The Tournament by Matthew Reilly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Matthew Reilly does Something Completely Different in this book - it's lighter on his signature full-tilt high-octane action, and heavier on historical drama. It's also heavier on court intrigues in 16th-century Europe, particularly in its lush Constantinople setting. And, most unusually of all, it's heavier on sex. In fact, Reilly puts a disclaimer at the start of the book, warning that the book contains mature content - all of which is either viewed through the eyes of a teenage Elizabeth I as the narrator (for some reason, I pictured Maisie Williams in her role the whole time) or through the accounts of her friend Elsie, who doesn't speak in dialogue so much as she speaks in erotic prose.
The best part of the book, however, is the way Bessie and her teacher, Roger Ascham, get caught up in a string of increasingly bizarre, and often downright disturbing, murders, to the point where the titular tournament actually ends up becoming an afterthought from time to time. They use what can only be described as vintage forensic techniques to investigate - and, naturally, they get accused of sorcery at one point.
This was a nice little diversion from Reilly's usual fare, but all the same, I'm still dying for another Shane Schofield or Jack West Jr. book.
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