When you make a conscious choice to be happy, no one can take it away from you because no one gave it to you: you gave it to yourself.

A quote from April Green's - Bloom For Yourself Journal

Monday, 2 November 2020

Welcoming Marie Macpherson and her book - The Last Blast of the Trumpet (Book 3 of the Knox Trilogy) - to my blog

Today I'm welcoming Marie Macpherson and her book - The Last Blast of the Trumpet (Book Three of the Knox Trilogy) - to my blog as part of the blog tour hosted by The Coffee Pot Book Club (founded by Mary Anne Yarde). 

 I'm delighted to be able to share an excerpt with you all, but first I will introduce the book.

 The Last Blast of the Trumpet by Marie MacPherson

 Conflict, Chaos and Corruption in Reformation Scotland.

He wants to reform Scotland, but his enemies will stop at nothing to prevent him.

Scotland 1559: Fiery reformer John Knox returns to a Scotland on the brink of civil war. Victorious, he feels confident of his place leading the reform until the charismatic young widow, Mary Queen of Scots returns to claim her throne. She challenges his position and initiates a ferocious battle of wills as they strive to win the hearts and minds of the Scots. But the treachery and jealousy that surrounds them both as they make critical choices in their public and private lives has dangerous consequences that neither of them can imagine.

In this final instalment of the trilogy of the fiery reformer John Knox, Macpherson tells the story of a man and a queen at one of the most critical phases of Scottish history.

Publication Date: 24 August 2020

Publisher: Penmore Press

Series: The Knox Trilogy

Print Length: 409 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction / Biographical Fiction

You can purchase a copy from the following places -

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:

Barnes and Noble:

 Praise for Marie MacPherson and The Last Blast of the Trumpet -

"Macpherson has done for Knox what Hilary Mantel did for Cromwell.’

Scottish Field

‘This richly realized portrait of a complex man in extraordinary times is historical fiction at its finest.’

Linda Porter, author of Crown of Thistles; Katherine the Queen, Royal Renegades; Mistresses: Sex and Scandal at the Court of Charles II

‘Marie Macpherson has once again given us a cavalcade of flesh and blood characters living the early days of the Scottish Reformation in a complex tale told with economy and wit.’

S.G. MacLean, author of The Seeker Series and Alexander Seaton mysteries

Now for the excerpt -

Part 2: Chapter Six

Hail Mary!

Edinburgh, 19 August 1561

The mist swirling in from the North Sea banished the summer sunshine and smothered the city in a smoky grey pall. The morning was so dark that candles had to be lit and the damp cold filled the room with the chill of the grave. The worst haar Knox had ever seen was a bad omen. He shivered and straightened a blanket round his shoulders. Any day now Queen Mary would land on his shores and smite his tender young kirk. The reformed faith may have triumphed but it needed the Book of Discipline for Protestant principles and rites to filter down to the common folk, many of whom were still papists. This was no idle threat. Mary believed him to be the most dangerous man in all her realm, so Randolph had told him, and had vowed to banish him as soon as she set foot in Scotland. Let her try: Lord James would take his part. He’d made a solemn promise to forbid his sister to practise her idolatrous faith in any shape or form, especially the abominable mass. He would keep tryst, Knox thought, as the Hepburn motto popped into his mind.

The boom of cannons firing from the castle startled him. He threw down his quill and hurried to the window. Spectral shapes were emerging from the closes and wynds and disappearing down the High Street in the witch’s brew of sour, yellowish fog.

The door was flung open and Jamie bawled, ‘Queen Mary has come! She’s biding at the Lamb’s house in Leith.’

Knox stiffened. Jamie’s words filled him with foreboding. The dreaded day had arrived.

‘Favourable winds carried her ships more swiftly than expected,’ Jamie went on, ‘and they slunk in to harbour under cover of the haar at dawn. She’ll be coming up to Holyrood this afternoon. Folk are already gathering in their droves for the procession.’

Stepping out into the sunless, dripping wet street, Knox and Jamie scarcely could see the length of two pairs of boots. Clammy fingers of smirr tickled Knox’s beard and neck. He pulled his bonnet over his ears and drew his muffler up to his eyes, covering his nose and beard to stifle the stink of rotting fish mingling with smoke. As a gust of knifing wind frayed the edge of the fog, Knox caught a glimpse of the parade coming up the brae from Leith. To his surprise, this was no dazzling cavalcade with thoroughbred mounts and jewelled harnesses: it was almost puritan in its simplicity.

