The Last Blast of the Trumpet

The Third Book in the Knox Trilogy

Fiction - Historical - Personage
496 Pages
Reviewed on 01/26/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite

The Last Blast of the Trumpet: The Third Book in the Knox Trilogy by Marie Macpherson is a tale of skullduggery and political shenanigans that was the Scottish court in the mid-sixteenth century. John Knox, the great protestant reformer, has returned to Scotland to turn the Scots away from their heretical papist views and to the only true Christian faith, that of the Protestants. Unfortunately, his arrival has coincided with the ascension to the Scottish throne of the young and beautiful Mary, Queen of Scots, a dyed-in-the-wool Catholic. The Last Blast of the Trumpet is the final book in this series based on the life and works of John Knox. What follows is intrigue and double-dealing amongst the Scottish lords, as they play one off against the other, all in their own quest for more wealth and more power. The queen will need all her wits about her to thwart the reformatory spirit that is sweeping through the country but fortunately, she has some staunch allies in James Hepburn, the 4th Earl of Bothwell, and Isabelle Hepburn, the goddaughter of the Prioress of St Mary’s Abbey, who will do whatever it takes to ensure the queen’s safety and her continued reign.

The Last Blast of the Trumpet was a riveting and enthralling read. Author Marie Macpherson has taken these well-known, real-life characters from the annals of Scottish history and has created believable, relatable personas that readers can identify with and rally behind. Her writing is often in the vernacular of the time and that gives this historical novel a realism that might otherwise be missing. She manages to present the stark contrasts of the era – the pomp, ceremony, and pageantry of the elite compared to the grinding poverty and perilous existence of the general Scottish population. What I particularly enjoyed about this story was the intelligence, cunning, and bravery that the author infused into her female characters, especially Isabelle who for me was the real star of the story. The two things that stood out the most were the ravages of disease that could strike anyone regardless of their station or situation in life. Life was indeed perilous in those times and for John Knox to have achieved the ripe old age of around sixty was actually an aberration. Most people, rich or poor, were lucky if they made it past their forties, such was the pernicious nature of disease and violence in those times. The second point that seemed ironic in many ways was that in this incredibly paternalistic society where women were often treated as chattels, England and Scotland, for a time, were both ruled by women. I haven’t read the first two books in this trilogy but if this final effort is anything to go by, this is a series well worth the effort. I can highly recommend this read.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Throughout history, politics and religion have been at odds with each other and the source of much of the unrest, conflict, and wars humanity has witnessed. Many have followed with fascination the history of the ill-fated romantic figure of Mary Queen of Scots. Her verbal spars with the Protestant reform leader, John Knox, often paint the queen as the victim with Knox as the fiery, outspoken reformist. Multiple stories have been written about Queen Mary, but little has been written placing Knox as the protagonist, the one truly caring for his flock, the people of Scotland. Returning to his homeland about the same time as Queen Mary returns to claim her throne, Knox’s words and actions are both profound and confrontational as he stands by his belief in leading the Scottish people away from what he believes to be the evil, corrupt chaos of the Church of Rome.

Marie Macpherson’s historical novel, The Last Blast of the Trumpet, is the third book and final installment of the Knox Trilogy. The plot follows both Knox and Queen Mary as the two stand up to one another, firm in their religious beliefs and convictions. History is not kind to either as the author unravels the plot from both points of view. Both characters demand attention, either through admiration or loathing, but both characters are also a vital element in the evolution of Reformation Scotland. Like Sharon Kay Penman and many others, this author has the ability to bring the history, the people, the places, and the events to life with accuracy and precise attention to detail, allowing the reader to become immersed in the story, to feel engaged at the same time as being educated. A thorough and fascinating look at Scotland’s sixteenth-century history.

Rabia Tanveer

The Last Blast of the Trumpet is the third book in the Knox Trilogy by Marie Macpherson. Set in 1559, the most tumultuous time in Scotland, the story of John Knox continues as he returns to Scotland to take charge of the Protestant Reformation. John is sure he will be successful but wasn’t considering one factor: Mary Queen of Scots. Mary is back, and she wants her throne. The only person in her way is John, and she is ready to do whatever it takes to claim her throne. So, John and Mary battle it out; both do their best to seduce the public and make sure they have the upper hand. But neither of them is free to do whatever they desire. Both John and Mary have people in their circles who want them to lose. However, before they know it, John and Mary have to work very carefully or they will pay with their lives. Who will win this battle of wills?

I remember reading about the upheaval in the 1550s when the Protestant Reformation was at its peak in Scotland and how it impacted the literature of that time. I love how Marie Macpherson seamlessly tells the tale of a bloody, chaotic, and uncertain time in Scottish history. John Knox’s personality is larger than life, but the author shares his impatience, and that works in favor of character development. What I really love about this story is how human both Mary and John are. We read about them as two titans, battling it out and neither giving up until blood was shed. However, the smooth narrative makes them human and relatable. As for the story, yes, it follows a religious theme, but it does not overpower the journey of John Knox and the troubles he faces at the hands of Mary and countless others. The author does justice to the political upheaval of the era and gives a glimpse of the life of people. The pace is perfect, the story is intriguing, and the character development is sharp! The Last Blast of the Trumpet is a work of art!