Sacred Treason

Sacred Treason

by James Forrester

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Your God. Your Country. Your Kin.
Who Do You Betray?

1563: Anyone could be a suspect; any Catholic could be accused of plotting against the throne. Clarenceux keeps his head down and his religion quiet. But when a friend desperately pleads with Clarenceux to hide a manuscript for him, he is drawn into a web of treachery and conspiracy he may never untangle. Is there no refuge if your faith is your enemy?

Bestselling author Dr. Ian Mortimer, writing as James Forrester, has crafted a chilling, brilliant story that re-imagines how the explosive mix of faith and fear can tear a country apart. Sacred Treason tells a thrilling story of murder, betrayal, and loyalty—and the power of the written word.

Claureceux Trilogy:
Sacred Treason (Book 1)
The Roots of Betrayal (Book 2)
The Final Sacrament (Book 3)

"An Elizabethan romp featuring a conspiracy, a secret manuscript, and whispers about Anne Boleyn."—Sunday Times
"Vivid and dramatic."—The Guardian
"Arresting."—Daily Telegraph

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781402272677
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 10/01/2012
Series: Clarenceux Trilogy , #1
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 1,117,045
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

James Forrester is the pen name of the historian Dr. Ian Mortimer. Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and winner of its Alexander Prize for his work on social history, he is the author of four highly acclaimed medieval biographies and the Sunday Times bestsellers The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England and The Time Traveler's Guide to Elizabethan England. He lives with his wife and three children in the Southwest of England.

Read an Excerpt


Saturday, December 11

Clarenceux was sitting in his candlelit study with his robe close around him. He was alone again but for Henry Machyn's chronicle, smelling the wood smoke of his study. He heard footsteps on the stairs. A moment later his daughter Annie appeared, holding an orange. Her brown hair was tied back, showing off her high forehead.

"Annie, you should be asleep. It's very late," he said, welcoming her into his arms.

"Yes, but Mother said I could show you this," she replied, thrusting out the orange and smiling. "We buyed it in the market. It was priced a shilling."

"You bought it in the market," he corrected. "Not buyed it." He took the orange and held it up, examining it. "A whole shilling? Do you know why it was so much?"


"Oranges grow on trees in a country far away, called Spain, where the sun shines all day long. Then they are picked and packed in barrels..."

Annie was not listening. She was looking at the chronicle that lay open on the table board. "What is this?" she asked.

"A book. A chronicle."

"What does it say?"

"It says, ‘December the eleventh. On this day did Ann, daughter of Mr. Clarenceux-'"

Clarenceux stopped suddenly. The next words read: dye from her ateing of an orange fruyte.

"Go. Go downstairs, now," he commanded.

He watched her go. She left the door open. He knew she would be crying; he had been too abrupt. But he had had reason: this was outrageous. How dare Machyn write such things! Did the man not hope to win his favor? How far had his wits wandered?

He turned back to the chronicle. The next entry read: Ye following daye dyed his wyfe Awdrey from the poysoninge appel gyven unto her by Mr. Clarenshux because hee dyd not anymoore love her.

He swept the book off the table board, sending his visitation, two other volumes, inkwell, and paper flying across the chamber. As it fell he stood up, rage filling his body, and turned the board itself over. Did he not love her? He bent down and lifted the chronicle, and threw it with all his force across the room. Did he not love them both? His daughter? His wife? The mother of his children? How could anyone have written...

"William, William!" he heard his wife shout. "William, stop it!"

He opened his eyes. It was light, the shutters were open. Awdrey was leaning over him, a loose strand of blonde hair hanging down.

Clarenceux rubbed his hand over his face, feeling his brow soaked with sweat. He lay back in his bed, warm and fresh, where the study in his dream had been smoky and cold. It seemed to him as if the malevolence of the previous night had come back with him, into his house.

That book...

It had been a prophetic dream, he knew. He had to give the book back to Machyn. But today was the day that Machyn had foretold was the day of his death.

"You've been thrashing about in your sleep like a man possessed," said Awdrey, her voice tinged with fear. "Where were you last night? I waited after all that knocking on the door, but you didn't come to bed. Thomas told me this morning that you went out. And now you are shouting in your sleep, shouting about me and about Annie like a man gone mad, beating your arms about. What happened? Where did you go?"

