Saturday, August 6, 2011
England, 1176. Beautiful, tranquil Glastonbury Abbey— one of England’s holiest sites, and believed by some to be King Arthur’s sacred Isle of Avalon—has been burned almost to the ground. The arsonist remains at large, but the fire has uncovered something even more shocking: two hidden skeletons, a man and a woman. The skeletons’ height and age send rumors flying—are the remains those of Arthur and Guinevere?
King Henry II hopes so. Struggling to put down a rebellion in Wales, where the legend of Celtic savior Arthur is particularly strong, Henry wants definitive proof that the bones are Arthur’s. If the rebels are sure that the Once and Future King will not be coming to their aid, Henry can stamp out the insurgence for good. He calls on Adelia Aguilar, Mistress of the Art of Death, to examine the bones.
Henry’s summons comes not a moment too soon, for Adelia has worn out her welcome in Cambridge. As word of her healing powers has spread, so have rumors of witchcraft. So Adelia and her household ride to Glastonbury, where the investigation into the abbey fire will be overseen by the Church authorities—in this case, the Bishop of St. Albans, who happens also to be the father of Adelia’s daughter.
Another interesting foray into the middle ages with forensic expert, Adelia Aguilar. Adelia, with her precocious daughter, Allie, and the ever faithful Gyltha and dear friend, Mansur leave their home in Cambridge with Emma, Lady Wolvercote, the young widow who is now a wealthy woman after the demise of her dastardly husband (from the last book) whom she was forced to marry. While en route with Lady Emma's entourage, Adelia is called away by King Henry II to investigate old bones found in Glastonbury rumored to be the bones of legendary King Arthur and his wife, Guinevere. Of course, all is not as it seems. The usual macabre medieval doings involve the disappearance of Lady Emma, her young son and an injured German knight. There are loads of twists and turns with some really creepy characters - villains in the wood, in particular.
I found the plot itself a bit hard to follow, there were several. The main one was trying to find out what happened to Emma and her entourage. Were they killed on the road? Is so, where are their bodies? Another plotline is the one about who started the fire at Glastonbury Abbey and whose bones are really buried there and why. As usual, it's the last person you think it is, but i guessed correctly early on, now that I'm familiar with the author's style. Some tender words and romance between Adelia and Rowley, the Bishop of St. Albans - and the father of her child. This made me happy, especially with her decision in regard to him. Finally we get some regret on Adelia's part of her decision way back when he wanted to marry her.
All in all, a good mystery, though I felt it was all over the place in parts with the different branches of the story leading to all sorts of revelations. Kate Reading, the narrator does a great job, I know her voice so well. She is the voice of Adelia to me. I like her men's voices as well, the high sing song voice of Mansur, in particular. Her Rowley is good too - just masculine enough to make him sound realistic - he's pissed off most of the time with Adelia. I like it how he complains that he's always rescuing her from some hole! I don't blame him - he does seem to be rescuing her in every book - always showing up just in the nick of time!
This is a really interesting series if you're into this time period with Henry II. She touches on some of the political aspects of Henry's woes with the church as well as medieval forensics. She writes a good mystery with some added romance and suspense, enough to keep the reader's attention. The last sentence, which gears up for the next book is particularly ominous. I'm afraid Adelia has made a mortal enemy. One that is not going to rest until he gets his revenge.