Hailes Castle, 1511. Midnight on a doom-laden Hallowe'en and Elisabeth Hepburn, feisty daughter of the Earl of Bothwell, makes a wish - to wed her lover, the poet David Lindsay. But her uncle has other plans. To safeguard the interests of the Hepburn family she is to become a nun and succeed her aunt as Prioress of St. Mary's Abbey, Haddington.
However, plunged into the political maelstrom and religious turmoil of the early Scottish Reformation, her life there is hardly one of quiet contemplation. Strong-willed and independent, she clashes with those who question her unorthodox regime at St. Mary's, including Cardinal David Beaton and her rival, Sister Maryoth Hay.
But her greatest struggle is against her thrawn godson, John Knox. Witnessing his rejection of the Roman Catholic Church - aided by David Lindsay - she despairs that the sins of her past may have contributed to his present disenchantment.
As he purges himself from the puddle of papistry, Knox finds his voice, denouncing everything he once held dear, but will that include his godmother, Prioress Elisabeth? And by confessing her dark secrets, will Elisabeth steer Knox from the pernicious pull of Protestantism or drive him further down the fateful path he seems hell-bent on, a path that leads to burning at the stake?
The First Blast of the Trumpet is Marie Macpherson’s triumphant first novel in her Knox trilogy. A tale of romance and heartbreak, political intrigue and religion, First Blast is historical fiction at its best, woven from extensive research of factual events and figures.
The tale gives the revolutionary Scottish reformer, John Knox, a plausible backstory as he grows from a boy into a man of great convictions. First Blast is a glimpse into the politics and people who helped shape Knox’s life, giving the historical figures of sixteenth century Scotland a human face. Knox is central to the plot, but the story focuses on Elisabeth Hepburn, who, as so many women were in the era, was a pawn but even so remains a spirited and formidable woman.
Told from multiple perspectives, The First Blast of the Trumpet breathes rich, detailed life into a turbulent, tenuous period of history. Macpherson handles history with an expert hand, but never once is the read dry. Rather, it is a tale of wit, heart, and humor, an engaging, gripping read that sets the stage for the rest of the trilogy.
Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction, particularly fans of Scottish history, the Reformation, and John Knox