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The Serpent's Tale

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Ariana Franklin combines the best of modern forensic thrillers with the drama of historical fiction in the enthralling second novel in the Mistress of the Art of Death series, featuring medieval heroine Adelia Aguilar. Rosamund Clifford, the mistress of King Henry II, has died an agonizing death by poison - and the king's estranged queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, is the prime Ariana Franklin combines the best of modern forensic thrillers with the drama of historical fiction in the enthralling second novel in the Mistress of the Art of Death series, featuring medieval heroine Adelia Aguilar. Rosamund Clifford, the mistress of King Henry II, has died an agonizing death by poison - and the king's estranged queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, is the prime suspect. Henry suspects that Rosamund's murder is probably the first move in Eleanor's long-simmering plot to overthrow him. If Eleanor is guilty, the result could be civil war. The king must once again summon Adelia Aguilar, mistress of the art of death, to uncover the truth. Adelia is not happy to be called out of retirement. She has been living contentedly in the countryside, caring for her infant daughter, Allie. But Henry's summons cannot be ignored, and Adelia must again join forces with the king's trusted fixer, Rowley Picot, the Bishop of St. Albans, who is also her baby's father. Adelia and Rowley travel to the murdered courtesan's home, in a tower within a walled labyrinth - a strange and sinister place from the outside, but far more so on the inside, where a bizarre and gruesome discovery awaits them. But Adelia's investigation is cut short by the appearance of Rosamund's rival: Queen Eleanor. Adelia, Rowley, and the other members of her small party are taken captive by Eleanor's henchmen and held in the nunnery of Godstow, where Eleanor is holed up for the winter with her band of mercenaries, awaiting the right moment to launch their rebellion. Isolated and trapped inside the nunnery by the snow and cold, Adelia and Rowley watch as dead bodies begin piling up. Adelia knows that there may be more than one killer at work, and she must unveil their true identities before England is once again plunged into civil war . . .


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Ariana Franklin combines the best of modern forensic thrillers with the drama of historical fiction in the enthralling second novel in the Mistress of the Art of Death series, featuring medieval heroine Adelia Aguilar. Rosamund Clifford, the mistress of King Henry II, has died an agonizing death by poison - and the king's estranged queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, is the prime Ariana Franklin combines the best of modern forensic thrillers with the drama of historical fiction in the enthralling second novel in the Mistress of the Art of Death series, featuring medieval heroine Adelia Aguilar. Rosamund Clifford, the mistress of King Henry II, has died an agonizing death by poison - and the king's estranged queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, is the prime suspect. Henry suspects that Rosamund's murder is probably the first move in Eleanor's long-simmering plot to overthrow him. If Eleanor is guilty, the result could be civil war. The king must once again summon Adelia Aguilar, mistress of the art of death, to uncover the truth. Adelia is not happy to be called out of retirement. She has been living contentedly in the countryside, caring for her infant daughter, Allie. But Henry's summons cannot be ignored, and Adelia must again join forces with the king's trusted fixer, Rowley Picot, the Bishop of St. Albans, who is also her baby's father. Adelia and Rowley travel to the murdered courtesan's home, in a tower within a walled labyrinth - a strange and sinister place from the outside, but far more so on the inside, where a bizarre and gruesome discovery awaits them. But Adelia's investigation is cut short by the appearance of Rosamund's rival: Queen Eleanor. Adelia, Rowley, and the other members of her small party are taken captive by Eleanor's henchmen and held in the nunnery of Godstow, where Eleanor is holed up for the winter with her band of mercenaries, awaiting the right moment to launch their rebellion. Isolated and trapped inside the nunnery by the snow and cold, Adelia and Rowley watch as dead bodies begin piling up. Adelia knows that there may be more than one killer at work, and she must unveil their true identities before England is once again plunged into civil war . . .

30 review for The Serpent's Tale

  1. 5 out of 5

    Annet

    Really good reading, this historical series! You smell and you feel the old ages through the pages...the dirt, the snow, the food, the fear.... 4.5 stars for me. I need to read the sequel soon. Highly recommended for those who like strong historical fiction. Sorry to read on Goodreads that Ariana Franklin is no longer among us....She was a great writer. Set in the dark 12th century England, it's the story featuring Henry II, the Plantagenet king and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine and Adelia Aquil Really good reading, this historical series! You smell and you feel the old ages through the pages...the dirt, the snow, the food, the fear.... 4.5 stars for me. I need to read the sequel soon. Highly recommended for those who like strong historical fiction. Sorry to read on Goodreads that Ariana Franklin is no longer among us....She was a great writer. Set in the dark 12th century England, it's the story featuring Henry II, the Plantagenet king and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine and Adelia Aquilar, brought up as a free-thinker and schooled in Italy as a doctor and to perform autopsies. In this story it's about Henry's contentious queen Eleanor, whose agile mind, strong will and vibrant personality make her a formidable adversary for her royal spouse. Henry II wants Adelia by his side as a mystery solver and doctor, while she would rather return to Italy with her little baby (fathered by bishop Rowley by the way...). But when the mistress of King Henry II is poisoned, suspicion falls on the estranged queen Eleanor and the King firmly requests Adelia to investigate..... Tbc.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Donald

