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The Apothecary Rose (Owen Archer #1)

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3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  2,521 ratings  ·  90 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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Lorena
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
Elaine
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
Stef Rozitis
I read this book expecting a mystery/crime story and as a representative of that group it must be said that it kind of sucked. The story itself was predictable, and didn't even pretend very hard at being either a puzzle or even a psychological view of a crime (not that I like those). So really, the story was a romance novel featuring a crime. The romance itself irritated me, while I liked the character of Mistress Wilton (I don;t remember her name and NONE of the reviewers mention it which is te ...more
HBalikov
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
Heather
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.

As
...more
Renee
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
John Lee
I think that it was a recommendation from Goodreads that put me on to this one. Certainly I hadnt heard of the author before.

I enjoyed the tale and the authors style in telling it. It is certainly well researched but, unlike a lot of historical fiction, it does not dwell on one particular aspect of the period. They are mentioned and left. One can think of authors who describe every course of each meal or each item of clothing.

As the author says in the notes at the end, she treads a line between
...more
Jenni
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.
Kris
The book is well written and well paced. The story never bogs down in too much detail and the action progresses smoothly from one scene to the next. The characters are decently rounded and extremely interesting, particularly the villian, who is almost shower worthingly obsessed. The actions of the characters at the end keeps the suspense nicely ratcheted up and the pages turning.
Nick
Terrific, and a total surprise. I bought this book because I like mysteries set in the medieval/middle ages time period. I saw it advertised on Amazon as a recommendation based on the fact that I read the Ellis Peters Brother Cadfael books. It was also free, so I figured what the heck, if it is terrible no big loss. Well, not only was it not terrible, but it was a really great read. I put it right up there with the first Cadfael book and the Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. Ms. Robb captured the ...more
Claire
Much of the drama in this book would have been averted if the actors in it had taken the time to determine whether or not the people they tried to kill did, in fact, die. Check your work, people.
Lisa
This is the first in the Owen Archer series of mysteries. The plot is quite complex. I enjoyed the introduction to Archer and especially to Mistress Wilton, the apothecary. This may be an attempt to cash in on the Brother Cadfael series, and I didn't think it was as well done as that series, but it is only the first book, and good enough for me to think that I will read the second at some point. The book lacks the historical context that the Brother Cadfael and Sister Frevisse mysteries incorpor ...more
Nick
Though I first encountered historical mysteries through the tv show based on Ellis Peters' Cadfael, and have since come to quite enjoy those of Peters' books I have read, my long running love affair with Historical Mysteries began here, with Candace Robb and Owen Archer, in 14th century York. There are perhaps better historical mystery writers than Robb - I am a massive fan of Susanna Gregory's Bartholemew series for instance - but rereading this book takes me right back to that first time, disc ...more
Anne-Elizabeth Straub
I would like to have given The Apothecary Rose a "four minus" rather than a four rating.

For me, it rests securely in the "light reading" rather than in the "important literature " category.

That having been said, I did enjoy it a great deal! The author has a firm grasp of the period. (It likely does help to have a PhD in Medieval and Anglo-Saxon Literature.) She also does a lovely job of characterization.

The characters of the women were at least as fully realized as those of the men and people
...more
Chris
http://bojnberry.ca/~berry/blog/?p=36... 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
Lisa
What does a welsh archer do when he loses an eye and no longer trusts his ability as a soldier? He volunteers to look into a mysterious murder which might be more complicated than it first appears.
This is the first in the Owen Archer series, set in England during the turbulent reign of Edward III. After losing his eye, Owen is trying to reinvent himself, but at the same time he must navigate sticky political realities as his old liege dies and he must choose who to serve.
And on top of it all,
...more
Michael
One of best historical novels I've read recently

The Apothecary Rose was a surprise. I have visited York several times, and reading this was like another visit, but through a time tunnel. I found the characters unique and I was intrigued by the chance to peek behind the curtain and see a bit about what life in the Abbey and monastery was like, as well as learn something about Medieval medical practices.
Bob
Owen Archer was a Welch Bowman until he was wounded and lost an eye, now he functions as "detective" for the King's Chancellor/Archbishop. In this tale has taken the position of an apprentice to an apothecary
to discover who has caused a relative of the Archbishop and another man to be poisoned. With the apothecary fallen ill he is working with his younger wife and it was her husband who provided the medicine that poisoned the men. Good medieval mystery set in England in the 1300s.
Jeanne
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.
Kristine Jared
Murder and intrigue in old England.

When the retired soldier, Owen Archer, is asked by England's most powerful cleric to investigate theme death of his nephew, he dare not refuse. But when he meets the apothecary' apprentice his loyalties are tested and his life is in danger. A great old English murder mystery.
Kathy
I may read the additional books in the series, but no promises. There was a great deal of repetitive accounts, thoughts, reasoning...as if to reach a numbers goal of pages? I won't know until I read the next in the series. I suppose I am impatient since I do not wish to be told something more than once.
Janhavi
This is the firs of Owen Archer mysteries that I have read. The writing is good with characters, places, plots described wonderfully. Although it felt repetitive with the content at times.
With this book you know the "what" and "who" in the beginnning, the mystery is "why" and "how", different from other mysteries I have read before.

Shirley
Really enjoyed this book despite thinking it had too many characters to keep track of at the beginning. Very curious to see where it will continue. The historical is not heavy handed or detracting from the meat of the mystery. Characters are interesting and well developed and I already care what happens to them. The villain was very awful and yet well crafted enough that I feel sorry for him.
Mark Stone
Would that I could give this book ten stars. Terrific characterization, wonderful story, and a good mystery, as adeptly written as the Sister Fidelma stories. Will definitely be checking out the remaining tales of Owen Archer.
Argum
Owen Archer is Captain of the Archers for the old Duke of Lancaster, John of Gaunt's father in law, but must find new work after a man rejected his mercy and Owen lost an eye. He ends up well educated and well trained as a spy who the Archbishop of York employs after the Duke dies. Two deaths, including his wayward ward, have occurred at an abbey in York and to satisfy his conscience he wants to know what happened. Buried secrets are discovered in trying to understand what led to these deaths. F ...more
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
Joy
This started me reading the whole series, even when I had to buy European printings because it wasn't issued in the US.
Deirdre
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
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2622364
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...

Other Books in the Series

Owen Archer (10 books)
  • The Lady Chapel (Owen Archer, #2)
  • The Nun's Tale (Owen Archer, #3)
  • The King's Bishop (Owen Archer, #4)
  • The Riddle of St. Leonard's (Owen Archer, #5)
  • A Gift of Sanctuary (Owen Archer, #6)
  • A Spy for the Redeemer (Owen Archer, #7)
  • The Cross-Legged Knight (Owen Archer, #8)
  • The Guilt of Innocents (Owen Archer, #9)
  • A Vigil of Spies (Owen Archer, #10)
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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