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The Death Maze: Mistress of the Art of Death, Adelia Aguilar series 2 Paperback – 9 Apr 2009
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"Highly entertaining... Franklin is an adept storyteller who disseminates her research into the period with clarity and lightness of touch" (THE TIMES)
"Franklin is one of the very best creators of medieval whodunits writing today. The snow falls, the death toll mounts... and the Thames freezes over in this wonderfully atmospheric, fast-paced and intelligent recreation of a vanished world" (GUARDIAN)
"Captivating... this excellent adventure delivers high drama" (THE NEW YORK TIMES)
"It's as original as its prize-winning predecessor: a real treat" (LITERARY REVIEW)
"Mesmerizing... A colourful cast of characters, both good and evil, enhance a tale that will keep readers on edge until the final page" (PUBLISHERS WEEKLY)
Highly entertaining...Franklin is an adept storyteller who disseminates her research into the period with clarity and lightness of touchSee all Product description
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Top customer reviews
The unusual female protagonist was a refreshing change in a genre where male detectives tend to dominate an author's attention. In this book the author has skilfully woven a twisting tale where an independent forward thinking woman utilises her skills and education in a society where women were definitely seen as second class citizens by men and the established Church.
Such is the appeal of this unusual combination of characteristics surrounding Adelia, that you can't help willing her to succeed and strongly empathise with her at key moments of the story.
The plot is certainly deceptive! Just when you think you have learnt all there is to know about the crimes and expect the author to wrap the story up, along comes a massive surprise - throwing a proverbial spanner in the works!
Unique, appealing and engrossing are labels that best describe this book. If you enjoy books set during the early medieval period and with a `fictional crime thriller flavour'; then buy this one and delve in!
Be aware however, that this is book two and there is an initial instalment in the series.
Ariana Franklin is the pseudonym of a well-known author of historical novels, Diana Norman, wife of the film critic Barry Norman. She is a former Fleet Street Reporter and lives in Hertfordshire.
I thoroughly enjoyed the author's first book Mistress Of The Art Of Death, finding it well researched and very well written, so of course I was delighted when I saw the Serpent's tale in the bookshop. Sometimes in these circumstances the reader feels let down, either because the second book is not as good as the first or more likely the reader's expectations are too high. No such thing with this book, it is equally as good if not better than the first, particularly as the main character of Adelia Aguilar is now familiar to those who have read the first book.
In the first novel, Adelia initially came to England at the request of Henry I who asked his cousin the king of Sicily to send him a "Master of Death" an early version of our present medical examiner in the hope that a scientific examination would be able to exonerate the Jewish community and save them from the rioting mob who believe that the Jews sacrifice Christian children. The Italian doctor chosen for the task is a young prodigy from the University of Salerno. But her name is Adelia, the king has been sent a mistress of the art of death.
In the Serpent's Tale Henry II is now on the throne and his mistress Rosamund Clifford has died a painful death by poisoning. Henry's wife Eleanor of Aquitaine is the number one suspect. Henry feels that this could well be the start of a campaign by Eleanor to discredit him and take the throne either for herself or her son's. Civil war could soon break out and Henry needs an answer to the crime and quickly. Henry immediately sends for Adelia is Mistrress of the Art of Death, who is less than pleased to be brought from retirement in the country where she is spending a carefree life attending to the needs of her little daughter.
Brought from her retirement in the country where she's bringing up her young daughter, the "mistress of death" is returned to investigate the death of the King Henry II's Mistress. But the chief suspect is Henry's wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, the famed mother of Englands greatest king, Richard the Lionheart. But who's the killer, Henry or Eleanor or someone behind the scenes. A great read that will keep you glued to the last page.
King Henry II refused to let Adelia Aguilar return to her home at the School of Medicine in Sicily so she is living in the fens with her baby daughter Allie, companion and baby's nursemain Gyltha, the Saracan Mansur, who poses as the doctor allowing Adelia to treat patients without being named a witch, and her new dog Ward.
King Henry's mistress, Rosemund, has been poisoned and his wife, Queen Eleanor is being accused. Adelia, recruited by Rowley, must prove Eleanor's innocence before the country is brought to civil war.
In some ways, this seemed a much bigger story than Franklin's first book (Mistress of the Art of Death) because of the themes.
Franklin presents a very real, unromanticized look at the time and the people in it, including Thomas Beckett and Queen Eleanor. She clearly illustrates how difficult it was to be a woman during the time as well as what life was like during civil war for those not of the ruling class.
Her descriptions are extremely visual and sometimes quite unpleasant but very effective. Although I had read the first book, I appreciated the way Franklin provided a recapitulation of the plot and the character's backgrounds sufficient to bring readers up to current to this book. It's not all politics and description.
The plot is fascinating with good intrigue and suspense with bits of romance and humor. Yes, there are anachronisms, but they are small and I've willing to forgive them when viewed against the strengths of the story. In all, it was a fascinating book and a thoroughly good read.
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could not put it down. Really enjoyed it.