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This is a story set in the reigns of the children of Henry VIII: his short-lived son Edward and his Roman Catholic daughter Mary (Bloody Mary). It tells of the transfer of power; of magic and black magic; of the persecution of Jews, Catholics, and Protestants; of adulterous love; of sibling rivalry; and treason.The story is a struggle between the two sisters, Mary and Elizabeth for the throne of England and for the hearts of English people. It is seen through the eyes of the Queen's Fool--a young woman named Hannah, herself a refugee from the Spanish Inquisition--who serves first Robert Dudley, then Mary and then Elizabeth as a "holy fool," a young person kept about court to observe,comment, and spy. Hannah has been promised in marriage to a young man who wants her to leave court, but Hannah finds it almost impossible to disentangle herself from the passions and deadly power plays of the court.