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Jacket illustration by Val Biro


©Nigel Tranter
Published by Hodder and Stoughton, 1965,
The action of this book is set Circa 1594 to Circa 1603

The text of this synopsis is taken from the bookjacket.

The Master of Gray was undoubtedly a rogue, although a most charming one, and the handsomest man in Europe. But the brilliance and scale of his roguery lifted him into the class of Machiavelli and the Borgias. Perhaps Scotland needed just such an unscrupulous hand at the wheel, at the end of the 16th century, when that most extraordinary figure ever to occupy a throne, King James the Sixth, waited impatiently to become James the First of England also, amidst a welter of intrigue, violence, bribery and treason - waited for the ageing Queen Elizabeth to die.

The Master was determined that the awkward royal buffoon should succeed the brilliant virgin queen, whatever the odds against it. Anything and everything was sacrificed to this end - including Ludovick, Duke of Lennox and his love for Mary Gray, the Master's unacknowledged daughter. Ludovick, the King's cousin, was a single-minded and honest young man, and he and the lovely Mary sought to match themselves against the scheming treacheries of her father.

Their battle raged from rude border strongholds to lavish royal courts, from the woodland glades of Falkland to Elizabeth's Richmond, from war-torn Aberdeen to the Pope's Vatican - two young people caught up in a savage game of power-politics and religious bigotry seldom matched. This long and entralling novel makes a worthy succesor to the Master of Gay and The Courtesan.