Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Heretic

The Heretic by Henry-Vyner Brooks is a vivid story of the Protestant Reformation in England under Henry VIII.  The story contains a vivid cast of characters, including a Benedictine monk, a leper, and the children of a couple arrested for heresy. While the story is slow to get started, it picks up in the middle and the last two hundred pages or so are quite intense.
Although I generally don’t read historical fiction, the Tudor period is one of my favorite eras, so I thought I’d give this novel a try.  It seemed fairly accurate, not only in terms of events and setting, but with worldviews. One of my pet peeves with historical fiction is when characters have fairly modern worldviews: a 15th-century girl complaining about arranged marriages, for example. Even if I disagree with the historical views, I want characters to be accurate.  It’s not wrong to have ‘progressive’ characters, but they shouldn’t be the norm. And the characters in this book were historically accurate in their perspectives.
The book was a little too long. It covered two or three years, possibly four—necessary for some of the plot points, but perhaps not the best decision for pacing.  It’s an improvement over books in which trials take weeks or months, but the first chapters were so heavy and full of setting the scene and putting all the threads in place that I didn’t feel interested in reading more.

Overall, though, it was a good book, and I will probably reread it at some point.