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The Apothecary Rose (Owen Archer, #1)
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The Apothecary Rose (Owen Archer #1)

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  2,107 ratings  ·  63 reviews
Once the king's captain of archers, now he must penetrate a poisoner's secrets....Christmastide, 1363-and, at an abbey in York, two pilgrims die mysteriously dead of an herbal remedy. Suspicious, the Archbishop sends for Owen Archer, a Welshman with the charm of the devil, who's lost one eye to the wars in France and must make a new career as an honest spy.Masquerading as...more
Paperback, 370 pages
Published July 11th 1994 by Arrow Books (first published 1993)
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I marked the read date as July, however, I've read this one several times. The entire Owen Archer series is phenomenal, excellent stories from beginning to end, with characters who are neither all bad nor all good, just a perfect blend of both to make them human and real.

The attention to historical detail is wonderful, although their ideas of 'cures' can sometimes make one cringe in the modern world. Unlike many other mystery books, you aren't kept in suspense as to who did it, for you know righ...more
There were aspects of this book that I found very enjoyable...the way the city of York was brought to life as almost another character in the book, for example. Also, this is one of those mysteries where you know immediately WHO did it, but the hero does not, and must work at discovering both who and why. Those types of mysteries are often tricky, because there is a danger the reader will grow bored waiting for the detective to catch on. I wasn't terribly bored with this one, but I found the her...more
I like historical novels as you can see if you search my reviews. Some of the best are series by authors such as Forster, O'Brian and Cornwell. Historical mystery writers have a particular challenge and some, such as Pargeter and Saylor, have mastered it. Candace Robb recognizes that and articulates it as follows: "Writing a historical mystery novel requires the author to wear three hats, novelist, historian and mystery writer. The novelist guards the integrity of the form, the growth of the mai...more
The book starts off by setting the stage – introducing the characters that will soon be suspects and having the murder actually take place. It’s one of the few mysteries I’ve read that began in this manner. Most books start by introducing the main character. This is not most books.

Because of how the story begins, the reader spends a good portion of the book knowing things that the main character hasn’t figured out yet. However, Owen is quick and he figures things out before the halfway point.

I had to buy this book in paper format, because there is no ebook version. So that was a downer. I did get bored about 3/4 of the way through. I think she is a great writer (the book was well written) but the plot kinda sucked. I thought it was going to be a mystery. We found out who committed the murder at the beginning of the book and did not really find out the why until the end and it was extremely anti-climatic. Not sure if I will go for the second one, since I have to order these books in...more
I really liked this book and am anxious to read more of the series! Good mystery plot woven into the medieval historical setting. I like how the author presents a story that transports the reader back 700 years but bridges to modern understanding. In other words, just enough historical flavoring without confusing me! Highly recommended for those who enjoy the historical mystery genre.
Chris the link, and copied the text here...[return][return][return]The Apothecary Rose is a mystery set in 1300s England, York to be exact. It follows our hero, a half blind ex-archer who is employed by the Archbishop of Canterbury to discover why and how one of his wards had died. There was foul play afoot, and Archer has to discover it, as well as gain the trust of the female apothecary that he is using as a front.[return][return]This book was interesting eno...more
A great light read. Owen Archer lost his eye in an unfortunate accident and no longer wants to be Captain of the archers. This is the first book of the series. It isn't really a mystery because we know at the beginning who killed the pilgrims. The why is a pretty interesting book. The characters seem believable. I'll read more of this series.
Sandra Strange
Medieval mystery. I've read another of this series, featuring a master at longbow who must give up his vocation because he loses an eye and cannot see who's sneaking up on him on his bad side, though he practices to regain his skill at fighting and bow. As agent to a powerful archbishop, he must investigate the death of the man's ward in York, and chooses to do so by apprenticing to the wife of a master apothecary who is implicated in two deaths and now dying. The story is mystery, thriller, and...more
This started me reading the whole series, even when I had to buy European printings because it wasn't issued in the US.
Owen Archer is a little at a loose end because of losing an eye and by a man he trusted, and had saved. He is dispached to investigate the death of two men and is sent to be undercover as one of the most likely suspect's apprentice. There he finds the suspect dying and his wife, Lucie, in charge. A much younger and quite pretty wife that Owen finds himself drawn to.

Owen is in a bind because a lot of the clues point at Lucie, or at her husband and he is conflicted over all of this.

I liked the cha...more
Russell Collins
I really enjoyed the first in the Owen Archer series. Set in 1393 in York. Having stayed just in York last May, it was wonderful to reconnect with York through fiction.
Larry Bowman
Not just a good writer, she has a good understanding of the place and time that she writes about (14th century England). These are not books so much about the kings and Dukes and Aristocrats of the time, she gets into the everyday characters and lets you get to know them-such as Magda Goodby the midwife, herbalist, surgeon, et al. for the commoners in the area (around York). She takes care of the poor, (and takes care of the indiscretions of the rich when they don't want anyone to know about it)...more
Rachel Amphlett
I would have given this first novel in the Owen Archer 4 stars, but sadly the lack of a final edit meant there were some silly annoying mistakes which kept appearing... best example is the use of the phrase "burn in hell" to curse an adversary, which actually appears in the ebook version as "bum in hell"... oh dear...

