Begun in January 2021. Finished February 2021. Listened via Audible.
A story of the human condition, from many angles and the intrigue of Elizabethan England from an unusual perspective: a Muslim from the court at Constantinople, to whom the glory of England is like muddy play-acting. Working in the background, mostly unwillingly, at 4 different courts, our hero comes to see that court politics and secrets are the same, the world and religion around. This book is a well-told, enjoyable story.
Recommended by Susan Wise Bauer when we were recording a Scholé Sisters episode with her. I love a good historical fiction about Elizabethan England, so I nabbed it.
The year is 1601. Queen Elizabeth I is dying, childless. Her nervous kingdom has no heir. It is a capital crime even to think that Elizabeth will ever die. Potential successors secretly maneuver to be in position when the inevitable occurs. The leading candidate is King James VI of Scotland, but there is a problem.
The queen’s spymasters – hardened veterans of a long war on terror and religious extremism – fear that James is not what he appears. He has every reason to claim to be a Protestant, but if he secretly shares his family’s Catholicism, then 40 years of religious war will have been for nothing, and a bloodbath will ensue. With time running out, London confronts a seemingly impossible question: What does James truly believe?
It falls to Geoffrey Belloc, a secret warrior from the hottest days of England’s religious battles, to devise a test to discover the true nature of King James’ soul. Belloc enlists Mahmoud Ezzedine, a Muslim physician left behind by the last diplomatic visit from the Ottoman Empire, as his undercover agent. The perfect man for the job, Ezzedine is the ultimate outsider, stranded on this cold, wet, and primitive island. He will do almost anything to return home to his wife and son.
Arthur Phillips returns with a unique and thrilling novel that will leave listeners questioning the nature of truth at every turn.