    This is an okay historial murder-myster-whodunit. The main problem is with the main character; I never liked her. She also has problems with what she believes; in one instant, she's giving a poor girl a cross necklace and in the other, she's saying things like she doesn't want anything to do with a God who allows [insert whatever it is she's railing against at the moment], but then later prays for God's protection. Confusing. The author also repeats herself ad nauseum. Yes, we know what the main This is an okay historial murder-myster-whodunit. The main problem is with the main character; I never liked her. She also has problems with what she believes; in one instant, she's giving a poor girl a cross necklace and in the other, she's saying things like she doesn't want anything to do with a God who allows [insert whatever it is she's railing against at the moment], but then later prays for God's protection. Confusing. The author also repeats herself ad nauseum. Yes, we know what the main character did in a previous book; yes, we know she has a child; yes, we know she has a long name; yes, we know she's a "mistress of death" and does dissections; yes, we know, we know, we know.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ingrid

    Nearly five stars. I know it's not literature but these stars are for how much I personally enjoyed this book. Again I've left this day and age and spent some time in the 12th century as a safe spectator to the adventures of Adelia. Some remarks of the bishop made me laugh. Nice tongue in cheek humor.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Eva

    More than just a good read. This series about a 12th century mistress of death solving murdermysteries is ver addictive. I know very little about this period and enjoy learning about 12th century England and Henry II. I love the main character Adelia Aguilar. She struggles, being a doctor and a woman, which is a contradictory in England in that time. She also struggles with her beliefs: sometimes an atheïst, sometimes not. This is part 2 in the series in which Adelia has to find out who poisoned More than just a good read. This series about a 12th century mistress of death solving murdermysteries is ver addictive. I know very little about this period and enjoy learning about 12th century England and Henry II. I love the main character Adelia Aguilar. She struggles, being a doctor and a woman, which is a contradictory in England in that time. She also struggles with her beliefs: sometimes an atheïst, sometimes not. This is part 2 in the series in which Adelia has to find out who poisoned the king's mistress. Bishop Rowley asks her to investigate. He fears Queen Eleanor will be blamed, which would possibly result in civil war. I found the first book in this series sleightly better, but i would give this one still almost 4 stars. Very enjoyable and interesting read. Makes me interested to read more about Henry and his Queen Eleanor.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Richard Derus

    Rating: 3.5* of five This mystery novel is the second outing for Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar, Mistress of the Art of Death, in (reluctant) service to His Majesty Henry II Plantagenet, and based in and around Oxford. It's a fun book to read, and Adelia is fun to spend time with. She's a character with a complete lack of history, as she's a foundling, and she's invented herself as a fish out of water as a result. She's simply not anyone's but her own, unlike most people. Her new baby daughte Rating: 3.5* of five This mystery novel is the second outing for Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar, Mistress of the Art of Death, in (reluctant) service to His Majesty Henry II Plantagenet, and based in and around Oxford. It's a fun book to read, and Adelia is fun to spend time with. She's a character with a complete lack of history, as she's a foundling, and she's invented herself as a fish out of water as a result. She's simply not anyone's but her own, unlike most people. Her new baby daughter is a major player in the grim and sad events related in this book. Her daughter's birth has changed Adelia in ways she never anticipated (anyone who's had a kid knows this is true) and Adelia is forced on many occasions to change her actions to protect her child. Rowley Picot, the baby-daddy, is a bishop now, at the behest of King Henry. He changes in some very major ways too, and the two former lovers are left to negotiate the new, strange territory that lies between them in some very believably confused and frustrated ways. Henry, whom we met in "Mistress of the Art of Death", is here joined by his queen, Alienor of Aquitaine. She's portrayed in a way that I hadn't seen her before, as a *monumentally* self-absorbed woman; she's so often portrayed as a scheming politician, a vengeful fury, a siren from Hell; this woman is one I believe could have existed, she's so richly drawn. Henry himself is given the unenviable position of betrayed man, left to twist by all those he trusted and loved. I think he's so sad. Others didn't see what he saw, so they simply did what suited them, what their greeds and lusts and selfishnesses prompted them to do; Henry was left with himself to trust, and that's an awful position for anyone to be in, still less a person of such great power as a king. The famously murdered Archbishop Thomas a Becket is never seen here, but Franklin's unorthodox take on him left me chuckling, nodding, and thumbs-upping the pages. It's a minor, throwaway kind of thing, but like all really good writers, even those moments add something new to Franklin's characters and plots. So I recommend this book to all mystery fans, to historical fictioneers, and to the orderly souls who need puzzles to solve. Why, then, do I leave this book, glad to have read it, with a sense that it's...wanting...in some significant way? I don't know how, exactly. It's a good book, and you'll like it very much, and there isn't a thing *wrong* with it. But it's just not as good as "Mistress of the Art of Death", and I don't know why.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Who knew one could find murder mysteries placed in twelfth century England? A very palatable way to learn history.

