Forrester delves deeply into 16th-century intrigue to deliver a whale of a yarn.
William Harley, the Catholic herald known as Clarenceaux, is entrusted with a document called the Catholic Treasure. He must guard it with his life since both the legitimacy of Queen Elizabeth and peace in the realm are at stake. As with any good tale of adventure, Clarenceaux faces staggering obstacles and betrayal. Sharing the stage with him is the swashbuckling pirate Raw Carew, the bastard nephew of Sir Peter Carew. One gets the impression that Clarenceaux would like nothing better than to sit by a hearth and peacefully study coats of arms, but he must fight to survive instead. Forrester delivers a solid story on several levels: The plot is strong, the hero brave and honorable, and the details—ah, the details. Be glad, reader, that you didn’t live in Elizabethan times, where filth permeated society. At one point, Clarenceaux is held prisoner and must escape through a hole in the floor, a hole over which many people have sat. The torture and the fights leave little to the imagination but seem mild compared to the scenes on the Davy, the vessel commandeered by the atheist brigand Raw Carew. When the ship is surrounded and the cannons begin to fire, Clarenceaux must show his mettle or die. The blood and gore are horrific, and the reader may blanch. Yet real fighting must have been much as Forrester describes it—violent and cringe-worthy, not romantic.
A winner for any reader who loves historical, action-packed novels.