mr tournamentFrom the New York Times bestselling author of Temple and The Great Zoo of China comes a gripping historical thriller featuring a young Queen Elizabeth I thrust into a web of treachery, power, and lust at the height of the Ottoman Empire.

The year is 1546, and Suleiman the Magnificent, the powerful and feared Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, issues an invitation to every king in Europe: You are invited to send your finest player to compete in a chess tournament to determine the champion of the known world.

Thousands converge on Constantinople, including the English court’s champion and his guide, the esteemed scholar Roger Ascham. Seeing a chance to enlighten the mind of a student, Ascham brings along Elizabeth Tudor, a brilliant young woman not yet thrust into royal duties.

Yet on the opening night of the tournament a powerful guest of the Sultan is murdered. Soon, barbaric deaths, diplomatic treachery, and unimaginable depravity—sexual and otherwise—unfold before Elizabeth and Ascham’s eyes. The pair soon realizes that the real chess game is being played within the court itself…and its most treacherous element is that a stranger in a strange land is only as safe as her host is gracious.

Having never read any of Matthew’s previous books except his novella – Roger Ascham and the King’s Lost Girl.

I was pleased to know he had brought Roger Ascham back, and included his young pupil Bess (Princess Elizabeth, the future Queen of England).  It reminded me of the much loved Cadfael books by Ellis Peters, with Sherlock Holmes logic and perception frown into the mix (but having read about Roger Ascham, he preceded Holmes by a couple of centuries and was real!).

I wasn’t disappointed!  Matthew is a First rate storyteller, and I can’t wait for the next instalment!

5*****stars from me!

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