State of Treason
By Paul Walker
A cauldron of conspiracy, intrigue and torture.
The might of Spain and the growing influence of the Catholic League in France all threaten the stability of Queen Elizabeth and her state.
William Constable, a physician and astrologer, is summoned to the presence of the Queen’s spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham. He is charged to assist a renowned Puritan, John Foxe, in uncovering the secrets of a mysterious cabinet containing an astrological chart and coded message. Together, these claim Elizabeth has a hidden, illegitimate child (an “unknowing maid”) who will be declared to the masses and serve as the focus for an invasion.
Constable must uncover the identity of the plotters, unaware that he is also under suspicion.
A connection to his estranged mentor, Doctor Dee, comes under scrutiny.
Pressured into taking up a position as a court physician, Constable becomes a reluctant spy.
Do the stars and cipher speak true, or is there some other malign intent in the complex web of scheming?
Constable becomes an unwitting pawn, in a complex game of thrones and power.
State of Treason is the first in a series of Elizabethan thrillers featuring William Constable.
“The thought that our Queen may have hidden a child is disturbing and I understand why enemies of our state would wish to spread such ideas...”
A Virgin Queen? Rumour has it that Elizabeth’s reputation is not so white as she would have her subjects believe. Behind closed doors, there is talk of a bastard child — a maid. Such talk is dangerous, but if it were to be proven true, then Elizabeth’s position as Supreme Governor of the English Protestant Church would be undermined. But worse than that, Elizabeth could lose her throne and all that she had worked so hard to achieve.
Sir Francis Walsingham, spymaster and the principle Secretary to Queen Elizabeth I, has been watching the rise of the Catholic League in France and the growing influence of Spain with trepidation. Walsingham had witnessed the atrocities against Protestants during the Massacre de la Saint-Barthélemy in France. His greatest fear was that the same would happen in England. Walsingham is single-minded in his determination that such a calamity would never stain the soil of England red.
When the spymaster summons you, it is in your best interest to answer his call. Physician and astrologer, William Constable, finds himself in an unprecedented situation. Walsingham has requested that William and the renowned Puritan, John Foxe, discover the secrets of a mysterious cabinet. What they discover is shocking. Could the whispered rumours of an illegitimate child be true? Walsingham suggests that it is a plot to discredit the Queen and to divide the nation. He wants to know who is behind this latest conspiracy so that he can stop them.
Drawn into a world of espionage, treason and sedition, William must use his wits and skill if he is to discover those responsible for the conspiracy before it is too late.
With an exceptional eye to historical detail and a sweepingly impressive narrative, State of Treason by Paul Walker is the powerfully compulsive story of William Constable as he tries to unravel and thwart a plot against Elizabeth’s throne.
Between the pages of this remarkable novel, is an exploration of the world of espionage and the dangers that such a life brings. Walsingham was a man who sanctioned the torture of Catholic priests and suspected conspirators. He is not a man that William would have chosen to spend time with. William finds himself thrust into a world that he does not want to be a part of, and he is very mindful of the responsibility that has been placed upon his shoulders. He wants to serve his Queen, and he will do everything within his power to help Walsingham do this, but at the same time, he is always heedful of the treatment of those who Walsingham suspects of wrongdoings. Walsingham is feared by many and for a good reason. He is unmerciful. William wants to be absolutely sure that the information he gathers and gives to Walsingham is correct. William is a man of deep integrity and has a compassionate heart which made him, in one way, wholly unsuitable for espionage. However, his hesitation and his determination to handle the situation with incredible care and conscious thought made him precisely the right man for this delicate and secretive task. Walker has presented his readers with a character who is wonderfully human and extremely likeable.
This book is not all about espionage and danger. There are some lighter, tender moments as well. William’s relationship with his mother made him incredibly appealing. He is a gentle man who loves deeply and shoulders a great responsibility for the people who depend on him. That, notwithstanding, he is also prepared to fight, to the death if necessary, to keep those he loves safe. Alongside this, there is also a beautiful love story which made me hope for the best, but at the same time, fearful for the worst. William is torn between his duty and keeping the woman he loves safe. I simply adored William. Such a wonderfully rounded protagonist that I could not help but want the best outcome for him.
Walker deserves the highest of praise for not only does he write highly appealing characters, but he has also brought back to life the danger and the intrigue of the glittering Tudor court. Walker has a wonderful novelist eye for historical detail. Nothing is beyond the telling. The streets of Tudor London came alive under Walker’s masterful depiction. One could almost smell the stench coming from the animal waste on the roads and the sickening smell of the blood of so-called papist as they hang from the scaffold. Likewise, I fancied I could taste the sweetness of the plums and the bitterness of cheap wine. Kudo’s, Mr Walker for breathing life back into Tudor England.
The difference between the richness of court life and the abject poverty of the Queen’s subjects was also drawn with extraordinary care and skill. There is no doubt in my mind that Walker has a visceral understanding of what makes history worth reading.
As the blurb suggests and as I have stated, this story is about a plot to overthrow the Queen. There was a hint of Arthur Conan Doyle’s, who is best known for his fabulous Sherlock Holmes series, style of writing in this book. So many questions came to mind as I tried to, along with William, put the pieces together. Walker kept me guessing right up until the very end of the novel, which is what I would expect from an exceptionally well written historical thriller. I thought it was absolutely brilliant and skilfully executed.
State of Treason is a book that has been penned with a great deal of energy and imagination, while at the same time staying true to the historical era that it is set in. Fans of C. J. Sansom’s The Shardlake Series will love this book. I look forward to reading book 2 in what promises to be a fabulous series.
I Highly Recommend.
Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
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