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Sacred Treason (Clarenceux Trilogy #1)

3.64  ·  Rating Details ·  1,330 Ratings  ·  186 Reviews
1563: England is a troubled nation. Catholic plots against the young Queen Elizabeth have left the country in a state of fear and suspicion.
Respected heralad William Harley, known as Clarenceaux, King of Arms, receives a manuscript chronicle containing a dangerous secret. Soon the State and its ruthless enforcers are destroying Clarenceaux’s home in search of the chronicl
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published August 2010 by Headline Review (first published 2010)
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Sarah (Presto agitato)
During the reign of Elizabeth I, religion was a dangerous topic. The country had been jerked violently back and forth between Catholicism and Protestantism during the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Mary, often with highly unpleasant consequences for those who found themselves on the wrong side of the officially authorized faith du jour. Queen Elizabeth was the target of several conspiracies to replace her with a Catholic monarch. She had a spy network, headed by Francis Walsingham, that th ...more
This novel was suggested to me by several people as a good follow up to C J Sansom's Shardlake series. Though this takes place later, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, there are some notable similarities.

Our hero in Sacred Treason is a 40-something herald, William Harley Clarenceux King of Arms. He turns out to be as intelligent and surprisingly adventurous as everyone's favorite hunchback lawyer. Unlike Matthew, Clarenceux has a wife and children that he must concern himself about and does n
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
For once, the accuracy of the history was not what was pulling a historical novel down. This time, it was too twisty a plot.
Jason A.
Sacred Treason, by James Forrester, left me a little conflicted. This is a novel that I felt was well written, with beautifully described scenes and characters. The plot had just the right amount of twists to it, and the resolution was satisfactory. I just felt like it took too long to get there.

Several scenes seemed so similar as to have me doubting whether or not I had doubled back somehow. The main character gets caught up in a plot not of his own doing, and is constantly stymied by the same
Oct 11, 2013 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Politics, religion and another man's wife. What a timeless mess of trouble! This is a serious historical fiction based on true and/or disputed facts about the legitimacy of Queen Elizabeth I, daughter of King Henry VIII, of England. The mechanics of good writing are excellent as is the research. The author is a renowned historian, and I should have read his Notes first. The book started slowly for me because of the many names I tried to memorize and my ignorance of the 16th century English legal ...more
Colleen Turner
Oct 10, 2012 Colleen Turner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I initially reviewed this book for the blog Passages To The Past and am so glad I did! Here is my review:

1563: William Harley, Clarenceux King of Arms, is content in his life. As a herald of England, he has had the opportunity to travel the continent and has enjoyed the privilege and relative safety of a gentleman. He has a nice home on London's Fleet Street, a loving wife, two beautiful young daughters and a library full of the books he loves. While the current Queen Elizabeth's Protestant beli
Dan Oates
Sacred Treason is the first novel from the acclaimed historian Ian Mortimer and as such it makes an interesting read. I have read a number of Mortimer’s historical texts and these are usually extremely well written and excellently researched, even though in the case of his book on his historical namesake Roger Mortimer he comes to a conclusion that could be described as contentious. However this is not a review of Ian Mortimer’s work, this is a review of his works under his pen name James Forres ...more
Aug 30, 2013 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
William Harley, Clarenceux King of Arms, is a man of standing and respect. He is also a Catholic, which is why he is nervous of late night visits. When he is visited by Henry Machyn late one evening, he fears it is to be arrested. However, when the clearly afraid Machyn entrusts him with a chronicle, telling him, "the fate of two queens depends upon that book," he finds himself plunged into a possible Catholic conspiracy. Everything he feared - arrest, possible disgrace and the crumbling of his ...more
Chance Maree
Sep 16, 2015 Chance Maree rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical

For me, the story took a back seat to insight concerning citizen life during the reign of Elizabeth I. It was a time of intolerance, when a difference in religious belief spelled treason, resulting in torture and execution. This novel reminded me why the U.S. founders insisted upon separation between church and state. The belief of any one individual cannot trump the civic rights of others. Anyone who supports views coming from right wing conservatives, or cheer for anarchists such as Kim Davis,
Carey Combe
Nov 13, 2010 Carey Combe rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
There's a couple of things I really hate in novels. This one contained a classic - where a character does something stupid (a la Hardy) or out of character in order to move the plot along. I threw this book down up when the hero managed to kill the physcopath's brother - even after he'd been tortured... ridiculous
Sep 19, 2010 Miles rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviews
Set in 1563, four years into the reign of Elizabeth I (7 September 1533 – 24 March 1603), the last of the Tudor dynasty, Sacred Treason delves deeply into troubled England during times of political and religious unrest.

Written by historian James Forrester [The Pen name of Ian Mortimer], Sacred Treason surprised me. I know it’s an often overused cliché but I couldn’t put the book down. I was instantly transported back to Elizabethan times, deep in the heart of a cold and rain soaked London, I nev
Emmanuel Gustin
Ian Mortimer is well known as a non-fiction author who has written a series of excellent books to help us understand life in the medieval and Tudor times. Here, under another name, he strives to achieve the same in fiction. The result is a medieval adventure story with a protagonist, Clarenceux, who in his values, social relationships, and religiosity is a believable 16th-century character. The effect on the modern reader is often, and no doubt intentionally, a bit alienating. Forrester also goe ...more
Helene Harrison
Review - The character background is true: Elizabeth I's reign, people think she's a bastard because her mother, Anne Boleyn, was formerly (allegedly) betrothed to Henry Percy. Clarenceux was also a real person, although it is unlikely that there was a surviving betrothal contract, nevertheless, the characters came across surprisingly well. This is one of the best mystery novels I've ever read. Historical fiction is my favourite book genre and the storyline is very cleverly implemented. It is ba ...more
Feb 19, 2013 Ron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At least four stars. Historical fiction which, despite its deep roots in reality, grabs the reader and drags him or her into the story. All the while I'm flipping pages thinking "I know enough history to know this can't turn out well. Well, I'm not going to tell, but it does turn out.

