In 1522 the rogue Roger Shallot and his sober-sided master Benjamin Daunbey are sent for by Cardinal Wolsey. Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, has been arrested for treason and Benjamin and Roger are made to witness his bloody execution. The true reason for Buckingham's downfall soon becomes apparent: he was searching at Templecombe Manor and Glastonbury Abbey in Somerset for two precious relics -- the Holy Grail and Excalibur, the sword of King Arthur. Benjamin and Shallot are ordered to Templecombe, accompanied by the leaders of King Henry VIII's dreaded secret service, the Agentes in Rebus, to find these relics for the King. They must pit their wits against the Templars, a secret organisation plotting against the Tudors of which Buckingham may have been a part and who may still have a member of their society close to the crown. The difficulties that wily Shallot -- running true to his boast of possessing the fastest legs and quickest wits in Christendom -- has to face soon make their presence felt: a duel, blackmail, the curses of a witch, the grisly hand of glory, decapitated heads, mysterious fires -- and silent murder in the eerie Templar chapel.
This novel was previously published under the pseudonym Michael Clynes.
Paul Doherty was born in Middlesbrough. He studied History at Liverpool and Oxford Universities and obtained a doctorate for his thesis on Edward II and Queen Isabella. He is now headmaster of a school in north-east London and lives with his family in Essex.