Review of ‘The First Blast of the Trumpet’

‘Historical novels which spin a good yarn and keep to the known historical facts are a pleasing way of learning history. Marie Macpherson’s well-researched novel captures the period which led up to the Reformation in Scotland, in which decay and despotism led eventually to a new regime.  

She leaves the reader much better informed about the rivalries between the Scots nobility, and the way in which they used the late medieval church as a power base to consolidate their hold on power. In addition, she skilfully escapes the constraints of the known facts to give her readers an intriguing fictional tale of the early life of John Knox, about which little is known other than that he was a notary and Catholic priest.

The violence and brutality of life in sixteenth century Scotland is well captured, along with the struggles among the vying dynasties to supplant a weak monarchy. The author excels in her ability to weave Scots words and expressions into the text, enriching it immeasurably. This vivid vocabulary is applied also to the scenes of carnal activity, underlining the brutality of the period. Her romances are earthy rather than ethereal, her nobles far short of heroic and the result is a book which portrays the main players in Scotland’s Reformation as flawed human beings rather than the goodies and baddies which partisan history has often made them.’

 

Rev Stewart Lamont

Author of The Swordbearer:

John Knox and the European Reformation

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