Will buy the second novel in the series to see how the characters develop... not as gripping as the CJ Sansom "Shardlake" historical novels, but a good introduction to a potential n...more
This was my first attempt at a Candace Robb novel and I really enjoyed it. There is some assumed knowledge of Medieval England but I got through that by looking up a few words and idioms and clergy related terms.

It was the third book in a row that I have read that was a mystery but the first mystery I have ever read set in the 14th century. It was a very quick and easy read for the most part but I thought that the plot was well developed and the mystery unfolded nicely at the end without too ma...more
Pamela Hofman
I've read this book a few times and it has become a "comfort book." It's the genre I really love, i.e. medieval mystery in a continuing series. This is the first one in the series and I really enjoyed it. It has engaging characters, including a feminist lead. I don't know how accurate this would be for the time, but it was great to read and the author does attempt to put it in context. Ellis Peters, Margaret Frazer and Jeri Westerson fans will enjoy this series.
Scott L.
Very enjoyable first book in the Owen Archer series. The clues to the mystery were not well-hidden; yet reading this as historical fiction that also just happens to be a mystery makes that point rather moot. The characters are well developed and, for the most part, likable in context. I recommend this book as a beginning to a historical mystery fiction series: it will be interesting to see where Robb takes Archer and the rest of the characters from this point.
P.d.r. Lindsay
This is the first in a popular series. It was a bit too much of a romance for me but it's a good readable story, with interesting characters and an exciting plot. Candace Robb writes well, does her research but her York isn't the one I know.

As a Mediaeval mystery it's a good read for people who like 'em. I have to admit I am not a fan of the Mediaeval period but Candace Robb does give the reader lots of details and an exciting yarn to read.
Characters set in plague and church ruled are carefully placed in believable mundane life. Personalities and petty motives lie behind acts both kind and horrid. Characters usually omitted as main roles emerge as important for the community, though not long remembered historically. People rise to the needs of their society despite personal doubts and obstacles. I remain intrigued by Candace Robb's interweaving of character and plot.
Henrik Schunk
This book reads more like medieval soap opera than a mystery book, with handsome men being longed for by the women and the clerical boys falling in love for each other. Full of cliches and stereotypes. I would strongly advise against reading it and look for some more serious and in-depth historical fiction. I would not even consider this "historical fiction" but a teenage love story with a historical twist at best. Stay away from it
Beth Tedford
Another great medieval mystery series. This is the first book in the Owen Archer series. The series takes place in York and the Owen is a former archer for the Duke of Lancaster. He heads to York to work for the Archbishop, ends up as an apprentice to a apothecary, and falls in love with the wife after the apothecary dies. The story telling is well done & like the Cadfael series you learn a lot about herbs & their healing properties.
I liked the Brother Cadfael series on PBS so I thought I'd give this a try. It was similar in setting and feeling. Two mysterious deaths are investigated by a 14th century version of an undercover agent. For me, the background, lives and beliefs of the time were more intersting than the mystery. But I found the author kept repeating the same points and history over and over again which slowed down the story and the pacing.
My friend Louise recommended this one to me many moons ago. I really enjoyed both the characters and the plot-line in this medieval mystery. Owen Archer is a fascinating character, a former Captain of the Archers who is wounded and resigns his post and becomes a spy then sleuth. All the the great historical details really made the setting come alive. I'm sorely tempted to go out and find the next in the series.
I gave this a generous 3. It's a silly safe boring mystery. It is a smooth easy read that loses energy after the first hundred pages. The characters have very modern issues and the clergy have very modern guilt over their timeless flaws. I won't follow the series any further, but thanks for the two day mindless break.
This book wasn't really a whodunnit, so much as a whytheydunnit. It's pretty obvious early on who committed the crimes (not being snarky here, it's really plain to see.) I can't decide how much I liked that. On the other hand, I'm planning to track down the next book, so it obviously didn't put me off too badly.
Murder mystery set in 1363 AD York featuring, monks, knights, apothecaries, and tavern keeps. Liked the atmospheric setting . The story seems resolved and then it isn't. First in a series featuring a wounded former captain of archers in his new life as investigating detective for the Lord Chancellor of England
more of a mystery than historical fiction. took a bit to get into it, but once I got hooked (half way in), I went through the rest pretty quickly. Overall, I'm curious to check out book 2 of the series to see where the author takes the characters...but I'm not sure whether I would continue on after that.
Own is an interesting character. And Anselm is fully creepy, but the transitions between viewpoints were often abrupt and jarring. Good story, but not add week told as it could have been.
And really, they end up on the dirt in the garden for their first?? Really?
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AKA Emma Campion or Candace M. Robb
My novels are inspired by my study of the late Middle Ages in Northern Europe. I write crime novels under my own name, and historical novels about women in King Edward III's court under the pen name Emma Campion. I live in the beautiful Pacific NW, but frequently spend stretches of time in England, Scotland and Wales doing research and exploring. I have two ongoi...more
More about Candace Robb...
A Gift of Sanctuary (Owen Archer, #6) The Lady Chapel (Owen Archer, #2) The King's Bishop (Owen Archer, #4) The Riddle of St. Leonard's (Owen Archer, #5) The Nun's Tale (Owen Archer, #3)

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