  7. 4 out of 5

    LJ

    THE DEATH MAZE (aka The Serpent’s Tale) (Hist. Mys-Adelia Aguilar-England-1172) – VG+ Franklin, Ariana – 2nd in series Bantam Press, 2008, UK Hardcover – ISBN: 9780593056509 First Sentence: The two men’s voices carried down the tunnels with a reverberation that made them indistinguishable but, even so, gave the impression of a business meeting. 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, THE DEATH MAZE (aka The Serpent’s Tale) (Hist. Mys-Adelia Aguilar-England-1172) – VG+ Franklin, Ariana – 2nd in series Bantam Press, 2008, UK Hardcover – ISBN: 9780593056509 First Sentence: The two men’s voices carried down the tunnels with a reverberation that made them indistinguishable but, even so, gave the impression of a business meeting. 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.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Meredith

    I was, by the barest whisper, sufficiently curious about the heroine from "Mistress of the Art of Death" to get a copy of this from the local library. It's a fast read - I churned through it in about a day - but man. I was disappointed by its predecessor, and this one's not all that great either. Franklin's writing is more than a little ham-fisted at times, and it gets repetitive. Again, I wasn't too surprised when the big reveal came along at the end. Also, I'm coincidentally in the middle of Al I was, by the barest whisper, sufficiently curious about the heroine from "Mistress of the Art of Death" to get a copy of this from the local library. It's a fast read - I churned through it in about a day - but man. I was disappointed by its predecessor, and this one's not all that great either. Franklin's writing is more than a little ham-fisted at times, and it gets repetitive. Again, I wasn't too surprised when the big reveal came along at the end. Also, I'm coincidentally in the middle of Alison Weir's biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Eleanor and her husband Henry Plantagenet are a pretty substantial minor characters in this book, and Franklin definitely weaves in more of the legends around Eleanor and Henry than the facts. So, in terms of historical fiction, it's heavy on the "fiction" part. I still saw the same inconsistencies and anachronisms that bugged me in the previous book, too. All in all, Franklin can write a really fast-paced mystery, but not without annoying me in the process.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette

    Certain points and situations were 5 star in this Mistress of the Arts #2. The entire couple of chapters getting into the Tower, through the Maze, were 5 star, for instance. Detail and nuance and Adelia's persuasions and methods- PERFECT. It's a micro view of her part in England, IMHO. Liking the entire, I just didn't connect or enjoy this particular episode as much as I did the first. But it's well placed and yet the language intricate requiring constant attention to meanings. Often archaic to t Certain points and situations were 5 star in this Mistress of the Arts #2. The entire couple of chapters getting into the Tower, through the Maze, were 5 star, for instance. Detail and nuance and Adelia's persuasions and methods- PERFECT. It's a micro view of her part in England, IMHO. Liking the entire, I just didn't connect or enjoy this particular episode as much as I did the first. But it's well placed and yet the language intricate requiring constant attention to meanings. Often archaic to their nuance. And this one, for me, was too long. But I will not be turned from taking on the next #3. Rowley is getting MORE humorous the longer the series. It might be much better! That ending here with Henry II doing what he did alone and secretly, plus being where it was at the finale? It REALLY stretches the imagination that he would be outstripping all of his associates and underlings for this measure of time. This is an era in his position where it took 10 or 15 people just to wake you up, get you dressed etc. Kings were ever watched beyond guarded, so it was a hard nut to swallow having him being alone and in this possible situation on a campaign, yet with this attitude. As did too many supposedly "known" characters that absolutely were not. Not Dakers, she was finely drawn. Others? Well a few, I never got their onus with the plot being either separated to place or too circular. Eleanor was certainly herself.