He sat upright and breathed deeply. Calmer now, he swung his legs out of the bed and sat in his shirt, looking at the open window.

Blue sky. The rain had stopped. He looked at the crucifix on the wall.

"Did Thomas tell you who called last night?"

"He said it was Goodman Machyn."

"Yes, it was Machyn," he replied, glancing at her. "He is in trouble."

"Trouble? What sort of trouble?"

"He is in fear of his life. He was terrified. I didn't realize at first how serious his situation was. It only occurred to me later, after he had gone. So I went after him. A royal sergeant-at-arms stopped me."

"William, that was not sensible."

Clarenceux gazed out of the window. "I thought at the time I could help him."

Awdrey said nothing.

Clarenceux stood up. "Will you fetch me some water?"

Awdrey slipped off the bed and picked up the jug. With it, she filled the brass basin on the floor, draped a towel over her arm, and then lifted the basin and carried it to her husband. He nodded his thanks and splashed cold water over his face, wetting his shirt.

"There is some sort of conspiracy afoot," he said. "Machyn is involved. He believes he will be killed today."

He took the towel from her arm and wiped his face. He threw it on the bed and stood, looking into her blue eyes. "I didn't realize it was treason. I still don't think it is. I thought..." He searched her frightened eyes. "I don't know what I thought. I felt that whatever trouble he might be in, he is a good man, and so I had no choice but to try to help him."

"How?" she asked, a little coldly. "In what way could you have helped?"

Clarenceux shook his head. "I cannot tell you, my love." He looked away. He let go of her and went over to his clothes chest. He lifted the lid and pulled out a folded shirt. It smelled strongly of lavender and cloves, like the rest of his clean linen. "All I know is that...I have to find out more. I am going to go and look for him this morning."

"You still intend to? Even though he is a traitor? And you mean to go by yourself?"

"Goodman Machyn is not a traitor. I'll take Thomas with me."

"Go with friends. No one argues with you when you have your heralds and pursuivants about you."

Clarenceux lifted a clean pair of hose from his clothes chest. "I will take Thomas," he repeated. "All I need to do is ask Machyn one thing."

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"A brilliant mystery adventure ... seamlessly incorporating known facts and people of the time with fictional aspects to progress the story ... A must read for historical fiction lovers." - Passages to the Past

"Reading Sacred Treason was like being completely immersed in the world of 16th Century England (without the smells). It was bracing and marvelous and compelling from beginning to end.
" - Book Lovers Inc.

