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Mistress Of The Art Of Death: Mistress of the Art of Death, Adelia Aguilar series 1 Paperback – 3 Feb 2011

4.3 out of 5 stars 67 customer reviews

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  • Mistress Of The Art Of Death: Mistress of the Art of Death, Adelia Aguilar series 1
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  • The Death Maze: Mistress of the Art of Death, Adelia Aguilar series 2
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  • Relics of the Dead: Mistress of the Art of Death, Adelia Aguilar series 3
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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (3 Feb. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857500368
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857500366
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 12.7 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 110,734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"a vigorous evocation of medieval life in all its richness and squalor and an attention-grabbing thriller." (BBC History magazine)

"Franklin is one of the very best creators of medieval whodunnits writing today" (Guardian)

"Great fun! Franklin succeeds in vividly bringing the 12th century to life with this cracking good story" (KATE MOSSE)

"A morbidly entertaining novel that outdoes the competition" (New York Times)

"Exhilarating... I want to crown Ariana Franklin Queen of the Historical Mystery!" (TESS GERRITSEN)

Book Description

Winner of the CWA Best Historical Crime Novel of the Year
Medieval England. A hideous murder. Enter the first female anatomist...

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I read the second book of the series before this one and therefore did not totally understand the histories of the main characters. I can safely say to any prospective reader that whilst the second book can be read as a stand alone novel, I would heartily recommend you read this one first.

Adelia, the main protagonist, is a fascinating but completely alien character to this early medieval environment in which she has been placed. However, if you are prepared to overlook the fact that Adelia's medical knowledge and social demeanour do not really belong in this period of time, you are in for a very absorbing read.

The book is certainly not for the fainthearted as the central plot involves the murder of children; at times described in quite graphic detail. If this is likely to cause upset or distress, then you should probably give this book a miss.

Fans of C. J. Sansom should enjoy this read as it's quite similar in style and genre. Adelia proves to be quite a likeable character once you get to know her and will probably become a firm favourite of many people to come.

If you are looking for a historical "Whodunnit" then look no further.
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Format: Paperback
On the one hand I enjoyed this novel very much. Ariana Franklin is a consummate story teller and her characters and the setting in which they act and react are wonderfully realised. You can actually believe you are there with them in the world she has built. There are some delightfully realised secondary personages. I was particularly fond of eelwife Gytha and her cheeky urchin son, Ulf. Henry II is spot on and I really warmed to Ariana Franklin's version of this fiercely intelligent king with his mingling of imperious authority and mischievous common touch - Bravo! It's a page turner, no doubt about it and for all the above reasons I would be glad to give it five stars.
However.... Abandon all hope of historical veracity ye who enter here. There are the usual detail errors that irk me because I know my 12th century and further irk me because the author claims on her website that she is historically accurate. I think not! Mention of brandy and laudanum which were not available in that century - so therefore some of the scenes could never have happened. Three Angevin lions when there were only two until the early 1190's. Costume errors. Sometimes it was more like reading about Chaucer's Pilgrims than the Becket bunch. Images such as Henry II talking about his billiard table (conjures a hilarious image of Henry with his cue in hand leaning over a table in the smoky fug of a bar!) or having his head referred to as a cannon ball, yanked me straight out of the story. There are errors peppered throughout the novel both the large and the small, of detail and of mindset.
The heroine is a woman of 21st century sensibilities, who also acts like a 21st century TV forensic expert.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the second time I've bought this book - why? Because I loved it, and loved the 3 subsequent novels featuring Adelia Aguilar, the 13th century Sicilian doctor who becomes 'attached' to Henry II of England. Attached in that he needs her expertise - which leads to all manner of adventures, and a most intriguing love affair with one of Henry's knights. 'Mistress of the Art of Death' is a medieval thriller and detective story rich in detail but never boring. Page turning, compelling to the point of needing to read the subsequent novels. As I say, I bought his book again to complete the set - the first one went missing. I shall read all four over again - the best praise there is!
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Format: Paperback
I've read a couple of negative reviews on this book, pointing out small details that are historically inaccurate. I'm not a historian, nor do I know a lot about the 12th century, so there was nothing to pull me out of the novel's world. I do know a little about the period, and I did greatly enjoy the characterisation of King Henry, and the English characters' general xenophobia felt accurate to me also.

The novel has a prologue and an epilogue and initially I found the voice of the prologue quite difficult, not just because of its omniscient narration but because it addresses the reader in a way I haven't seen in many recent novels. It felt quite 19th Century to me, and that's not a good thing to my taste. That said, the intrusive narrator soon disappears and the plot and characters gripped me rapidly.

The main character is fabulous. Yes, her views are quite modern (which may have irritated some other reviewers), but to me that's entirely consistent with a woman doing an uncharacteristic job and encountering prejudice on a regular basis. Or, more accurately, having to go to extraordinary lengths to avoid the prejudice that could see her put to death as a witch!

As a crime novel, there is some unpleasant detail - this is a book about a child murderer, after all - but considerably less than many others I've read. The text also doesn't delve into the psychology of the murderer, which seems historically consistent to me. Psychoanalysis as an explanation for criminology is a pretty recent concept, after all.

On a personal level, having grown up in East Anglia, I really enjoyed the depiction of Cambridge: its atmospheric fenland and especially the local dialect, which was very effectively drawn and frequently made me smile in recognition.
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