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Being the first journal of Sir Roger Shallot concerning certain wicked conspiracies and horrible murders perpetrated in the reign of King Henry VIII Sir Roger Shallot, a born rogue, a bon viveur with the sharpest wits and fastest legs in Christendom, is a man with a keen dedication to the preservation of his own skin. Now well past his ninetieth summer, Shallot lies in his great four-poster bed, warmed by the laundress, Fat Margot, drinking claret and remembering the exploits of his life. As a young man Shallot is first drawn into the web of mystery and murder by his close friendship with Benjamin Daunbey, the innocent and naive nephew of Cardinal Wolsey, first minister of Henry VIII. In 1517 the English armies have defeated and killed James IV of Scotland at Flodden and James's widow-queen, Margaret, sister to Henry VIII, has fled to England, leaving her crown under a Council of Regency. Benjamin and Roger are ordered into her household to resolve certain mysteries as well as to bring about Margaret's restoration to Scotland. They meet murder and bloody intrigue on every side. They begin by questioning Selkirk, a half-mad physician imprisoned in the Tower. He is subseqently found poisoned in a locked chamber guarded by soldiers. The only clue is a poem of riddles. However, the poem contains the seeds for other gruesome murders: at a haunted manor house in the Midlands; in one of the strangest convents in England; in the reeking alleyways of Leicester and in the dark chambers of the Tower of London. The assassin is hidden but always leaves a white rose, the mark of Les Blancs Sangliers, a secret society plotting the overthrow of the Tudor monarchy.... Shallot is a born storyteller and the most outrageous name'dropper, claiming to be on personal acquaintance with all the good and the bad of the sixteenth century. He is a true rogue, a perfect foil to the innocent but mysterious Benjamin Daunbey, and his memoirs are a racy evocation of a brawling, lusty yet blood-drenched period of English history.
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