THE HIRELING by Alison Macleod


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Any writer of historical novels who enters the maze of Tudor intrigue and manages to exit without outrageously assaulting fact, and without a geneaological table, has accomplished the basics in this difficult area--and Miss Macleod adds a few diverting portraits, a contemporary tone, a believable, if not entirely engaging hero. Thomas Vaughan, in the service of Thomas Cromwell, began his double life with enforced spying on the exiled wife of Henry VIII, Katherine. In spite of his admiration for the doughty Queen, Thomas continues various nefarious activities for Cromwell. When he is asked to assassinate Reginald Pole, the Cardinal, in Venice, however, he undergoes a change of heart, enters the Cardinal's household, aware also that Cromwell has been executed. Returning to England in the reign of Queen Mary, Vaughan again is asked to inform--this time on Princess Elizabeth. In his forties Vaughan at last faces his conscience, defies the Cardinal, as he prepares to sacrifice his life for his bastard son, accused of heresy. The Cardinal, however, prey to all the dangers of those who tangle with Tudors, is about to be deposed and Thomas is released. Miss Macleod does her ladies to a handsome, noble turn, although Thomas is less convincing. But the pace is lively, the air bustling with importance. By the author of The Heretic (1965), a modest and inoffensive Tudor construction.

Pub Date: Sept. 12th, 1968
Publisher: Houghton, Mifflin