Sunday, November 2, 2008

Three: The Queen's Lady - Barbara Kyle

One night in May, Honor Larke watches as her father dies and her arch-nemesis, a priest named Bastwick, deals for her dowry in order to advance himself. A month later, Honor and her best friend Ralph escape from Sir Guy Tyrell's care and head to London. Honor is made a ward of Sir Thomas More and ends up serving as a lady-in-waiting for Queen Catherine. Six years after they had been separated, Honor watches in horror as her best friend Ralph is burned at the stake for transporting bibles in English.

Honor is determined to avenge Ralph's death - which she assumes was ordered by Bastwick - who now is working for the Bishop of London. Overhearing a boatman's conversation, she warns a group of Brethren about an attack by the Bishop's men. Here begins Honor's quest to save the innocent from religious persecution. As she continues to "investigate" Ralph's death, Honor realizes that Sir Thomas More actually was the person who ordered him to be burned.

Honor approaches Thomas Cromwell with a proposition in order to help him serve King Henry directly and influence a new religion in England. Honor travels to Spain for Queen Catherine and ends up turning over the Pope's proclamation to one of Cromwell's men - Richard Thornleigh. Honor and Richard met before in the gardens of Cardinal Wosley. He overheard her giving a secret letter to the Spanish ambassador from Catherine to the Emperor.

Honor again overhears plans to capture a Brethren priest named Frish at Sir Thomas More's house. She promises to safely get Frish abroad and asks Richard Thornleigh to help her. Richard owns multiple ships for his wool exporting business. The first "rescue" goes successfully and suddenly Honor and Richard have a new partnership in smuggling folks who are being persecuted.

The Queen's Lady follows the adventures of Honor and Richard as they both search for answers to their past heartbreaks while influencing the religious views of a country in political turmoil.

Kyle, Barbara. The Queen's Lady. Kensington Publishing (2008). 525 pages. ISBN 075822544X
At first I was hesitant about reading another book on the Tudor family - especially one that covers the same period I'm familiar with. I will admit that when the author chose to focus on Henry and Anne - I skimmed and moved on. While I feel their history is important background for this book - really the religious turmoil is the more predominant historical character. It was an interesting perspective to focus on the historical accounts from Sir Thomas More and Thomas Cromwell's view. While I knew that Henry's persistence in attaining a divorce from Catherine caused England to redefine it's religious beliefs, I didn't realize how much a person's religious views could impact their daily living back then. It's amazing how in present times - there isn't more religious unrest like their was back then.

Barbara's writing is very witty and quick to read. This book was read mostly multi-tasking while watching the last couple of World Series games (Go Phillies!). Many times I had a hard time putting the book down - because I was so curious about what was going to happen next.

I do feel that the time that Honor spent in abroad outside of England didn't fit with the rest of the story. Barbara had Honor ending up back in Germany with her philosopher friend and returning back to England to confront Sir Thomas More right before he was executed. Suddenly Richard was alive (surprising) and somehow caught up to Honor in London to save her from being burned. While all the loose ends were wrapped up by the end of the book - the last 100 pages just didn't flow with the other 400.

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