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Relics of the Dead (Mistress of the Art of Death #3)

4.09  ·  Rating Details  ·  8,224 Ratings  ·  733 Reviews
1176. The monks of Glastonbury have discovered two skeletons buried in their graveyard - one is tall, like that of a warrior, the other small and delicate. Are these the remains of King Arthur and Guinevere?

On hearing of the discovery, King Henry II demands evidence that the legendary Arthur is dead - he needs to stop his belligerent Welsh subjects believing that their Onc
Audio CD
Published September 6th 2010 by Chivers Audiobooks (first published January 1st 2009)
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Lucijem Not really but it helps. The main characters do have relationships that develop throughout the books but it's not really necessary to read all of…moreNot really but it helps. The main characters do have relationships that develop throughout the books but it's not really necessary to read all of them. (less)
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Oct 05, 2014 Katyana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really like this series. I love the characters, and particularly Adelia. I love the pacing, the mysteries, the historical setting. I love Henry II, even though he drives me batty sometimes.

What I really don't love is Rowley. In previous books, I sort of managed to put up with him - he manages to be less annoying as the plot thickens, and he generally isn't around much before then.

The reason I dislike Rowley is this: he doesn't love Adelia. Not really. He hates all the parts of her that she che
First Sentence: “And God was angry with His people of Somerset so that, in the year of Our Lord 1154. pm the day after the feast of Saint Stephen, He caused an earthquake that it might punish them for their sins…” Thus wrote Brother Caradoc in Saint Michael’s chapel in top of Glastonbury Tor, to which he’d scrambled, gasping and sobbing, so as to escape the devastation that God with his earthquake had wrought on everything below it.

King Henry II is fighting to suppress the rebellious Welsh, who
Mar 30, 2009 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The third and latest in the "Mistress of the Art of Death" series, historical mysteries by Ariana Franklin (aka Diana Norman) set in late 12th century England, is the best of the lot. Mistress of the Art of Death, the first book, was well done. The author stumbled a bit with the second, The Serpent's Tale, but she has found her stride with the current offering. Set in Glastonbury and wrapped in the mists of Avalon, the work is a must for anyone besotted with the Matter of Britain. Adelia, the mi ...more
Grave Goods
3.5 Stars

The historical background is fascinating despite one or two glaring inconsistencies (that are ultimately explained in the author's note), but the investigation into the corpses believed to be those of Arthur and Guinevere is not as engrossing as in the previous books.

There are a number of mysteries interspersed throughout the book: Who are the unidentified corpses in the Glastonbury graveyard? Who set fire to the abbey? What happened to Adelia's friend Emma and her child? Eve
An enjoyable medieval mystery, the third in this series. The setting is great, and I like Franklin's writing very much.

The king's appearances were fun, as always, although the bit at the end where Adelia (view spoiler) was a little over the top. We are already quite aware that the author thinks Henry II was a really good king. She left Eleanor alone this time, thank goodness, with only one dig about the queen's jealousy.

I like all of these characters,
Jul 20, 2015 Alondra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
4 Stars

Book Blurb
England, 1176. Beautiful, tranquil Glastonbury Abbey—one of England's holiest sites, and believed by some to be King Arthur's sacred Isle of Avalon—has been burned almost to the ground. The arsonist remains at large, but the fire has uncovered something even more shocking: two hidden skeletons, a man and a woman. The skeletons' height and age send rumors flying- are the remains those of Arthur and Guinevere?

King Henry II hopes so. Struggling to put down a rebellion in Wales, whe
J. Else
Jan 16, 2013 J. Else rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is actually the third book in a series, but I could not tell. While there are references to the main character’s past, this is no more than any stand-alone novel would elude to, which to my mind this book truly could be. The main protagonist, Adelia, is a type of medieval forensic pathologist trained at a school in Salerno (which was actually the world’s first medical school). Her character is strong but vulnerable and even throws up a heartfelt prayer here and there. She does not discount ...more
Flora Bateman
This is the third book in the Mistress of the Art of Death series. I was generous rounding this up to 4 stars I would actually give it a 3.5 but because I loved the ending I rounded up. This book is much like the other two. Adelia is given an almost impossible task for the time period in speaking with the dead thru forensics. And this time she is dealing with what is believed to be the bones of King Arthur and Guinevere. There are definite mysteries within mysteries and I was certainly kept inte ...more
Gruesome title, but I enjoy entering the life of Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar, Henry II’s reluctant "mistress of the art of death”, who reads bones to determine how their owner came to grief. This is the third in the series and I’d felt something was missing in the second that had been there in the first, but this one was a good read again. Actually I listened to this one, narrated by Diana Bishop, and her accent was pleasant to listen to - and perhaps that added an extra element to my “ ...more
Jun 12, 2015 Erin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Really 1.5 stars, but not worth rounding up. I listened to the WHOLE THING in my car on audiobook.

