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How does a book this bad ever get published...
on 20 March 2013
...let alone become the first of a series which apparently confers some prestigious positions and awards upon its author? How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways.
Well, there's the clunky writing, so full of clichés that one could use it as a How-Not-To manual for a creative writing class; the personality-free characters; the repetition; the banal motive for the murder (the perpetrator was clear before the murder even too place) - and, worst of all, the appalling lack of historical knowledge. I'm no expert on what Tremayne anachronistically sees as the conflict between 'the Celtic Church' and 'the Roman Church', but whenever he strays on to territory which I do know something about, he's laughably inaccurate. One character says the rosary roughly 500 years before it was known (and uses the second half of the 'Hail Mary', which was introduced even later); the Angelus (another prayer half a millennium out of place) is said at midnight; monks and nuns pop in and out of each other's bedrooms - etc, etc, etc. He has some very weird ideas about double monasteries, too, and about the discipline of celibacy, not to mention an extraordinary prejudice against the English. (In one particularly laughable scene, there's an eclipse of the sun which the Irish characters shrug off - they're Scientifically Knowledgeable, see - but which terrifies the pore, iggerant Saxon types. It doesn't seem to have occurred to our author that nationality was comparatively unimportant at this period when it came to knowledge of the natural world, as every educated person - and monks of the rank he's writing about were generally well educated - would have known Ptolemy's Almagest.
I won't go on, but only because the book's not worth wasting words on. Had it been possible to give negative stars, this book would have received them, and I resent wasting money putting it on my Kindle (whence it has now been deleted).