Unlike so many romantic historical novelists, "Forrester" is true to the feel of the time. Oh, he makes mistakes but they aren't the sort that makes the reader want to rip the covers off the book. Most important, is
Aug 22, 2010 edifanob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-books, 2010-reads
I would rate the book with 3.75 stars which is not possible. So finally I gave four stars.
Splendid depiction of London and surrounding.
ATTENTION: Don't read the author's note at the end of the book before you have finished the novel!! SPOILER!!

Full review needs to be done ....
Mar 15, 2013 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent thriller with a fairly good plot based upon a real book from the middle ages. The author gives you the feel you are really there. Worth reading.
the book got better as it went on as did start off slowly and was a decent historical thriller but not quite in the same league as sansom but full of historic figures from the elizabethan age
Pam Scott
Feb 28, 2013 Pam Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Pam by: Barnes and Noble
I'm hooked, can't wait for the next book in this series.
Jul 24, 2016 Gretchen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tudor-fiction
I'm not really sure how to feel about this book right now.
Oct 16, 2012 Marlene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally published at Book Lovers Inc

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.

It wasn't so much the characters that drew me in as it was the evocation of the time and place. Clarenceaux finds himself in the grip of events, and for most of the book, the events he thinks he's being gripped by aren't the ones that are actually happening.

That's because no on
Oct 29, 2012 Lucy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Sacred Treason, by James Forrester, is a mystery-thriller novel set in the Elizabethan period. Mr. Harley, better known as Clarenceux, was given the dangerously high mission of decoding and preserving a chronicle that held the secret to the legitimacy of the throne…Why him? Clarenceux was literally thrown into this quest -unbeknown to him were the reasons for his being chosen, nor the dangers and horrors that would accumulate.

Henry Machyn, the church clerk, funeral arranger and tailor was the p
Marie Z. Johansen
James Forrester is the nom de plume of Dr. Ian Mortimer whose non-fiction books have delighted me for many years. A couple of my many favorites of Dr. Mortimer's is "The Time Traveler's Guide To Medieval England" and "The Time Traveler's Guide to Elizabethan England".

Dr. Mortimer, writing as James Forrester, has now taken his unique and admirable writing talents to the realm of historical fiction. His Clarenceux Trilogy begins with Sacred Treason which has, gratefully, now been published by Sour
Catherine Berry
Jul 25, 2015 Catherine Berry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
James Forrester is the nom de plume of historian Ian Mortimer who wrote the non-fiction book The Time Travellers Guide to Elizabethan England, a bible for anyone interested in this wonderful era.

Before I even opened the book I knew that the historical accuracy would be spot on and that not only would this be a work of historical fiction, but I would learn some Tudor facts too.

I wasn’t to be disappointed. Forrester has proved himself to be a first class storyteller and delivered a heart stopping,
Oct 10, 2012 Kimberly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 reall
C.P. Lesley
My interview with James Forrester (aka Ian Mortimer) is now live at We had a great conversation about history, historical accuracy, historical fiction, and—of course—his three novels.

London, December 1563. Elizabeth I—Gloriana, the Virgin Queen—has ruled England for five years, but her throne is far from secure. Even though Elizabeth succeeded her half-sister Mary, the idea of a woman sovereign still troubles much of the populace. And although the burnin
Oct 03, 2013 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I found this book to be quite entertaining, and although it was a work of fiction it did weave in historical fact into the story. The author of this book, James Forrestor provided information on what was known to be fact, as well as possibility. I though that the author did justice to the subject of the religious reformation. Also, I thought that he handled the legitimacy of Elizabeth the First in a fair fashion as well.

As far as the chronical written by Henry Machlyn is concerned, it does exsi
Dec 12, 2012 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sacred Treason is a riveting historical fiction thriller set during one of my favorite time periods, Tudor England during the reign of Elizabeth I. William Harley, Clarenceux King of Arms, is interrupted in the night by a knocking the door. Fearful that his religion (Catholicism) has been discovered and that he is to be taken away as a traitor, he is at first happy and then puzzled to see an acquaintance, Henry Machyn, a merchant tailor, at the door. Machyn is also a secret Catholic and gives hi ...more
Regina Lindsey
Sacred Treason by James Forrester
3 Stars

A thriller set in Elizabethan times, the book opens with Henry Machyn, a church clerk and funeral arranger, sending his wife into hiding and seeking out a respected acquaintance, Clarenceux. Machyn, in fear for his life, entrusts a chronicle to Clarenceux's keeping. The chronicle contians the key to a secret that would impact the fate of two queens if revealed. The key can only be deciphered when the Knights of the Round Table, a secret society of the old
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James Forrester is a historian by profession. He has published a few medieval and early modern non-fiction titles under the name Ian Mortimer Ian Mortimer (his full name being Ian James Forrester Mortimer). He lives in Devon with his wife and three children, on the northeast edge of Dartmoor.

The Clarenceux Trilogy was inspired by contemporary documents in the National Archives and the British Libr
More about James Forrester...

Other Books in the Series

Clarenceux Trilogy (3 books)
  • The Roots of Betrayal (Clarenceux, #2)
  • The Final Sacrament (Clarenceux, #3)

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