The Star-Chamber, Volumes I & II: An Historical Romance

The Star-Chamber, Volumes I & II: An Historical Romance - William Harrison Ainsworth [These notes were made in 1986:]. A good Gothic thriller. Sir Giles Mompesson is the scowling and all-powerful villain who scatters destruction and suffering by means of the Star Chamber court, just for the hell of it, it seems. Eventually, of course, he gets his, through the same means. Our young hero (whose father was done to death by the same Sir GM) is the unpronounceable Jocelyn Mounchensey. There is a band of lusty 'prentices, led by Dick Taverner, who quickly becomes Jocelyn's sidekick. They both fall in love - Dick with a May Queen, and J.M. with a Puritan's daughter, Aveline. James I, with all his superstitions, makes an entrance into the story, and the love intrigue (adulterous) of two members of his court forms a sub-plot which crosses that of J.M. and Adeline. (There is much poisoning and counter-poisoning involved here). J.M. (who turns out to be Sir J.M.) gets all dressed up in a tournament and inevitably takes on and defeats Sir G.M. (other contestants include Prince Charles); but Sir G.M. has him arrested with a view to bringing him before - guess what -the Star Chamber. King James himself finally intervenes to right all wrongs, and Osmond Mounchensey, J's uncle, returns from obscurity - or rather, reveals himself as the mutilated and secretly working servant who has been haunting Sir G.M. all along. Finally, in a dim and Gothic alley fight, Osmond and Sir G.M. finish each other off.