Why did I listen to the whole thing? Good question. As my hatred for the insipid and whiny main character grew, I almost stopped listening. But then after I while, I found I enjoyed my eye-rolls every time the character said "Oh Ally! Oh Rolly! Oh...yada yada yada!" It was cathartic for me to yell at the book on CD. Lots of f-bombs, who cares, and STFU!!!!!

The bottom line: the writing was poor, the
Nov 25, 2011 Colleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. I saw the Arturus bit coming a mile off (if/when you've read it you'll understand) but the rest of the conclusions were nice surprises. Or not so nice. They hit me in the gut because a lot of the things involved are heartbreaking for me.
This author has an amazing writing style and manages to keep this in line with previous novels without giving away too many spoilers. It has made me want to read the first two and the fourth to see how we got to this point and where they go from here. Brilli
Aug 18, 2011 Sariah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a great little mystery/historical fiction. The writing was fun and the characters were all likeable. I didn't know this was part of a series (although I had to wonder as they kept referring to things that seemed way to complicated for just a "oh this happened to this character once"), but it stood on it's own quite well. Adelia is comissioned by Henry II to investigate some found skeletons that are believed to be those of Arthur and Guinevere. Throw in some murders, feudal laws, Plantag ...more
Tamora Pierce
Forced into flight from her beloved fens, Arelia, the forensic physician, is ordered by Henry II to discover if remains recently uncovered at Glastonbury are those of Arthur and Guenevere. Searching for a missing friend who was on her way to claim a property, coming to the town and abbey which has burned to the ground, Arelia and her household are up to their necks in trouble. She and her Saracen manservant Mansur, who masquerades as the true doctor since the time and place forbid a woman to pra ...more
I do so very much enjoy this series. The stories are well-written; I like the main characters and the plot is always interesting and a page - turner. I enjoy a historical mystery and also like mysteries set in the UK for some reason. Maybe it's just the history and culture that draws me. This story revolves around Henry II's task to Adelia to ascertain if the bones discovered after the fire at the Abbey at Glastonbury are those of Alfred and Guinnevere. Adelia and her friends journey to Glastonb ...more
Joyce Lagow
Apr 20, 2010 Joyce Lagow rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
3rd in the Adelia Aguilar of Salerno series.[return][return]Adelia is in trouble. Even with the fiction of Mansour, her Saracen bodyguard, as a physician, the quacks of Cambridge are losing enough money to have both Mansour and Adelia hauled before a court on charges of heresy and possibly witchcraft. Prior Gregory, Adelia s true friend, manages to convince Adelia, Mansour and the ever-loyal Gyltha along with 4 year old Allie to escape. They take refuge with Lady Emma Wolvercote, who made her fi ...more
I truly enjoy the characters in this series and while the first couple were so interesting as I progressed I found myself classifying succeeding volumes as cozy medieval mysteries. Adelia is a wonderfully independent and intelligent woman. What I find difficult to understand is why she is so emotional. Her relationships with Rowley and the king are tempestuous and almost always fraught with conflict even though she loves Rowley and respects the king. I quite enjoy the conversations with the king ...more
This book, third in the series of historical mysteries about a woman physician/forensic pathologist in Henry II's England (yes! really!), was a perfectly fine entry in the series but just didn't blow me away. Of course, the book of Franklin's that *did* blow me away was a stand-alone, City of Shadows, which was also historical but set in 1920s and 30s Berlin. I wish she'd write, or the publishers would publish, more like that.

Brief synopsis: Henry II is having trouble with the Welsh and other C
Donna BookWorm
May 26, 2011 Donna BookWorm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Grave Goods by Arianna Franklin- It was EXCELLENT! I found it on sale at a bookstore for like 30% off (winning!). Anyway the story is about a forensic doctor from the time of Henry Plantagenet (Henry II) and he sends her off to Glastonbury after he hears rumor that a dying monk had a vision of King Arthur’s burial. When she gets there she finds two skeletons, the smaller one missing it’s pelvic bones. She’s supposed to verify that the skeletons are indeed Arthur and Guinevere so the Welsh will s ...more
P.J. Cadavori
May 31, 2013 P.J. Cadavori rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Relics of the Dead: Mistress of the Art of Death 3 is a story about King Arthur, Glastonbury and the west country. The first sentence sets you up beautifully....”And God was angry with His people of Somerset, in the year of Our Lord 1154....”. In Glastonburytwoskeletons have been discovered. Could they be the remains of King Arthur and Guinevere? King Henry II summons his Wise Woman (but she has to be careful as heresy and witchcraft are everywhere)to examine the remains and give her assessment. ...more
Mar 13, 2013 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recentlyread
Despite Dr. Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar's more annoying traits of having a very short fuse and seldom seeing the forest for the trees, she makes for a fascinating and unique heroine. Some readers might complain about Franklin's anachronisms too, but she defends them convincingly at the end of the book, and I don't expect to read a NOVEL (a modern form) that depicts characters speaking in some combination of medieval church Latin, somewhat creolized Norman French, and various vulgar dial ...more
Michael K Martin
Jul 23, 2012 Michael K Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was just looking for an audiobook to tide me over a trip, and I ran across this one. The title intrigued me, and any series entitled "A Mistress in the Art of Death" has to be given a try.

