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The First Blast of the Trumpet

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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? In a daring attempt to shed light on a wheen of unanswered questions about John Knox's early, undocumented life, this novel throws up some startling claims and controversial conjectures. The First Blast of the Trumpet is book one of The Knox Trilogy.
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About the Author

Hailing from the historic Honest Toun of Musselburgh, six miles from Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, Marie Macpherson (nee Gilroy) developed a love for literature and languages from an early age. Brought up on the site of the Battle of Pinkie and within sight of Fa'side Castle, she was haunted by tales and legends from the past. The Ballads of the Scottish Borders stirred the romantic in her soul and the works of Sir Walter Scott kept her enthralled during the long, dark winter evenings (and more often nights, reading with a torch beneath the bedclothes). While she studied French and German at school, followed by Spanish and Italian at university, none of them enthused her so much as seeing the film, Dr. Zhivago, which sparked a desire to read the works of the Russian literary giants in the original. After gaining an Honours Degree in Russian and English, she spent a year in Moscow and Leningrad (St. Petersburg) researching her PhD on the work of the 19th century Russian writer, Mikhail Lermontov, said to be descended from Thomas the Rhymer of the ancient Scottish family of Learmont. Though she has travelled widely, teaching languages and literature across Europe from Madrid to Moscow, she has never lost her passion for the rich history and culture of her native Scotland. Now retired from the hurly-burly of academia, her life in the foothills of the Lammermuirs is hardly quiet. With all the various activities organised in her village, from reeling at Scottish Country Dancing to hill-walking, from book clubs to film shows, she has to make time to research and write. Having attempted various genres, she has found her niche in historical fiction which combines her academic's love of research with a passion for storytelling. Her inspiration not only comes from historical records and documents but from the landscape of the Scottish lowlands where she tries to conjure up what life was like for the inhabitants of those now ruined castles


"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. 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. 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' "In this novel, set in one of the most turbulent periods of Scottish (and English) history, much historical, ethnological and linguistic research is in evidence, which - importantly - Marie Macpherson delivers with a commendable lightness of touch. Descriptions of contemporary superstitions, medicinal cures, and religious practices are impressively handled and closely linked to an engrossing plot and finely drawn, convincing characterisation. The over-riding theme of the novel is Keep Tryst and all the central characters are confronted with the issue of fidelity of some kind, with its breaching or betrayal resulting in an acute sense of loss and/or guilt. The novel well documents the corruption among church officialdom and the blatant misogyny of many of those in positions of power, yet the author handles these issues sensitively.I enjoyed this book enormously and would be more than happy to read it a second time. I'm sure such an accomplished debut novel will enjoy considerable success." ---Charles Jones FRSE, Emeritus Forbes Professor of English Language, University of Edinburgh "With style and verve Marie Macpherson whirls us into the world of sixteenth-century Scotland: its sights and smells, sexual attraction, childbirth and death, and of course the ever looming threat of religious strife. Few are the known facts of John Knox's first thirty and more years, but this vivid creation of a fictional life for him not only entertains but raises many questions in the reader's mind about the character and motives of a dominating figure in Scottish history." --- Dr Rosalind Marshall, Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, research associate of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, to which she has contributed more than fifty articles, and author of biographies of Mary, Queen of Scots, Mary of Guise, John Knox, Elizabeth I and Bonnie Prince Charlie.

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