In 1176, King Henry II sends his ten-year-old daughter, Joanna, to Palermo to marry William II of Sicily. War on the Continent and outbreaks of plague make it an especially dangerous journey, so the king selects as his daughter’s companion the woman he trusts most: Adelia Aguilar, his mistress of the art of death. As a medical doctor and native of Sicily, it will be Adelia’s job to travel with the princess and safeguarding her health until the wedding
Adelia wants to refuse—accompanying the royal procession means leaving behind her nine-year-old daughter. Unfortunately, Henry has arranged for the girl to live at court, both as a royal ward and as a hostage to ensure that Adelia will return to the king’s service. So Adelia sets off for a yearlong royal procession. Accompanying her on the journey are her Arab companion, Mansur, her lover, Rowley, and an unusual newcomer: the Irish sea captain O’Donnell, who may prove more useful to Adelia than Rowley would like.
But another man has joined the procession—a murderer bent on the worst kind of revenge. When people in the princess’s household begin to die, Adelia and Rowley suspect that the killer is hiding in plain sight. Is his intended victim the princess . . . or Adelia herself?
Paperback: 400 pagesPublisher: Berkley Trade; Reprint edition (March 1, 2011)
First line: Between the parishes of Shepfold and Martlake in Somerset existed an area of no-man's land and a lot of ill feeling.
My Thoughts: I have thoroughly enjoyed all 4 books in this series. I have been wanting to read this one for quite a while and when I finished it I looked up the author to see when I could expect the next book to be published. While the problems in this book are solved it ends in a cliff-hanger. I was so sad to read that Ariana Franklin, the pen name of author Diana Norman, died in January 2011. Now I'll never know what happens to Adelia and Rowley, to O'Donnell, Ulf and all the other characters I've come to love.
Over the course of this series I've enjoyed the sense of time and place that Franklin brought to her writing. It has been facinating. The Author's Notes at the end of each book explain some of her research, which brings exciting and educational details to this series. If you like historical fiction, murder mysteries or forensic novels you'll like this series.
Excerpt: "Also," the king said, "out of our charity and in the service of God, we have given our permission to certain devout pilgrims to the Holy Land that they may cross the Channel with you this evening and travel by land in the safety of my daughter's train."
Adelia's mouth twitched. Henry loathed pilgrims; they were exempt from paying any tax for the pilgrimage's duration and left a hole in his revenue.
Diana Norman (Ariana Franklin)
Ariana Franklin (Books, Announcement of her death)
Joan of England, Queen of Sicily