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The Serpent's Tale (Mistress of the Art of Death #2)

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  10,057 Ratings  ·  980 Reviews
The follow-up to "Mistress of the Art of Death"- in the national bestselling series hailed as "the medieval answer to Kay Scarpetta and the "CSI" detectives."
When King Henry II's mistress is found poisoned, suspicion falls on his estranged queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine. The king orders Adelia Aguilar, expert in the science of death, to investigate-and hopefully stave off c
ebook, 416 pages
Published January 1st 2008 by Berkley Books
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Beverly But Jacques escaped. He stole the King's horse and rode off. Perhaps to play again another day?
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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
Aug 28, 2008 Donald rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
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
Mar 06, 2009 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Who knew one could find murder mysteries placed in twelfth century England? A very palatable way to learn history.
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,
Jun 24, 2009 Meredith rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 20, 2013 Wench rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Lauren 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
Jan 06, 2009 Nicole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
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
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 ...more
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.
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
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Mar 10, 2014 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Historical Mysteries
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 ...more
Aug 24, 2010 Marleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mz. H
Jun 19, 2011 Mz. H rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 09, 2013 Alondra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
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
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 ...more
Dec 25, 2011 Felicia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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)
Feb 04, 2013 Jennie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
 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!
Jul 05, 2012 Kellyann rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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.
Tamora Pierce
Apr 02, 2009 Tamora Pierce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, adult, mystery
Oops! I put the review for MISTRESS OF THE ART OF DEATH here. Now I'll have to go and re-read THE SERPENT'S TALE to review it correctly--what a chore! ;-)
Pamela Mclaren
A king's mistress is poisoned and his wife suspected of the crime is enough to bring Adelia Aguilar into another mystery and into the royal intrigues afoot. Adele's lover and the father of her child, Bishop Rowley Picot, brings her in to investigate how the mistress was killed.

Ariana Franklin has once again recreated a medieval world that is fascinating to read, characters that are believable and smart and written in a manner that bring it all to life in the mind's eye. This is a story that is a
Jul 29, 2008 Spuddie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
#2 Adelia Aguilar "Mistress of the Art of Death" historical mystery. The Bishop (Adelia's former lover Rowley, who is also the father of her child Allie) summons Adelia to investigate the death of one of King Henry's mistresses, Rosamond. It's being made to appear that Queen Eleanor (recently escaped from her imprisonment) has done the deed, and Rowley is anxious to get to Rosamond's manor before the king so he can hopefully divert an all-out war, which is sure to ensue if Henry believes Eleanor ...more
Surprisingly, this book is slightly better than its predecessor, Mistress of the Art of Death . Since the first introduction with the unconventional character of Adelia was done in the first book, in this sequel there are also less scenes in which she shows her disregard for status distinctions and traditional gender roles. However, her resentment towards men and their oppression of women is still alive and well, at least in her private reflections, and although it still influences her actions ...more
May 23, 2012 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Serpent's Tale by Ariana Franklin is the second book in the Mistress of the Art of Death Series, it takes you back into the world of Adelia, who is a young female doctor in England who specializes in the study of the death, and specifically for King Henry the Second, in how they were murdered. In this book she is summoned to find out who murdered the King's favorite mistress "Rosamund the Fair", according to popular rumor it is Eleanor the King's wife who is desperately jealous of the woman, ...more
Jamie Collins
I enjoyed much of this book. The writing is quite good, particularly the dialogue. As with the first book, the author does a great job with the historical setting, depicting life during a harsh medieval English winter. I continue to enjoy the main characters. (The recap of the first book seemed unnecessarily detailed, but perhaps that's just because I read it not long ago.)

Unfortunately, the mystery centers around the legend that Eleanor of Aquitaine poisoned her husband's famous mistress, Rosam
Adelia picks up a nemesis in Book 2 that will, I suspect, come back later in the series. She also develops a somewhat better working relationship with Henry II by the end of the book. Henry continues to shine - I liked the hypotheses that the fallout from Becket's murder taught him patience - a cruel patience, but still, patience.

Eleanor... she doesn't thunder off the page the way she should. Eleanor comes off as rather spoiled and self involved. Plenty of time is spent discussing the "Amazon" s
Aug 22, 2010 Jillian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was definitely a satisfying sequel to Mistress of the Art of Death . Adelia remains her spunky self, and somehow she manages to keep her wits about her in some really grotesque and trying moments. She is smart and perceptive and just so...uniquely herself. I'd love to put her in a room with a couple of other main characters (and authors too for that matter) so she could teach them how to be THEMSELVES and be CONSISTENT (ummm...Jessica Darling? You're first on my list.)

In addition to loving
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Madison Mega-Mara...: The Serpent's Tale by Ariana Franklin 1 2 Sep 13, 2013 06:39PM  
  • The Difficult Saint (Catherine LeVendeur, #6)
  • Petty Treason (Sarah Tolerance, #2)
  • Silent on the Moor (Lady Julia Grey, #3)
  • Terra Incognita (Gaius Petreius Ruso, #2)
  • When Gods Die (Sebastian St. Cyr, #2)
  • Anatomy of Murder (Crowther and Westerman, #2)
  • An Unholy Alliance (Matthew Bartholomew, #2)
  • Veil of Lies (Crispin Guest, #1)
  • Cruel as the Grave (Justin de Quincy, #2)
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)
  • Grave Goods (Mistress of the Art of Death, #3)
  • A Murderous Procession (Mistress of the Art of Death, #4)

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“A daughter,' Rowley scooped up the child and held her high. The baby blinked from sleep and crowed with him. 'Any fool can have a son,' he said. 'It takes a man to conceive a daughter.” 44 likes
“I yield to nobody in my admiration for God, but he's no good in bed.” 23 likes
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