The Second Blast of the Trumpet

Written by Marie MacPherson
Review by Marilyn Sherlock

John Knox, the 16th-century Protestant religious reformer, is the subject of this book, the second in a trilogy about his life and times. History has often cast him as a stern, misogynistic, bible-thumping Calvinist, and this book seeks to get behind the myths and to discover the real man. He was probably educated at St. Andrews University and worked as a notary-priest. Knox was much influenced by George Wishart, and he joined the movement to reform the Scottish Church. He became a Royal Chaplain to Edward VI and had some influence in compiling the text of the Book of Common Prayer. We are told that he married twice and travelled extensively around Europe, always in the company of several women, and that on his return to Scotland he led the Protestant Reformation in Scotland.

Although I knew something of John Knox, and was keen to learn more, I found this book hard going. The pace is slow, and I was constantly skipping pages to get to the next point of the action. This was not helped by the author’s constant use of the Scottish vernacular. To be fair, I could understand the gist of the sentences, but to an English reader it only serves to slow the pace even further. A glossary might have helped. The author’s notes help to paint in the background, but I am sad to say that I will not be using the other two books in the trilogy to follow the complete life and times of John Knox.