July 28, 2017

Custom of the County by N.F. St Aubyn

Custom of the CountyThis is the first of a trilogy about Henry VIII’s Cornish friends. I’ve a feeling (not having read the others!) that it’s quite a scene setter. We learn about all the key players, and events that will bind them together – including how they come to be involved closely with the king.

But do not think that that means it’s not a good book. There is adultery, murder, attempted murder, scientific discovery – even plots to overthrow the king!

It’s split into 3 sections. “Mount’s Bay” – is a edge of the seat tale of intrigue and cunning. In this section the Santo Antonio, a ship full of treasure is shipwrecked in Mounts Bay, and there is a lot of intrigue as to who gets the treasure.

Then we move on to “Reasons of State” where the intrigue of the ownership of the treasure is played out – including the Portuguese Court, the Spanish Court, the Flemish Court, and (unsurprisingly) the English Court! A really interesting section of the book with some horrific descriptions of torture.

Finally we get to “The Star Chamber” and the court case is getting ever closer. (can’t say too much about this section – but suffice to say lots of intrigue and quite a bit of cunning).

Alongside the main plot we learn a lot about Cornish customs in the Tudor period, and I think the divisions between the Cornish and the English are well explained. And we have the romance of the family lives of the Seyntaubins. (Yes the ancestors of the author).

The story is based on historical truths and historical mystery! In fact to this day no one knows where the treasure of the Santo Antonio ended up…

Have to say I’m looking forward to the next installments.

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