  10. 5 out of 5

    L.E. Fidler

    two things happened in this installment that made me incredibly happy: 1. ariana franklin only felt compelled to mention once or twice the unhappy tragedy of thomas becket and henry's "side comment" to his knights about getting rid of the bugger. 2. adelia's full name only gets mentioned twice two of my biggest gripes about the first book in the series were the previously mentioned items that franklin threw in the reader's face any time there was a chance to do so. here, she seems to have learned two things happened in this installment that made me incredibly happy: 1. ariana franklin only felt compelled to mention once or twice the unhappy tragedy of thomas becket and henry's "side comment" to his knights about getting rid of the bugger. 2. adelia's full name only gets mentioned twice two of my biggest gripes about the first book in the series were the previously mentioned items that franklin threw in the reader's face any time there was a chance to do so. here, she seems to have learned to temper herself a bit more (although, it was probably more because this book was more about eleanor than henry). the sweetmeat: 1. adelia has mellowed considerably with the birth of her baby. i related to the breastfeeding thing: not so much the "negative vibe" crap (because, quite frankly, most of the time i feel compelled to nurse my infant because my boobs have turned into rock-solid pornstar tits), but more the decision (or, rather, the unwillingness) to wean on the part of the mother. 2. gyltha has grown on me considerably. not that i didn't like her in the first book, but that i definitely have a deep appreciation of her now. 3. eleanor - like a crazed peacock, eleanor descends on the plot. i loved her - she's totally batty, even childishly petulant at times, but brilliant and strong even in her maniacal need to get revenge on her husband. all the scorned women here can hold their own (to an extent) and it's nice to see in a plot that centers on the restrictions of the gender...plus, it's such a curious combination of traits...and it sort of works...so i'm making it a positive. 4. rowley-powley - both baby and father were not the obnoxious side plot i feared they'd be. in fact, franklin is particularly adept at making sure the reader doesn't hate rowley, even though adelia claims to. 5. the nod to julian of norwich - any good medieval scholar will appreciate the scene between the abbey's mother superior and adelia where the nun explains to the cynical italian about god the mother. the scene is a bit out of place, in a sense, but i like the attempt to infuse scholarship to a generic mystery. 6. the perpetual nod to the canterbury tales. here, we get a character who could be the squire (of course, he ends up dead for his love letters and wooin') and the lawyer (the squire's money-man and potential killer). keep that up - the books are more successful when you do so! the deadly mushrooms: 1. poor dead and rotting rosamund the fair - gah! this was like a scene out of se7en. in fact, i thought for awhile that franklin was going to do a medieval ripoff of the movie because of rosamund's gluttonous depiction here (she didn't). rosie here is fat and dead. her corpse remains unburied for awhile...it gets...gross. 2. dakers - i never mind a subtle homage but dakers here is practically a total ripoff of "danny" danvers from "rebecca" (a character whose insanity and creepiness i totally love). i don't know - it felt sort of cheap to give her the same sort of treatment (almost down to the all-consuming fire, which dakers escapes death from) 3. henry II - i love henry, i really do. but the last scene with him felt...weird. i couldn't tell if franklin was trying to set up some bizarre "wooing" or what. it makes little to no sense to me that henry would insist on keeping adelia around england so rigidly and then "forget" to pay her (an omission that gets mentioned SEVERAL times). i don't know. it didn't resonate with me. 4. the mystery - the killers were SO predictable. even the "twist"...blech. i just wanted them caught already by the end. 5. the women-hate - i get it. the medieval era was not really the time for female empowerment. men fear and hate that which they don't understand (or, that which bleeds once a month). adelia's constant pondering of her gender dilemma seemed so inappropriate for the time period. more distracting than thought-provoking. 6. ulf - stop telling us how much you miss him and bring him back, gosh darn it! 3.5 stars for another fun but flawed adventure into CT spinoff land.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Wench

    Put Temperance Brennan from "Bones" in the Plantagenet era, make her a less sympathetic and more inconsistent character, and add a heaping helping of heavy-handed WOMEN HAD IT TERRIBLY BAD BACK THEN AND THE PEOPLE RESPONSIBLE SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF THEMSELVES, AND IF I (THE AUTHOR IN THE GUISE OF THE MAIN CHARACTER) WERE IN CHARGE THINGS WOULD BE BETTER, and you have this book. I wanted to find out whodunit, then I did. The last 40 pages then became unnecessary. I'm glad I picked this up for only Put Temperance Brennan from "Bones" in the Plantagenet era, make her a less sympathetic and more inconsistent character, and add a heaping helping of heavy-handed WOMEN HAD IT TERRIBLY BAD BACK THEN AND THE PEOPLE RESPONSIBLE SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF THEMSELVES, AND IF I (THE AUTHOR IN THE GUISE OF THE MAIN CHARACTER) WERE IN CHARGE THINGS WOULD BE BETTER, and you have this book. I wanted to find out whodunit, then I did. The last 40 pages then became unnecessary. I'm glad I picked this up for only $1. The smug superiority, plodding mystery, and awful people populating this book are just too much.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Linda (Miss Greedybooks)

    Adelia, Mansuer, Gylthia - I enjoyed reading about them again! I am happy I read another book in this series. Normally I am on Eleanor of Aquitaine's side, but I have to admit Henry II has his good side also. The writing is well done, the characters keep in their century, and I am looking forward to reading the next book!

