About The Book
Hailes Castle, 1511. Midnight on a doom-laden Hallowe’en and Elisabeth Hepburn, feisty daughter of the Earl of Bothwell, makes a wish – to wed her lover, the poet David Lindsay. But her uncle has other plans. To safeguard the interests of the Hepburn family she is to become a nun and succeed her aunt as Prioress of St. Mary’s Abbey, Haddington.
However, plunged into the political maelstrom and religious turmoil of the early Scottish Reformation, her life there is hardly one of quiet contemplation. Strong-willed and independent, she clashes with those who question her unorthodox regime at St. Mary’s, including Cardinal David Beaton and her rival, Sister Maryoth Hay.
But her greatest struggle is against her thrawn godson, John Knox. Witnessing his rejection of the Roman Catholic Church – aided by David Lindsay – she despairs that the sins of her past may have contributed to his present disenchantment.
As he purges himself from the puddle of papistry, Knox finds his voice, denouncing everything he once held dear, but will that include his godmother, Prioress Elisabeth? And by confessing her dark secrets, will Elisabeth steer Knox from the pernicious pull of Protestantism or drive him further down the fateful path he seems hell-bent on, a path that leads to burning at the stake?
In a daring attempt to shed light on a wheen of unanswered questions about John Knox’s early, undocumented life, this novel throws up some startling claims and controversial conjectures.
The First Blast of the Trumpet is book one of The Knox Trilogy.
Sam Bains Guest Review
With ‘The First Blast of the Trumpet’ Marie Macpherson leads us on a rollicking romp through Scottish history. The book is set in Edinburgh and the Lothians (with short excursions to France and England) between the years 1511 and 1548; a very tumultuous time for Scotland. The book is a giddy roller coaster ride with murder and mayhem, treachery and torture, infanticide and regicide galore. The descriptive passages are extremely well written; you can smell sweet new mown hay, imagine the blood of dead soldiers on Flodden Fields and, at times, the blast of cold air sends a shiver down your spine.
The plot fair gallops along with old characters being killed off at an alarming rate but constantly being replaced with new and fresh ones. At times I for one was actually in those damp, dreich, pungent castles with spies and murderers watching my every step. I reached the end of the novel with a palpable sense of relief at still being alive. The author really does bring this whole world to life in a real and tangible way.
I also feel that the complicated situations, relationships and characters were brought to the page in an assured and straightforward way particularly the handling of the convoluted and self-serving politics of Jacobian Scotland which did not seem too complex to be understood. After a while, I found the constant use of coothy, auld Scots words and phrases a bit tiresome. I am old enough to know the meaning of most of them but younger or English readers may find a glossary a useful addition.
That said, maybe I am just a blethering, auld besom havering in my glaur! This is a book worth buying in paper form so you can get the benefit of the family trees and map which were all but invisible on my kindle.
With this first installment, Marie Macpherson has led us on an exciting journey through Scotland’s murky past. I cannot wait to read the next.
About The Author
Marie Macpherson (nee Gilroy) was born in the Honest Toun of Musselburgh, six miles from the Scottish capital, Edinburgh.
She has a PhD in Russian Literature and spent a year in the Soviet Union to research her thesis on the 19th century Russian writer, Lermontov, said to be descended from the Scottish poet and seer, Thomas the Rhymer.
The rich history of East Lothian – especially during the Reformation – provides the inspiration for her first fictional work, based on the early life of the Scottish reformer, John Knox.
Prizes and awards include the Martha Hamilton Prize for Creative Writing from Edinburgh University and ‘Writer of the Year 2011′ title awarded by Tyne & Esk Writers.
She is a member of the Historical Writers’ Association (HWA) and the Historical Novel Society (HNS).
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