Candace Robb's Owen Archer Mystery series is a treat which should not be missed by readers who are fond of fiction set in mediaeval times. She has produced another gripping story in 'A Gift of Sanctuary' - sixth book in her Owen Archer Mystery series. (Till date the eight titles published in the series are; The Apothecary Rose, The Lady Chapel, The Nun's Tale, The King's Bishop, The Riddle of St. Leonard's, A Gift of Sanctuary, A Spy for the Redeemer and The Cross-legged Knight.)
Owen Archer, one eyed ex-soldier and part time spy in the 14th century England, accompanies a pilgrimage to the city of St.David's. Accompanied by Geoffrey Chaucer, he is to recruit archers for the Duke of Lancaster. His hidden agenda is to ascertain the loyalty of Duke's steward at Cydweli. Candace Robb weaves the story well. Right from the beginning one gets involved in the characters and their struggles. Owen's self-doubt about his own loyalties as he returns to his homeland - Wales. Sir Robert and Brother Michaelo's inner journey into their past, their regrets and repentance. Chaucer's forays into poetry. And all this successfully knitted into a tight tale of murder, suspense and politics backed by excellent research in the time period by the author. Though a reader like me who does not have any previous knowledge of the Welsh history gets a little lost in the maze of Welsh names and historical references, it does not detract heavily from the overall satisfaction of a reading a well written book. Lovers of this genre may like to check out 'Chronicles of Brother Cadfael' by Ellis Peters and the master piece of this genre, Umberto Eco's 'The Name of the Rose'.