  13. 5 out of 5

    obsessedwithbooks

    The Serpent’s Tale by Arianna Franklin is the second book in the Mistress of the Art of Death series set in Medieval England during the reign of King Henry I (Plantagenet). I am not providing details of the first book, Mistress of the Art of Death, or a summary of The Serpent’s Tale. In The Serpent’s Tale the author conveys more a sense of delight in telling a tale of murder than in Mistress of the Art of Death, which I felt more a sense of dread and doom throughout, plus the child murders being The Serpent’s Tale by Arianna Franklin is the second book in the Mistress of the Art of Death series set in Medieval England during the reign of King Henry I (Plantagenet). I am not providing details of the first book, Mistress of the Art of Death, or a summary of The Serpent’s Tale. In The Serpent’s Tale the author conveys more a sense of delight in telling a tale of murder than in Mistress of the Art of Death, which I felt more a sense of dread and doom throughout, plus the child murders being a very heavy subject it would have been difficult to impart lightness to it. I thought the second book in the series definitely had more elements of humor…I chuckled out loud many times throughout the book…I didn’t expect to do so. It has been quite awhile since I read Mistress of the Art of Death…sufficient length of time between its reading and The Serpent’s Tale to have no expectations for the second book’s story. I expected to enjoy it less after a few reviews I had read seemed to prefer the first book, but I found the second story more thrilling and engaging…probably due to less description of the injustices done to dead bodies and Adelia’s forensic methods. The first story dealt with child murders so the subject material was more difficult to read in the first place, plus The Serpent’s Tale was more humorous. The Serpent’s Tale is more straight mystery without much of the interwoven “romance” between Adelia and Rowley present in Mistress of the Art of Death, though we are still quite aware of their feelings toward each other. There were many nuances of thought and detail that added suspense and interest to the portrayal of Medieval England in this story. I appreciated rich descriptions of Godstow, the Thames, the tower, the winter climate; ideas of religion, forward thinking and feminism. Some might not appreciate that Adelia is now in this situation of having born a girl child out of wedlock and still having unresolved feelings for Rowley, now a Bishop, and employed in a profession such as hers. But I think the new plot element – Adelia having born a girl child (replacing Ulf in the first book) – is essential to balance the story, adding a softness to juxtapose the brutal nature of the murders Adelia investigates, and even Adelia herself, who struggles to balance the more analytical, unemotional facets of her personality, with emotional desires of home and love. The book’s title is The Serpent’s Tale, ergo there must be a serpent…I guessed the identity of the murderer on page 272, only about 60 pages before the murderer is actually revealed. I’m amazed I reasoned it out, as there were a lot of oddball twists and turns as roadblocks, but there are a few clues pointing you in the right direction. The Serpent’s Tale has a really good suspenseful plot and then a great reveal and explanation. Arianna Franklin definitely left some loose ends that can be used in future stories…Will the “Serpent” return?...Does Adelia go back to her homeland?...What will happen with Rowley? For the last question King Henry tells Adelia that she will “Never be safe”. Trying not to give away too much of the plot here but King Henry’s statement allows for more interaction between Rowley and Adelia in the future. Only a couple of things annoyed me. First that there was not a map of the area at the beginning of the book like there was in Mistress of the Art of Death. Second, the way Arianna Franklin treats the intimacy between Adelia and Rowley when he is waiting for her in her room at Godstow. I think the description was just too metaphorical…it surprised me and seemed so unnecessary when a more straightforward wording would have been better. Why must need cover up the physical affirmation of their feelings in all the mumbo jumbo? Anyways, this was only one very short paragraph in an otherwise superb story. The author has hit her stride and I am very much looking forward to the third book, Grave Goods, due to be released in trade paperback February 3rd. My Rating: 4.5 http://myobsessionwithbooks.blogspot....

  14. 4 out of 5

    Felicia

    I finally caught up with this series, and totally enjoyed the book as much as the first. There is immaculate research about the time of Henry II here, and as a fan of the era I just LOVED being immersed in a believable way in the world. Our heroine is sent to investigate the mysterious death of the king's mistress, there's nuns and bloated corpses and poisonous mushrooms and assassins. This book has it all, and some great personal conflict/growth too. I love her maid Gwylfa (however you spell it) I finally caught up with this series, and totally enjoyed the book as much as the first. There is immaculate research about the time of Henry II here, and as a fan of the era I just LOVED being immersed in a believable way in the world. Our heroine is sent to investigate the mysterious death of the king's mistress, there's nuns and bloated corpses and poisonous mushrooms and assassins. This book has it all, and some great personal conflict/growth too. I love her maid Gwylfa (however you spell it) and the main character's relationship with her baby was touching and not overdone. Loved this one!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

    This is the second in Ariana Franklin’s Mistress of Death series, and while I enjoyed it, I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the first in the series. I’m not exactly sure what was missing from this one, although it felt as though Adelia, the forerunner to today’s forensic pathologists, did less of the examination of bodies in this than in the first and there was more traipsing back and forth being made to follow this person and that. It was still a good read, that had me turning the pages to fin This is the second in Ariana Franklin’s Mistress of Death series, and while I enjoyed it, I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the first in the series. I’m not exactly sure what was missing from this one, although it felt as though Adelia, the forerunner to today’s forensic pathologists, did less of the examination of bodies in this than in the first and there was more traipsing back and forth being made to follow this person and that. It was still a good read, that had me turning the pages to find out the solution. I will definitely continue with the series.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Janice

