The Tournament by Matthew Reilly
The Sultan of the Ottoman Empire sends an invitation across the world to invite chess champions to Constantinople in 1534 to complete in the first world-wide chess tournament. The invitation to Great Britain is answered by a good friend of Roger Ascham, who happens to be the tutor of young Princess Elizabeth Tudor. Ascham suggests Elizabeth come along on the journey to learn about the world and see life in all its variety firsthand. A motley party of chaperones and friends accompany young Elizabeth on her travels. Constantinople is a city of wonders and delights, but also debauchery, treachery and murder. Ascham is approached by the Sultan to solve the murder of a visiting cardinal and the intrigue that surrounds him and his pupil will require all his wits and reason to solve.
Fans of Reilly’s fast paced thrillers may not enjoy this book as much as historical mystery fans. The pace is slower than some mysteries; travel was difficult and long and chess is not exactly played at breakneck speed. There are a lot of descriptions about the goings on in the harem, the harsh realities of poverty and the power of the rich and powerful. The mystery and palace intrigue is multi-layered and murder upon murder makes puzzling out who did what extremely challenging. I thought it was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed it on audio.