Friday, May 31, 2013

The Roots of Betrayal by James Forrester

The Roots of Betrayal is the second in a trilogy set in Elizabethan England.  I read the first one (Sacred Treason) last year and liked it enough to agree to be part of the blog tour for this one.   Using a minor historical figure, William Harley, Clarenceux, King of Arms, the author explores the lines people draw regarding religion, love, loyalty and betrayal and at what point those lines are crossed in the name of something more important.

The plot revolves a particularly damning piece of paper that Clarenceux has been charged with guarding with his life by William Cecil.  Since it has the potential to topple Queen Elizabeth off her throne, a small group of Catholics are eager to get their hands on it.  And even though Clarenceux is a Catholic himself, his loyalty to his country and his fear of the revolution that would take place force him to agree to Cecil’s plan.  Things go horribly wrong though when the document is stolen and Clarenceux ends up on another wild and thrilling chase to track it down.

As in the first book, Forrester is at his best when exploring the depths of human character and the inner turmoil, self justifications and doubt that go along with making life altering decisions.  Clarenceux often struggles with what to him is right and wrong and the line between the two sometimes moves, causing him to reevaluate his beliefs and how far he is willing to go for them.  He’s not always satisfied with the result.

Clarenceux is seriously flawed and I like the character Forrester has created for him – except for one thing:  the man has almost superhuman abilities when he’s injured.  Throughout the hunt for the document, the poor man is tortured, punched, stabbed, kicked, imprisoned and almost drowned.  And somehow he can always fight his way through or walk several miles to get where he needs to be next.  Once or twice maybe; but the frequency with which it happens here is just beyond belief and borders on the ridiculous.

Labeled as a “thriller”, Forrester delivers on an intricately woven story that provides a couple of great bombshells at the end – didn’t see those coming!  And although I thought there was a tendency to drag fighting scenes out way, way longer than they needed to be, I enjoyed this one as well and am looking forward to the final volume.

Rating:  3.5 stars

In case the FTC asks:  copy from the publisher

1 comment:

Melissa @ Confessions of an Avid Reader said...

My thoughts on this book are quite similar to yours, including Clarenceux's uncanny ability to (a) function with horrendous injuries, and (b) constantly escape situations where he is badly outnumbered and weaponless.