Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Grave Goods by Ariana Franklin

From the Back: England, 1176. Beautiful, tranquil Glastonbury Abbey-according to legend the last resting place of King Arthur-has been burned almost to the ground. The arsonist remains at large, but the fire has uncovered two hidden skeletons, a man and a woman. The skeletons' height and age send rumors flying-could they be the bodies of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere?

King Henry II hopes so. Struggling to put down a rebellion in Wales, he wants definitive proof that the bones are Arthur's. If the Celtic rebels are sure that the Once and Future King will not be returning fro the dead to aid them, Henry can stamp out the rebellion for good. He calls on Adelia Aguilar, Mistress of the Art of Death, to examine the bones.

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, father of Adelia's daughter. And as if the task of solving the mystery weren't daunting enough, an unexpected evil waits in the woods near Glastonbury...

The First Line: Thus wrote Brother Caradoc in Saint Michael's chapel on top of Glastonbury Tor, to which he'd scrambled, gasping and sobbing, so as to escape the devastation that God with His earthquake had wrought on everything below it.

My Thoughts: I have enjoyed all three books in this series of historic mysteries and I view them as a kind of medieval CIS. Grave Goods is Franklin's third novel to feature Adelia, a most unusual, compelling and sympathetic heroine. Franklin's novels contain compelling character studies, the characters are well fleshed out and I found myself caring about them. I love the fascinating, detailed glimpses into the medieval world these characters inhabit. Among the subjects touched on were: medecine of the time, monastic life, politics, legal customs and inheritance rules. The mystery was suspenseful, pulled me in and kept me turning pages. To make this one even better the legend and mystery of King Arthur was thrown into the mix. There was a little romance but it didn't overwhelm the story. If you like a good historical novel, give these a try. I'm off to find the next in the series.

My Rating:

Quotes: And Adelia realized that for once she need not command through Mansur; these men belonged to a level of society so low that its women had to work at jobs other than that of a wife in order for their families to survive, holding a place of their own as fellow laborers in the fields, as ale brewers, laundresses, market sellers, maybe even as thieves, bringing in money that earned them a position of their own. Only the upper classes, where ladies were dependent on their lords, could afford to regard women as inferior.
If he'd died in battle, it had been at the hand of a ferocious enemy; the skull was staved in, cracks radiating out from the hole like an egg tapped with a heavy spoon. Instant death. The ribs, the six ribs, had bcome flailed so that they had been broken and detached from the chest wall.
New Word: sangfroid - page 303 - Coolness and composure, especially in trying circumstances.

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