- Paperback: 448 pages
- Publisher: Bantam (9 April 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0553818015
- ISBN-13: 978-0553818017
- Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.8 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 34,119 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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
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.
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.Read more ›
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.
Adelia Aguilar is a supremely well-formed protaganist and the plot is just convoluted enough to be interesting without being long-winded or impossible to follow. The changes in Adelia wrought by motherhood are particularly interesting, which is why I recommend reading Mistress.. first.
This is a wonderful mystery, rich with historical detail that in no way leaves you feeling like you are reading a text book. It is clearly well-researched but the details simply help to immerse the reader in the story, without detracting from it. And speaking as someone who does history for a living, that is no mean feat.
For anyone with an interest in history and a love of mysteries, this is a book not to be missed and I for one am very much hoping that there will be many more tales from Dr Aguilar's casebook in the future.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent series of books. Well written, different and scary. Loved them all.Published 8 months ago by Shirley David
This was a much better read than expected - really like the characters and the storyPublished 15 months ago by HonourYourReaders
Good read, interesting story and well written, sometimes
could not put it down. Really enjoyed it.
A great series. Always want to read the next one as soon as I finish the last. A brilliant feisty female lead, highlighting the perils for women in medieval times. Read morePublished 20 months ago by SER