1559. Freed after a stint in the galleys, the Scottish Reformer John Knox is fired up with his mission as God’s messenger to strike at the roots of papistry. Prophet without honor in his own land, he is welcomed as chaplain to Edward VI in England. But by challenging the liturgy of the English Protestant Church, he makes dangerous enemies. With Edward’s untimely death and the accession of the Catholic Mary Tudor, Knox is forced to flee her fires of persecution. Despite the ever-present peril of capture, the fiery Scot criss-crosses Europe to ask the leading Reformation scholars his burning question – whether it is lawful to depose an ungodly monarch. While no answer is forthcoming, his plea has not gone unheeded. Someone is willing to commit regicide in his name. When the Protestant Elizabeth I succeeds the throne, Knox hopes to return with his young wife and family and resume his mission in England. However, while the charismatic preacher may have attracted a flock of female admirers, his polemical tract, The First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women, has antagonized Queen Elizabeth. But will Knox be welcome in Scotland where the Lords of the Congregation are plotting revolution in the name of religion? Where his godmother, Elisabeth Hepburn, and the queen regent, Marie de Guise, are striving to stem the rising tide of reform and keep the throne for Mary Queen of Scots? Will the secret assassin achieve his aim?
Marie Macpherson’s second installment in her Knox trilogy, The Second Blast of the Trumpet, picks up in 1549 as John Knox is released from galley slavery. Macpherson again brings the mid-sixteenth century to vivid life with what was undoubtedly an incredible amount of intensive, thorough research. The events that helped shape Scotland into the nation it is today play out rousingly on the pages of this vibrant story.
The strength of the story lies in its intriguing characters. Elisabeth Hepburn’s tale is still intertwined in the narrative, but in this book, Knox comes to the forefront. Macpherson gives the reader more than just the misogynistic, blustering radical the reader knows from the history books; instead, the reader is given a fleshed out and complex character. Knox is a relatable character: a husband, a father, and above all a flawed but fascinating and driven man.
Macpherson has done an impeccable job of taking the reader across Northern Europe in the 1550s as the religious and political upheaval continues to grow. The read is remarkably entertaining, entirely owed to the author’s compelling writing style. The Second Blast of the Trumpet is a gripping, memorable read and sets the stage for the final installment in the series.
Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction, particularly fans of Scottish history, the Reformation, and John Knox; recommended this series is read in order