‘The English fleet rammed the royal ships,’ Jamie explained. ‘Mary’s galley was saved but her horses were lost so they had to cobble together some scruffy palfreys and ponies.’

A huge roar went up from the crowd as the queen approached, escorted by her half-brothers Robert and John with Lord James at their head.

Knox drew his black brows together. Even though she was mounted on a pitiful palfrey much too small for her and dressed in her deuil blanc, the black and white of mourning, the eighteen-year-old queen managed to retain a regal presence, much to his dismay.

‘The queen has a kind soul,’ he overheard a fishwife say.

‘Aye, she has that,’ her companion replied. ‘I heard she was moved to tears seeing the galley slaves chained to their oars and ordered the slave-master not to lash them with the whip.’

Once again Knox winced. Knowing her every word, every move would be reported, had the wily queen intended the act of kindness as a jibe at him, a former galley slave? Witnessing the folk’s jubilation pierced him to the very core. In an instant her beauty, youth and feminine charm had enchanted her people and if the lords couldn’t curb her power, he had everything to fear from her.

That evening, bonfires lit up the sky from one end of the city to the other and the streets filled with the people dancing and playing music. Knox turned away from the window. ‘Music! I’ll give them music and make them dance to my tune,’ he grunted and sent Jamie to muster as many of his most trusted brethren as he could to the manse. ‘Tonight we shall serenade the queen at Holyrood,’ he told them.

His supporters looked perplexed. ‘Why would we do that, master? We dinnae want her to feel welcome.’

‘Never fash,’ Knox said. ‘In France, the Huguenots demonstrate their defiance by chanting psalms on the streets. Let’s show our dissent by singing battle hymns of the Lord.’

Beneath the queen’s window, the chorus caterwauled psalms to the tune of badly played fiddles and rebecks. If the scraping and howling grated on his lugs, then the queen’s delicate ears must be seriously offended, Knox hoped. The window was flung open and a head poked out, no doubt a lackey sent to bawl them out, Knox thought, and braced himself to defend their sacred Protestant music.

‘Her Majesty praises your musical offering,’ a solemn-faced Lord James said, ‘and finds it perfectly agreeable. Nevertheless, weary after her long journey, she beseeches you to return another night.’

‘Well, that’s put a cork in our whistles,’ Jamie chuckled. ‘Snide bastard. We’ll no be back.’

For a moment, Lord James’s appearance rattled Knox. Had he already fallen under his sister’s spell? Leading the brethren away he muttered, ‘Our singing voices may be agreeable to Mary, but I wager the sound of my voice ringing from the pulpit on Sunday will not be so pleasing.’

Marie MacPherson 

Scottish writer Marie Macpherson grew up in Musselburgh on the site of the Battle of Pinkie and within sight of Fa’side Castle where tales and legends haunted her imagination. She left the Honest Toun to study Russian at Strathclyde University and spent a year in the former Soviet Union to research her PhD thesis on the 19th century Russian writer Mikhail Lermontov, said to be descended from the Scottish poet and seer, Thomas the Rhymer. Though travelled widely, teaching languages and literature from Madrid to Moscow, she has never lost her enthusiasm for the rich history and culture of her native Scotland.

Writing historical fiction combines her academic’s love of research with a passion for storytelling. Exploring the personal relationships and often hidden motivations of historical characters drives her curiosity. 

The Knox Trilogy is a fictional biography of the fiery reformer, John Knox, set during the 16th century Scottish Reformation. Prizes and awards include the Martha Hamilton Prize for Creative Writing from Edinburgh University and Writer of the Year 2011 awarded by Tyne & Esk Writers. She is a member of the Historical Writers’ Association (HWA), the Historical Novel Society (HNS) and the Society of Authors (SoA).

You can connect with Marie MacPherson on the following platforms -






You can learn more about the author and the book by visiting the other blogs taking part in the tour. Details -

 I do hope that you will check out Marie MacPherson's work.

Till the next time.

Take care Zoe



Mary Anne Yarde said...

Such a fabulous excerpt.

Thank you so much, Zoe, for hosting today's tour stop for The Last Blast Of The Trumpet!

Unknown said...

Great choice of excerpt to share! Really brings alive the arrival of Mary, Queen of Scots into Leith harbour and then on to Holyrood Palace [which the current Queen Elizabeth still uses to this day] in Edinburgh, as well as showing how neatly Mary is going to manage the wily Knox!