The Final Sacrament
William Harley, Clarenceux, is Queen Elizabeth’s chief herald – and a Catholic. Though he serves his queen loyally, he hides a secret: a document that, if brought to light, would give Elizabeth’s enemies the perfect means to destroy her. Clarenceux has vowed never to give up the document, but the Queen’s enemies are relentless; they threaten him through increasingly violent means, until finally attacking and kidnapping his family. Now all of Clarenceux’s deepest convictions are put to the ultimate test – do his loyalties lie with his queen, his faith, or his loved ones? How much is he willing to sacrifice to save them?
This is the final volume of a trilogy, but it stands well enough on its own. After a slightly heavy prologue, the story picks up and flows smoothly, written in a series of short scene/chapters that keep things moving at a swift pace. The writing style is also streamlined, conveying emotion and detail while remaining unburdened by overly ornate language. Elizabethan England is portrayed in gritty detail, with a realistic feel sure to please Tudor fans; but the real draw of this story is its poignancy, its ruminations on what loyalty really means. Coming into this series at its conclusion, I look forward to going back and reading it from the beginning.