Franklin's writing is very well done and enjoyable. She paints a vivid picture and tells her tale well. I do, however, have two issues with this book....moreFranklin's writing is very well done and enjoyable. She paints a vivid picture and tells her tale well. I do, however, have two issues with this book.
1. Anachronisms. This book is full of them (I'll address a few under the next heading). She uses the term crusader throughout the book, and that term wasn't invented until about 500 years after the setting of the book. Normally I'd forgive something like this as an expediency for modern comprehension, but the reason why I read historical fiction is to get into the mindset of that period's people, and they thought of the crusades differently than we do. To call them crusades is to color them with modern prejudices. Add to that many of the medical practices (the doctor in the book doesn't do any bloodletting and seems to have a notion of germ theory centuries ahead of her time), the presence of cholera in England, etc., and it kicked me out of the story. 2. The main character. I had a real hard time getting to like her, and never really did. The main problem was that she was a 21st-century character with 21st-century sensibilities who spent most of her inner monologue railing against Medieval society with so much awareness of the injustices, incongruities, and hypocrisy that it was distracting. All of her railings are justified, but not believable in this setting. I love that she was a doctor and I loved her skill set and what it could do. I would have loved it even more, though, if I got to see the world through the eyes of a Medieval woman, not the eyes of a modern person. I already have those eyes. That's not why I read historical fiction.
I wouldn't recommend this book, unless you're comfortable with my second item, which I completely understand. I'm more of a purist and not exactly in Franklin's target audience. I won't read on in this series, even though I loved some of the other characters (like Sir Rowley Picot). All this being said, if I learned that a lot of this was tempered in the sequels, I'd probably read on.(less)
Malgwyn, reluctant counselor to King Arthur, finds himself tasked with solving the cruel murder of a monk. Upon examining the body and the monk's cell...moreMalgwyn, reluctant counselor to King Arthur, finds himself tasked with solving the cruel murder of a monk. Upon examining the body and the monk's cell it becomes apparent to Malgwyn that much more is at play than a simple killing. With heresy and political intrigue in the air, and fortunes and crowns to be made or lost, his investigation takes on lethal urgency.
Tony Hays continues his Arthurian Mysteries series with this second novel. Like the first, Malgwyn himself tells the tale, and we see the world through his sometimes-cynical, sometimes-angry, but always insightful eyes. The world of Arthur and his people is brought to life with deep characters. The plot is fast-paced and well told, complete with intrigue, false clues, and twists that had me guessing until the last page. For fans of historical fiction, murder mysteries, or those who want to see the Arthurian world related by a gifted author who has delved the depths of the historical record, this book is for you. Highly recommended, as is the whole series.(less)
This review was first published in Historical Novel Review, where The Stolen Bride received the Editor's Choice distinction.
When Malgwyn accompanies K...moreThis review was first published in Historical Novel Review, where The Stolen Bride received the Editor's Choice distinction.
When Malgwyn accompanies King Arthur to help settle a dispute in Doged’s troubled lands, they arrive to find more than ambitious nobles and Saxons vying for the throne. If Arthur wants to keep Doged’s land in the fold, and the gold that might be found in its mines, then they must find some way to keep the peace. But when Doged is murdered, his young wife demands answers. Arthur turns to Malgwyn, his most trusted counselor and the man most experienced in such matters, but Malgwyn soon discovers that not only his life, but the future of the kingdom, will be lost should he not find the true murderer.
The Stolen Bride is the fourth book in Tony Hays’ Arthurian Mysteries novels. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed each one. The previous three novels are fantastic, though they aren’t necessary to enjoy this fourth installment. Hays has done a tremendous amount of research to breath new life into this era where Rome has retreated and the Britons are left to fill the power vacuum and fight off the Saxon invasion. Malgwyn, for all his flaws, is brilliantly written, as are Arthur, Merlin, Bedevere, Guenevere, and all the rest. Highly recommended. (less)