
A plot has been uncovered that hopes to restore Mary, (daughter of King James V, whose son ascends to the throne after Elizabeth I,) to what some consider to be her rightful place on the throne and to remove Elizabeth (considered a bastard child of her father, King Henry VIII), thus restoring Catholicism to its rightful place in England, and also placing the person they believe is the rightful and legitimate heir to England, upon the throne.
The Papists, followers of Mary, are at odds with the Protestants who are followers of Elizabeth who rules over the Church of England. Religion has been the cause of contention throughout history; it has caused many a war and will probably continue to do so, unfortunately.
Ambassador Castelnaus, his wife and followers, are loyal to Mary Stewart; some are fanatic and some are more tempered, as the Ambassador is, hoping for a diplomatic solution to the problem of the ascendancy to the throne of England. Some, however, are arguing for war and a hostile takeover.
It is hard for me to justify Bruno’s duplicitous behavior, which will sacrifice those who have befriended him, but he is working for the cause of England, and in the interest of one cause or another, people are often used to accomplish what is considered a justifiable end result. Right and wrong often simply depends on which side of the struggle you sit.
Bruno has been excommunicated from the Catholic Church, and is a defrocked monk, because of his beliefs about the planetary cycles, the power of memory and also supernatural, magical influences. He is called “the heretic”. Giordano Bruno, is employed by Sir Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth Tudor’s principal Secretary of State, as a secret double agent, to spy for England’s cause and protect the Queen from plots against her life and government, while at the same time, he lives with, and is being protected by, the French Ambassador, Castelnaus.
The plot thickens with the introduction of the Spanish government into the plan to remove Elizabeth from the throne. Ambassador Mendoza is a force to be reckoned with. Intrigue and murder mysteries are exciting and the plot will capture your attention and interest. It is well written and easy to read, notwithstanding the fact that some will be aware of the eventual outcome from a knowledge of history, and even though some of the conspiracies and deceptions sometimes seem contrived and Bruno seems a bit naïve and unprepared for the task before him, the story will often keep you on the edge of your seat.
My one suggestion to the author, when the final copy is published (I read an ARC), is that she includes a timeline and a list of characters with their affiliations to make the book a bit less confusing for those of us who need to brush up on our history courses.
As an added note, interestingly, the issues raised in the book have become very current. Religion has been the cause of contention throughout history; it has caused many a war and will probably continue to do so, unfortunately. The Middle East is now exploding with civil unrest and the overthrowing of existing governments. Islamic forces are forging ahead in many places causing religious concern for some. The unusual alignment of planets now, in the early part of the 21st century, has also caused alarm and consternation. As weather patterns become more dangerous and monumental storms occur more often, there are actually rumblings in the air, from some quarters, about the end of times approaching. In England, the monarchy is changing, with another Elizabeth on the throne. Prince William, the grandchild has taken a commoner for a wife. For sure it is a time of change, if nothing else.