Title: The Tournament
Author: Matthew Reilly
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
This is a fascinating ‘what if’ scenario with a future monarch being taken on a great adventure with her tutor to a chess tournament in Constantinople. I loved the portrayal of our third in line to the English throne Bess, later to be Queen Elizabeth I, being schooled by the infinitely wise Roger Ascham, through chess, travel, and meeting and mingling with the common folk.
The journey took place in 1546 and Bess was escorted by chaperones in Mr and Mrs Ponsonby who were on guard to protect her morals. She also asked her friend of many years, a vivacious and flirtatious Elsie, who explored the world in quite the way the Ponsobys’ disapproved of. Mr Giles was the best Chess player in England and he represented their country the Tournament. Roger Ascham continued to tutor Bess during the journey.
An unexpected twist of a horrendous murder in the foreign city, and Ascham being pressed into using his deductive intellect to solve the case by the King of the Ottaman Empire, an obligation young Bess found intriguing and followed closely. The political backdrop for the journey, and the world of their hosts, led to a plot as complicated as the game of chess and the way the tournament was conducted. The result of Ascham’s investigation would cause the unraveling of the event and power hold of the Empire.
I enjoyed the excerpts of chess rules and the map and pictures throughout to give the place and times substance. This book is such a departure from Matthew’s hero saves the world books, it was a refreshing change. I will continue to add all of his books to my reading list.