    This series is working its way to becoming one of my favourites. In this one, Adelia is required to help determine the death and killer of King Henry II's fair Rosamund. I hesitate to call this historical fiction because it takes great liberties with the history. Shall we call it "loosely historical"? The author does take time to point out where she strays from what is known of the period. But the value in this book is the craftsmanship of storytelling that Ariana Franklin possessed.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ivana

    Veľmi pekná čitateľná historická detektívka z plantagenetovského obdobia. Druhá časť z cyklu o Adélie, vykladačke smrti. Za Adélie príde biskup Rowley, s ktorým má spoločnú minulosť. Rosamundu Clifford, milenku kráľa sa niekto pokúsil otráviť a Rowley sa bojí, aby to nevyvolalo domnienku, že to prikázala urobiť Eleónora, kráľovná anglická. Adélie musí vypátrať skutočného objednávateľa vraždy a zároveň sa vysporiadať s vlastnou minulosťou i novými nástrahami. Začiatok bol pomalší, v časti, kde sa s Veľmi pekná čitateľná historická detektívka z plantagenetovského obdobia. Druhá časť z cyklu o Adélie, vykladačke smrti. Za Adélie príde biskup Rowley, s ktorým má spoločnú minulosť. Rosamundu Clifford, milenku kráľa sa niekto pokúsil otráviť a Rowley sa bojí, aby to nevyvolalo domnienku, že to prikázala urobiť Eleónora, kráľovná anglická. Adélie musí vypátrať skutočného objednávateľa vraždy a zároveň sa vysporiadať s vlastnou minulosťou i novými nástrahami. Začiatok bol pomalší, v časti, kde sa snažili dostať k Rosamunde, to autorka natiahla až príliš, ale inak to bola vyvážená detektívka, určite si prečítam aj ďalšie časti. Musím povedať, že z opisov trochu nezvyčajnej anglickej zimy ma až mrazilo a som rada, že je koniec marca a vonku skoro 20 stupňov :-)

  18. 5 out of 5

    Gawelleb

    J'ai moins accroché que sur le premier, je l'ai trouvé longuet par moment... heureusement Henry sauve tout à la fin ! Long live him !

  19. 4 out of 5

    Hermien

    Not quite as humorous as the first one but I did enjoy the historical trip. It is always good when books make you Google people and doing that I learned a bit more about British royal history.

  20. 5 out of 5

    NocturnalBlaze

    Un thriller storico ambientato nell'Inghilterra del XII secolo che risulta una lettura d'intrattenimento, scorrevole, adatta per passare piacevolmente un paio di serate, ma che, tutto sommato, non brilla per qualità - specialmente a livello stilistico - né consiglierei in maniera particolare considerando il panorama del genere. Parlando della trama, l'ho trovata a tratti leggermente confusionaria (alcuni passaggi mi sono sembrati poco chiari/inutili ai fini del senso generale della storia), con i Un thriller storico ambientato nell'Inghilterra del XII secolo che risulta una lettura d'intrattenimento, scorrevole, adatta per passare piacevolmente un paio di serate, ma che, tutto sommato, non brilla per qualità - specialmente a livello stilistico - né consiglierei in maniera particolare considerando il panorama del genere. Parlando della trama, l'ho trovata a tratti leggermente confusionaria (alcuni passaggi mi sono sembrati poco chiari/inutili ai fini del senso generale della storia), con il mistero dell'assassinio dell'amante del re che spesso passa in secondo piano, lasciando il posto a vicende che non mi sono parse particolarmente pregnanti. In ogni caso, l'elemento di investigazione è abbastanza piacevole e a tratti riesce ad essere anche interessante, il caso non è scontato e ci si può divertire cercando di scoprire il colpevole e seguendo la protagonista nelle indagini. I personaggi, ad esclusione dell'investigatrice/medico protagonista, poco approfonditi nella caratterizzazione e ho fatto un po' fatica a distinguerne alcuni - avendo così qualche difficoltà nel seguire la prosecuzione delle indagini -, ma ci sono comunque alcuni spunti che mi sono sembrati di qualità, un potenziale che non sempre viene sfruttato a pieno. La protagonista è comunque una donna di carattere, un personaggio particolare e, anche se a volte risulta un poco irritante nei suoi comportamenti, è comunque piacevole vedere una figura femminile alle prese con attività che, inserite nel contesto temporale del romanzo, erano decisamente fuori dal comune per una donna (così come, in generale, la presenza di interessanti personaggi femminili, seppur non sempre approfonditi con la sufficiente abilità). Dal punto di vista storico, l'accuratezza non mi è sembrata un requisito fondamentale e, a parte pochi e necessari dettagli, non viene lasciato molto spazio alla descrizione dell'ambiente o dello stile di vita dell'epoca: forse comprensibile, visto che il focus della vicenda era comunque la parte mistery, ma è comunque qualcosa che mi è mancato nel contesto generale del libro. Infine, un cenno allo stile, il quale, non so se per pecca nella traduzione o perché originariamente tale, risulta spesso fin troppo semplice e colloquiale, con l'inserimento di termini gergali e battute che talvolta suonano completamente stonate. Sicuramente uno stile di scrittura scorrevole, ma non sempre questa caratteristica viene declinata in maniera abile e intelligente. Nel complesso, una lettura okay, nulla di speciale o che rimane particolarmente impresso, ma comunque d'intrattenimento, con elementi piacevoli (un mistero interessante, qualche personaggio femminile degno di nota, un contesto storico che personalmente mi incuriosisce), una lettura estiva senza troppo impegno.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lisa (Harmonybites)

