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Valley of Dry Bones: A Medieval Mystery (Medieval Mysteries (Poisoned Pen Hardcover)) Hardcover – 2 Nov 2010

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 231 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press; 1 edition (2 Nov. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590587634
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590587638
  • Product Dimensions: 14.8 x 2.2 x 21.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,872,631 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Priscilla Royal, author of several books from Poisoned Pen Press in the Prioress Eleanor and Brother Thomas medieval mystery series, grew up in British Columbia and earned a BA in World Literature at San Francisco State University where she discovered the beauty of medieval literature. Before retiring from the US Federal Government in 2000, she worked in a variety of jobs, all of which provided an excellent education in the complexity of human experience and motivation. She is a theater fan as well as a reader of history, mystery, and fiction of lesser violence. The authors who most inspired her to commit medieval murder were Ellis Peters and Sharon Kay Penman. She is a member of California Writers Club, Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime. Her website is www.priscillaroyal.com.

Product Description

Review

Once again, Royal combines a well-executed plot with authentic period detail. "Publishers Weekly" on "Chambers of Death" "" STARRED REVIEW Against an authentic backdrop of medieval life and lore, Royal once again brings alive characters who are true to their period yet exhibit emotions and feelings that 21st-century readers will recognize as their own. "Publishers Weekly" on "Forsaken Soul" STARRED REVIEW The author subtly treats the erotic charge surrounding Eleanor and Thomas while shedding light on 13th-century understandings of sexuality. Royal draws together the murder, the manuscript and the ghost in an unexpected conclusion. "Publishers Weekly" on "Justice for the Damned"" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Priscilla Royal grew up in British Columbia, received a degree in World Literature from San Francisco State University, and lives in Northern California. She is a member of California Writers Club, Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. Her medieval mysteries, set in late thirteenth century England, include: "Wine of Violence, Tyrant of the Mind, Sorrow Without End, Justice for the Damned, Forsaken Soul, Chambers of Death," and the latest, "Valley of Dry Bones." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWER on 12 Dec. 2010
Format: Paperback
Pricilla Royal writes very good historical fiction - I've read the first six in this series - about woman-run Tyndal Priory in 13th century England. In this book, Prioress Eleanor is hosting an "advance party" who have arrived at the priory to check out it's suitability for hosting the new queen, Eleanor of Castille - on a pilgrimage tour. The "advance group" includes the usual disparate group of court officials and hangers-on, each with their own story. Two of the group are murdered and it's up to Prioress Eleanor to solve the murders, using reason and soft interrogation.

As with all series books, the reader returns to the lives of those we've been introduced to in previous books. Royal does a good job of advancing her running characters in her books. One of the most interesting characters in this book is "Brother Thomas". He became a religious brother to atone for the acts of sodomy he has committed with a young male lover. Also, to escape from being burned at the stake for his action. Royal's inclusion of "Brother Thomas" in her books is an example of her using non-stock characters in her writing. Added to Brother Thomas's sexual inclinations is the "lust in her heart" feelings aroused in Prioress Eleanor by Brother Thomas. While this is not the stuff of bodice-rippers, it's an interesting plot point in Royal's work.

Royal's work appeals to the historical novel fans. She writes very well and often annotates her work in the back of her books. Also appealing about Royal's books are the reasonableness of her books' prices. She's published in trade-paper by Poisoned Pen Press. Her book retails for $14.95, which is a bargain these days. I wish ALL books were published in trade-paper instead of hard-back, but that's an issue for another review, I think.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 26 reviews
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
I've actually read this book... 12 Dec. 2010
By Jill Meyer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
unlike Harriet Klausner, who pumps out 30 reviews a day on books she's supposedly "read".

Anyway, I enjoyed this book. Pricilla Royal writes very good historical fiction - I've read the first six in this series - about woman-run Tyndal Priory in 13th century England. In this book, Prioress Eleanor is hosting an "advance party" who have arrived at the priory to check out it's suitability for hosting the new queen, Eleanor of Castille - on a pilgrimage tour. The "advance group" includes the usual disparate group of court officials and hangers-on, each with their own story. Two of the group are murdered and it's up to Prioress Eleanor to solve the murders, using reason and soft interrogation.

As with all series books, the reader returns to the lives of those we've been introduced to in previous books. Royal does a good job of advancing her running characters in her books. One of the most interesting characters in this book is "Brother Thomas". He became a religious brother to atone for the acts of sodomy he has committed with a young male lover. Also, to escape from being burned at the stake for his action. Royal's inclusion of "Brother Thomas" in her books is an example of her using non-stock characters in her writing. Added to Brother Thomas's sexual inclinations is the "lust in her heart" feelings aroused in Prioress Eleanor by Brother Thomas. While this is not the stuff of bodice-rippers, it's an interesting plot point in Royal's work.

