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Review: Matthew Reilly writes compelling historical novel

“The Tournament” (Gallery Books), by Matthew Reilly

Matthew Reilly, known for writing intense, over-the-top action thrillers, abandons his brand and delivers “The Tournament,” a historical novel set in 1546. In this story, the sultan of the Ottoman Empire has sent an invitation to the kings of Europe conveying the idea of a chess tournament to determine the world champion.

Each country is asked to send its finest player. England sends Gilbert Giles to be its representative. Along for the perilous journey are a young Elizabeth Tudor, heir to the British throne, and her teacher, Roger Ascham. They are followed on their journey by people with seemingly criminal thoughts in mind, and soon one of the party appears to be poisoned.

When they finally arrive in Constantinople, the treachery increases. Soon murder inside the sultan’s home puts everyone in danger, and the sultan asks Ascham to use his keen mind to uncover the culprit before more people die.

Fans of Reilly who are expecting explosions and constant adrenaline might scratch their heads while reading “The Tournament.” Readers who enjoy a compelling historical tale with real-life figures will enjoy the story, but it has a graphic sexual nature that might be off-putting to some.

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