    I dithered about the rating of this one. In some ways I did enjoy this even more than the first book in the series, Mistress of the Art of Death. I loved the portraits of Henry II of England, his queen Eleanor of Aquitaine and his mistress the "Fair" Rosamund. In all those cases they are takes unlike what I'd read of them and made me want to read more about the real history--and I even poked around a little online. That's what good historical fiction does--not only draw you into another world, b I dithered about the rating of this one. In some ways I did enjoy this even more than the first book in the series, Mistress of the Art of Death. I loved the portraits of Henry II of England, his queen Eleanor of Aquitaine and his mistress the "Fair" Rosamund. In all those cases they are takes unlike what I'd read of them and made me want to read more about the real history--and I even poked around a little online. That's what good historical fiction does--not only draw you into another world, but make you want to read more about the reality. However, just a cursory look at what's online revealed more that a few inconsistencies. A lot of the material about Rosamund belongs more to legend than history. There's a reference in the first book (and this one) to Henry having done penance in the past for the murder of Thomas Beckett. That penance was done in 1174. This book is set at the start of the "Great Revolt" of 1173 to 1174 in the immediate aftermath of Rosamund's death (1176). The thing is, can I really mark down a book for taking liberties I wouldn't have even noticed if the book itself hadn't sparked my interest in the real events? Well, a bit, especially when I found the historical fiction aspects of the series of more interest than the romance, mystery or stylistic merits. Yet I still like Adelia, the "mistress of the art of death" at the center of the tale. I liked the characters Franklin surrounds her with. The mystery is in some respects stronger--I didn't guess the murderer quite as easily. It's a gripping and suspenseful tale I consumed as greedily (and mindlessly?) as a bowl of popcorn. So, a light fluffy snack? Despite some macabre aspects, this is certainly less harrowing than the first book that dealt with a serial killer of children, anti-Semitism and the blood libel. I was entertained and do want to read the two other books left in the series. So on the whole I'd say Franklin did a good job.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Marleen

    I love everything Ariana Franklin / Diana Norman writes. Everything. She’s so talented and has a knack for bringing riveting historical fiction come alive. Simply put, Franklin’s books are for me the definition of a captivating read. I’m especially very fond of the characters I meet on the page; they are colorful, quirky, well-fleshed and very human. The Middle-ages are such a dark time, no doubt about it. Here, notwithstanding that the author gives us glimpses of historical reality and we get a I love everything Ariana Franklin / Diana Norman writes. Everything. She’s so talented and has a knack for bringing riveting historical fiction come alive. Simply put, Franklin’s books are for me the definition of a captivating read. I’m especially very fond of the characters I meet on the page; they are colorful, quirky, well-fleshed and very human. The Middle-ages are such a dark time, no doubt about it. Here, notwithstanding that the author gives us glimpses of historical reality and we get a good idea of how horrific those times were, for women especially, she doesn’t write a dark book. No, on the contrary, this is a fictional historical crime novel that foremost brings a sense of adventure, but also entertainment – and the occasional insight into the human kind. The author is a genius when it comes to bringing strong women to the page and making them the center of a story. Adelia is a satisfyingly complex and independent character. She’s wonderful, flaws and all. I like it that there are real historical events and personalities in the “Mistress of the Art of Death” books; it’s like an incentive to learn more about 12th Century Europe. Most of all, I look forward reading more Adelia adventures.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mz. H

    I believe that I enjoyed this book more than the last, perhaps because the characters were already established and so there was less background and more action. Even when they were locked away and snowed in at the abbey, it continued to be entertaining. While these books certainly would not qualify and high literature, they are fun examinations of history and they are, most definitely, historical fiction, which the author readily admits too. I know some other reviewers of the book scoff at the ap I believe that I enjoyed this book more than the last, perhaps because the characters were already established and so there was less background and more action. Even when they were locked away and snowed in at the abbey, it continued to be entertaining. While these books certainly would not qualify and high literature, they are fun examinations of history and they are, most definitely, historical fiction, which the author readily admits too. I know some other reviewers of the book scoff at the apparent incongruities between the role of women historically and the creation of the main character, however, I find the characterization believable by the fact that women have historically found ways to freedom within the confines of law. History has shown, over and over, that women have found ways to both confound and circumnavigate the stifling laws that have held them back, so the character of Mistress Adelia is hardly without credence. Excellent second book and while not wholly believable, certainly a fun romp through a very bloody and dangerous history. Anyone who enjoys a good mystery or historical fiction (without the "romance") will like this book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Alondra