Royal's work appeals to the historical novel fans. She writes very well and often annotates her work in the back of her books. Also appealing about Royal's books are the reasonableness of her books' prices. She's published in trade-paper by Poisoned Pen Press. Her book retails for $14.95, which is a bargain these days. I wish ALL books were published in trade-paper instead of hard-back, but that's an issue for another review, I think.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Medieval murder-mystery set at country convent. 31 Mar. 2011
By Unabridged Chick - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
On Royal, Sharon Kay Penman says: "Anyone who hasn't read Priscilla Royal's mysteries yet is in for a treat." I like treats and I hadn't read any of her books, so I decided to dig in one rainy afternoon. I had no problem getting into the novel at first even though I hadn't read the previous six books. The pace was slow but that felt appropriate given that life then was a little slower. Each chapter loosely followed a single character and so a good part of the book is devoted to simply setting the stage.

Even though this isn't a book laden with historical detail, I still felt a strong medieval flavor to the story. Small details about monastic life or courtly behavior appear in the narrative as well as references to real historic events. But one doesn't have to be familiar with medieval English history to enjoy the story; every historical reference is explained for the reader to understand the significance.

I made the mistake of reading the publisher's letter included with the review copy, which gave away a few plot elements I would have preferred to discover myself. Perhaps they were revealed in the sixth book but it felt a little anticlimactic.

In the end, the slow pace of the story just couldn't keep my interest and as I didn't have a relationship with any of the characters from the previous books, I had a hard time keeping everyone straight. I might go back and start the series and eventually return to this book because I did enjoy it for a while. But I realized it's been two weeks since I've come back to this one so I think it's time to move on.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A powerful medieval mystery set in 1274 and probing King Edward's reign 22 Feb. 2011
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
VALLEY OF DRY BONES provides a powerful medieval mystery set in 1274 and probing King Edward's reign. His queen contemplates a pilgrimage and Prioress Eleanor nervously awaits a royal visit - only to discover one of the courtiers is murdered. Her involvement in the investigation will reveal an underlying current of politics, revenge and power games reaching into her secluded religious life in this fine dramatic historical mystery, perfect for any collection seeing patron interest in early settings.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Marred by SLOW pace, even for this series . . . 11 Jun. 2011
By NC Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
One of the things that draws me back to this historical mystery series and other series set in medieval times is reading about a time and place so different from our modern world. Royal generally provides a historically accurate and fascinating look into the slower-paced lives of her recurring characters, almost all religious serving at Tyndal Priory (some of the supporting characters, like Ralf the Crowner and Signy the innkeeper, are "civilians" from the nearby village). I especially admire Prioress Eleanor, whose youthful, slight appearance belies a sharp, logical mind and strong character. The plot in this entry, however, unlike the previous book in the series, "Chambers of Death", dragged to the point of almost causing me to doze off. I found myself losing patience with the plodding dialogue and multiple melodramas between Crowner Ralf and his brother Fulke; Eliduc, a creepy, rather oily visiting cleric and Prioress Eleanor, and the increasingly whiny, tortured, temporary hermit Brother Thomas and pretty much anyone he comes in contact with, that I finally started skimming toward the end.

Along with the snail's pace of the plotting, my second point of contention with this book was the clunky, awkward dialogue. As I said above I enjoy several medieval mystery series that are well-researched and well-written: Ellis Peters' classic Brother Cadfael, Margaret Frazer's Dame Frevisse, Sharan Newman's Catherine LeVandeur, Candace Robb's Owen Archer, and Paul Doherty's several outstanding medieval mystery series. All of these authors manage to entertain and inform with intriguing mysteries and favorite recurring characters, as Royal does, but they seem to do a better job writing authentic-sounding yet realistic dialogue. I've noticed it in past entries in this series, but it hasn't became a distraction for me until this book. I hope this author gets back on track in future and will look for the next book at the library, but will not automatically buy as I have in the past.
Very Interesting Mystery 17 Dec. 2011
By The Golden Reviewer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Sister Anne, Prioress of Tyndale in Norfolk, has taken vows of chastity and obedience, but chafes against them. She is attracted to Brother Thomas, a monk under her care, but he is gay and fights a continuous battle of the flesh. Edward I has just been anointed ruler of England, but memories of the rebellion against his father. King Henry III, still casts long shadows.

The new queen is contemplating a pilgrimage in gratitude for their return from Outremer with possibly a stay at Tyndale Priority. Envoys, which include Lady Aveline, lady-in-waiting to the queen, have been sent out to make certain that the Priority will be suitable. Aveline's husband, now deceased, who fought against King Henry III, has been declared a traitor. Lady Aveline is trying to win favors with the new rulers and get the title and lands restored to her son. Her son can't find his footing in the world and only wants to fight battles and tournaments to make a name for himself. He has no means for obtaining the necessary horse and armor and no one will sponsor him - they are afraid of getting out of favor with the king.

During the envoys stay at the Priority events take an unexpected turn. One of the courtiers is murdered. Each member of the party have reasons to hate the dead man including the sheriff and the Prioress's old nemesis - the man in black (a priest). Soon Prioress Eleanor is involved in the dangerous world of power games, both secular and religious.

A very interesting mystery. The author paints the thirteenth century in bold, convincing colors and portrays its people with style, suspense and wit.

Highly recommended.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.
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