The Heretic

       'Magnificent... a work of importance.. could become a cult book of its kind.' 

 Penelope Wilcock, author of The Hawk and Dove series

'...A Piece of Passion...Henry completely engages the reader in the turbulence surrounding the end of the Middle Ages, and the dreams and agonies attendant upon the birth of the Renaissance. Brother Pacificus is particularly finely drawn, as are the three youngsters. The horrors of religious bigotry, and the manipulation of religion for political ends, are starkly depicted; but there is also a redemptive strand within the book which is neither trite nor comfortable. You have the sense that the author utterly lives his creation: a true labour of love.' –  Tony Collins, Publisher, Lion Fiction.

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SYNOPSIS                                          

Title: The Heretic 

Length: 189,300 words

Genre: A historic novel in the style of Mantel's 'Wolf Hall', and C. J. Samson's 'Dissolution', with flavours of Marryat's 'Children of the New Forest.'

Setting & Characters: Few know what is truely in them until their whole world is being torn apart.

From the crypts and cloisters of Saint Benets abbey on the Norfolk Broads, to the dark streets of Norwich, London and Antwerp, the novel follows the trials, fortunes and friendships of a Benedictine monk, his leperous brother, three destitute Anabaptist children and their imprisoned mother, an aged Dutch eel catcher and his blind sister, an ambitious abbot, a wayward novice, and a teenage whore. (Also appearances by King Henry, Thomas Cromwell, Archbishop Cramner, the Dukes of Norfolk, Suffolk, Northumberland, Ambassador Chapuys and Catherine Howard)

Set at the great hinge of modern history, during the destruction of the medieval world order (1536-1540), and based on historical events and real people; this post-medieval epic is not only laced with murder, mystery, revenge, greed, jousting, feasting, treasure seeking, smuggling, rebellions, jailbreaks, but also has the more serious subtext of freedom of conscience amidst uncompromising culture wars. 

The central character is Brother Pacificus, formerly the famed hospitalier knight Sir Hugh Erpingham, but now a reluctant Benedictine, whose faith in the goodness and providence of God has been in dissolution since the fall of Rhodes and the exile of his old order sixteen years previously. God did not help them against the infidel, and now he will not aid the church triumphant against the Antichrist – what is a good man to do?

Pacificus' machiavellian abbot sets him to painting the rood screen at a nearby church, but when his identity is compromised, the northern nobles ask Pacificus once more to be a soldier of the cross in the great uprising called the Pilgrimage of Grace. Could God have brought him back to the kingdom for such a time as this? Will this redeem his own life's shattered meaning and narrative? Could leading a civil war really rescue the great monastic houses which stand between the starving poor and the tyranny of the state?

Saint Benets is the only monastery in England to be saved from dissolution, but even so, its no final haven of religious peace, being itself mired in murder, malice and malignity. And when Pacificus is implicated, it is more than his own skeletons that come to light – and soon the body count is rising.

In amongst this, his fate becomes entwined with that of three children, whose parents are arrested for treason and heresy. Left with no protection, except this errant monk, a mysterious leper, a Dutch eel-catcher and his sister; Elizabeth, Richard and Piers must learn to adjust to their new, harsh lives on the marsh, deciding whether or not to adhere to their parent's outlawed religion, and a seemingly silent God. When their eventual identities are made known – which is as much a shock to them as anyone – they must also learn to navigate through the complexities of Tudor court life, save their mother, and gamble their inheritance - and lives.

In a narrative that spans the four pivotal years of the dissolutions, these unlikely pilgrims are bound together for good or ill, coming of age through their trials, triumphs and tragedies by small acts of faithfulness and sacrifrice – clinging to their faith and to each other.