The main character is Adelia Aguilar, a lady trained as a medical doctor in Salerno, and wandering the English countryside with a Saracen protector, who masquerades as a doctor himself so that Adelia can negotiate her way through 1176 Glastonbury.

This book had me hooked from the beginning, where a bishop and
Jul 30, 2012 Lin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My two favourite genres – historial and crime – combined. I’ve enjoyed this book the most in the series so far. The story of Adelia and Rowley (I’m even a little in love with him) continues. Henry II asks Adelia to invesigate bones and this again tips her into not just one mystery but several. Are these the bones of Arthur and Guinevere, who burnt the abbey down, what’s going on at the Inn, where is Emma and her entourage? I really appreciated the way the author informs us a great deal about lif ...more
This is the third book in the Mistress of the Art of Death Series. This historical fiction series takes place during the Middle Ages and the time of King Henry II. The main character is from Solerno and is a trained physician with a specialty in autopsies. Her skills are disguised due to the role of women in the middle ages and she travels as an "interpreter" for a Saracen, her childhood protector. King Henry II engages her skills whenever there is a death that has political implications to the ...more
Ed Klein
Dec 05, 2015 Ed Klein rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: somerset-library
I sometimes like to read books that are debut volumes or by an author who is dead ? You can continue to stay current with the former , and finish all the books by the latter . Sadly Ariana Franklin belongs to the latter group ; but I'll probably read all her fiction volumes .
Sep 07, 2015 Betty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Listened to it as an audio book and really enjoyed it. Would have added another 1/2 star if I could.
Lillian Carl
I never finished the first book in the series, disliking a couple of Franklin's stylistic tics, and only picked up this one when I saw that it's based on the historical "discovery" of the bodies of Arthur and Guinevere at Glastonbury Abbey in the late 12th century. Adelia, the main character, is a female doctor and (as we'd say today) medical examiner born, raised, and trained in Sicily. In England, she has to hide behind her Arab companion, pretending that he's the doctor and she's his assista ...more
Mark Robertson
Sep 06, 2014 Mark Robertson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This tale of murder set in the late 12th century brings in a good bit of history regarding Henry II, a man the author evidently greatly admires, along with a good dose of Arthurian lore. There's plenty of killing going on in the Welsh and English countryside, both by Henry's army, which is busy putting down Welsh insurrection as well as by highway men and other less likely suspects.

Adelia Aquilar, a doctor and anatomist who uses her knowledge to investigate crime, is summoned by Henry to look i
Sep 03, 2014 Ron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Even in the 1170s, King Arthur was a powerful mythic figure, hailed by both Welsh and English as the great predecessor leader whose legend would inspire them to new heights. An earthquake at the great abbey of Glastonbury, reputed to be the site of Camelot (along with a bunch of others) splits open the burial ground at a propitious time: three figures who have bodies to bury lower them deep into the fissure, which aftershocks close. A Welsh captive who heard of the event tells Henry II, who has ...more
Laura Edwards
Ms. Franklin's stories always pull me in, although I'm left dissatisfied at the end somehow. And I still don't care for Rowley. To me, he serves little purpose. The only times I ever view Adelia as a pathetic character are the parts where she is pondering her feelings for Rowley. I have absolutely no idea what she sees in him. Just because he fathered her child doesn't make him worthy of her devotion, especially since he tends to ignore said child. I enjoy her scenes with Henry II much more. The ...more
Aug 17, 2009 Phair rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Listened to the unabridged audio version. Kate Reading does a great job with the voices, especially the Welsh and country folk accents.
Not my favorite of the three. I guessed some major plot points early on but it was still good. I did enjoy the whole King Arthur's grave aspect as one of my favorite books from childhood was about that find (Hidden Treasure of Glaston by Eleanor Jewett). The ending sets us up for a truly threatening turn of events in the next book. Can't wait.
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Ariana Franklin was the pen name of British writer Diana Norman. A former journalist, Norman had written several critically acclaimed biographies and historical novels. She lived in Hertfordshire, England, with her husband, the film critic Barry Norman.

The Death Maze (UK) is published as The Serpent's Tale in the US.
Relics of the Dead (UK) is published as Grave Goods in the US.
The Assassin'
More about Ariana Franklin...

Other Books in the Series

Mistress of the Art of Death (4 books)
  • Mistress of the Art of Death (Mistress of the Art of Death, #1)
  • The Serpent's Tale (Mistress of the Art of Death, #2)
  • A Murderous Procession (Mistress of the Art of Death, #4)

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