LJ's Reviews > The Wolves of Savernake

The Wolves of Savernake by Edward Marston
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Mar 04, 09

bookshelves: 1000s, england, historical, male_author, middle_ages_5th_cent-1558, mystery
Read in February, 2009

THE WOLVES OF SAVERNAKE (Hist. Mys-Ralph Delchard/Gervase Bret-England-1086) - Ex
Marston, Edward (aka Keith Miles) – Vol. 1 of The Domesday Books (http://www.domesdaybook.co.uk/faqs.ht...)
St. Martin’s Press, 1993, US Hardcover – ISBN; 0312099428

First Sentence: Savernake Forest trembled in the fading light.

Set 20 years after William the Conqueror becomes king, royal tribunals are sent throughout England to compile a comprehensive assessment of his land and resources and the extent of taxes he could raise.

Although one tribunal has already visited Bedwyn, a letter received from the town’s miller has prompted the sending of a second tribunal consisting of knight, Ralph Delchard, lawyer Gervase Bret, Canon Hubert and Brother Simon.

Before they arrive, the miller has been brutally killed, apparently by a wolf. Ralph suspect the cause of death was more human than animal.

This is another of those authors I can’t believe I’ve not previously read. His writing is so visual and his descriptions so lush, I was drawn in from the very beginning. I love that he almost anthropomorphized nature: “…a weeping willow dived angrily downwards…” The scene when the members of the tribunal ride to the top of a hill and look down on Stonehenge is wonderfully done. I am not one for “casting” a book, but I found myself so doing with Delchard and Gervase.

The sense of time and place are so strong but not glamorized. Marston realistically portrays how little power most women had over their own lives and how superstition was rife. The dialogue is effective in conveying a sense of the period without making it difficult to read. There was wonderful humor to offset the brutality of the deaths.

The story is very well plotted. I certainly did not identify the killer until they were exposed. I’m now off to find all the rest of Marston’s books.
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