Customer Reviews

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Sacred Treason 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 207 reviews.
jrcrawdad More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this right from the start. I love a good book that gives you a look at what life was like in the past through the thoughts and actions of the characters. The suspense was constant and the characters very believable, no over the top heros, just normal people caught up in goverment intrigue. I would highly recommend this fun ride through ancient England.
TurningThePagesBlog More than 1 year ago
Sacred Treason was one of those novels that took me completely by surprise. I was blown away by how much I enjoyed this book and I really have to thank the publicist who contacted me offering me a spot on this books tour. This book had everything I wanted. I haven't read many historical mysteries especially not ones set in Tudor England so this one was a real treat for me. I can honestly say that I've never read a book like it and I'm super excited that I had the opportunity to read this. I really enjoyed the sense of adventure in this novel as Clarenceux solved the mystery behind the mysterious book that his friend Henry gave him. It was a non-stop ride for me and I found myself staying up late last night just to finish it because I couldn't help but want to see what would happen next. The writing was seemless and addictive each chapter left me wanting to find out more and more and I very much enjoyed the characters that James Forrester created in his fictional debut. I have to say that Clarenceux is one of my new favourite characters now because he himself was just as intriguing as the mystery surround the book in his possession. The way the book was set up was very much in the way of an adventure novel. I loved the historical details that were paid attention to and the descriptions of the times, the places and the people were wonderfully done. I loved the tension between Clareneux and his wicked counterparts who were up to no good it was thrilling to see how the whole novel played out and I'm glad I had a chance to read it. I really think that the author's historical background was a real asset to him in writing this novel. He's an author of non fiction titles under his real name Ian Mortimer which gives him that extra edge to pen this series. Like I said before I'm not really familiar with the historical mystery genre Sacred Treason has really sparked an interest in me to explore other books that are part of the genre and there's nothing I like more than to be introduced to a new genre so you can expect to see more reviews of books like this in the future. Since I am a fan of both historical fiction as well as mystery novels this bridge between both genres worked out well for me. I highly recommend this book to those who are fans of historical fiction and historical mysteries. If you love books set in Tudor England than I think this book might just be up your alley but if you're anything like me you may find yourself up to all hours of the night reading it. I for one am eagerly anticipating reading the other two books in this series and I'm hoping to do so soon. * I received a free copy of this book from the published via NetGalley in exchange for my free and honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own and I was not compensated in any way.
TudorTemper More than 1 year ago
As a fan of the CJ Sansom Shardlake series, I absolutely recommend this rip-roaring ride through Elizabethan England. Those familiar with Tudor history will recognize key players Cecil and Walsingham, and the sectarian strife that ruled 16th century England.  Forrester (Mortimer) does a masterful job showcasing the day-to-day life for every level of society in London of that time - what they ate, what they wore, how they lived. I can't wait for his "A Time Traveler's Guide to Elizabethan England" is published, as well, I believe in May. Really great new character and Forrester nails the era perfectly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A well written story. I liked that the author got to the point of things without a lot of unecessary language and detail. Also I was drawn into the story and the more I read the more I wanted to know how the story would end. Good strong characters and easy to read flowing sentences. Great imagination by this writer. Five stars, well deserved.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is worth reading. Dr. Ian Mortimer, writing as James Forrester, has written a well-researched thriller that holds the interest with personalities and locations from 1563. It has intrigue, swordplay, and strong men and women fighting for their cause. I am very impressed with his detailed descriptions of the writings, the manuscripts, and the London of those times. I am not an expert, but I read voraciously, and this has some of the best writing skills that I have seen lately. It was not too long, not too short, and complete in itself, even though I understand it to be first in a trilogy. Read the author's notes at the end for interesting historical background.
CheckRaise01 More than 1 year ago
It is a great book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First let me say I am Catholic and I don't see why others would have a problem with this novel. I did not, perhaps because my Catholic University where I received my Bachelor's taught me to think for myself. I enjoyed this story immensely. It was intriguing and kept a good pace. I ended up reading it in two days as I HAD to find out how it ended. Anyone that enjoys novels dealing with the history of England's royals through the ages will delight in this tale set during the reign of Elizabeth the Virgin Queen.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The characters are very well developed - even the ones that you want to hate. I loved the story line - following the clues reminded me a bit of the DaVinci Code, but the twists and turns of the story kept me interested!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked this book which was a free Friday selection. It is well written and filled with interesting characters. There is good action. While the story does continue in his next book, I like the fact that the story is complete and you don't have to read the next book to get closure with book one. If you enjoy historical fiction, i would recommend this book. The only reason I did not give it 5 stars is because I don't have a burning desire to follow the story any further beyond book one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed the bits of history and the fast pace
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I was finally able to get into the story, it was interesting. The final message I got from it is something I agree with. You'll have to read it to find out what the message is and if you agree with it or not. Enjoy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. I felt the author did a great job of mixing historical events with fiction. Im Catholic and I dont understand how this offensive to others to interfere with their assessment of the book. Leave the religion out of it...the time that the author wrote about was a very dangerous time spiritually and politically. He did a good job of portraying it. Well done and i enjoyed it more that it was free! Thanks B and N!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this kept me very interested and guessing. I love historical fictions and will look for more books by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Intrigue, honor, duty, characters to love and hate, a mystery chronicle, knights of the round table and so much more. Get this book, i was not disappointed.
Hypatia1 More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent book - I am looking forward to the sequel. It made me think and had vivid descriptions that made the history come to life. I dont understand how people think it is anti-catholic - some of the most sympathetic characters are catholic. The book depicts a time of turmoil without taking a clear side. I appreciate that.
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This was a book I could sink my eyes into from the start!
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