    4 Stars I am loving this series. Here we have Adelia on the case again at Henry's 'request'; to investigate the poisoning of one of his mistresses. Adelia does what she does best; questions, investigates and theorizes. However, when Allies life is threatened, Adelia almost abandons the investigation altogether..... But, she just won't let it rest, and she knows Henry's demands will be enforced, one way or another. So, with bodies piling up and the possibility of not one but two crimes to solve, A 4 Stars I am loving this series. Here we have Adelia on the case again at Henry's 'request'; to investigate the poisoning of one of his mistresses. Adelia does what she does best; questions, investigates and theorizes. However, when Allies life is threatened, Adelia almost abandons the investigation altogether..... But, she just won't let it rest, and she knows Henry's demands will be enforced, one way or another. So, with bodies piling up and the possibility of not one but two crimes to solve, Adelia continues to investigate Rosamund's death. Adelia struggles against mans idea of what a woman is, and what role she should play in society; while trying to do what she was trained to do. Glytha stays feisty and Mansur is still the strong, silent type. We do get more from Henry, which really added more depth to the story. He is a character, alright. Wicked intelligent, forward-thinking, strong, sexy, and completely full of himself. I hope he gets a bigger role. Of course, Rowley has his role, and I hope to encounter more of him in the next book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Patricia Bracewell

    Although 8 years have passed since I read the first book in this series (Mistress of the Art of Death) Franklin nudged my memory of characters and events just enough to allow a smooth re-entry into Adelia's 12th century world. And I very much enjoy the world that Franklin creates. Her heroine Adelia is smart, capable, well-trained but not - refreshingly - some statuesque, untouchable beauty. Franklin reserves that description for Queen Eleanor although, as Adelia observes, even Eleanor is someth Although 8 years have passed since I read the first book in this series (Mistress of the Art of Death) Franklin nudged my memory of characters and events just enough to allow a smooth re-entry into Adelia's 12th century world. And I very much enjoy the world that Franklin creates. Her heroine Adelia is smart, capable, well-trained but not - refreshingly - some statuesque, untouchable beauty. Franklin reserves that description for Queen Eleanor although, as Adelia observes, even Eleanor is something less than fetching when garbed as a man. Engaging central characters (including Eleanor who is not as lovingly portrayed here as in the books of the redoubtable S.K.Penman; Franklin is on Henry's side all the way), a solid mystery, and a wonderfully informed historical backdrop - what's not to like?

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    Review to come.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jennie

    To sum up: Adelia is fiercely independent. Some people die in the book and Adelia probably feels guilty. And she keeps getting called a "doctor" even though they didn't use that term for physicians back in the day (I don't care if Franklin did include a note excusing her use of the term; it's still annoying). I don't know...some other stuff happened, I'm sure, but I didn't notice. I slogged through the first 50 pages, then skipped to the last 50 to see if it got any better. It didn't. Enough alre To sum up: Adelia is fiercely independent. Some people die in the book and Adelia probably feels guilty. And she keeps getting called a "doctor" even though they didn't use that term for physicians back in the day (I don't care if Franklin did include a note excusing her use of the term; it's still annoying). I don't know...some other stuff happened, I'm sure, but I didn't notice. I slogged through the first 50 pages, then skipped to the last 50 to see if it got any better. It didn't. Enough already.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    This was murder mystery (plural) meets historical fiction. So I should have liked it because I love both of those genres, but I didn't care for this one. Everyone seemed angry all the time and they weren't very like-able. They were constantly criticizing, scoffing, self-righteous, etc. They all seemed like the same person. Also, the women were described as nuns or whores. It was always either/or. I wish this had a little more dimension to it. I really wanted to be pulled in, but the more I got t This was murder mystery (plural) meets historical fiction. So I should have liked it because I love both of those genres, but I didn't care for this one. Everyone seemed angry all the time and they weren't very like-able. They were constantly criticizing, scoffing, self-righteous, etc. They all seemed like the same person. Also, the women were described as nuns or whores. It was always either/or. I wish this had a little more dimension to it. I really wanted to be pulled in, but the more I got to know the characters, the more I was glad I was on the outside.

  29. 4 out of 5

    HBalikov

    Somewhat slower paced than the first because much of it takes place in a convent. Murders compete with the mores of the cloister. If you are interested in the historical period of Henry II's England this is no problem. Otherwise, you had better not take it on summer holiday. An interesting sidelight is the plot's investment in the status and tribulations of being a woman of any class at this period of time.

  30. 5 out of 5

    KA

    I was assured there was no animal cruelty in this book. But a cat was boiled alive on page 10. I don't usually rate vindictively, but I'm going to in this case, 'cause I'm just too pissed off. This crap is unnecessary; in both books, the plot and characterization could easily have done without these descriptions of the torture of live animals.

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