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The Bastard's Tale (Sister Frevisse, #12)
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The Bastard's Tale (Sister Frevisse #12)

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  461 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
Reporting on the politics and plotting of the royal court for an ambitious bishop, Dame Frevisse is instead drawn into a dangerous maelstrom encircling the throne of England.
The pity is that desperate acts of loyalty and love are not always enough to save men from murder-and an innocent man from the gallows.
Paperback, 320 pages
Published December 2nd 2003 by Berkley (first published 2002)
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(showing 1-30)
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Kathy Davie
Jan 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, history
Twelfth in the Sister Frevisse medieval mystery series and revolving around Dame Frevisse, a Benedictine nun, and Joliffe, a player-writer turned spy for the bishop. Events take place in Bury St. Edmunds in England in 1447.

If you're following the Sister Frevisse stories (and if you enjoyed her Joliffe, the Player series), you must read this one as events in this affect Frevisse and her relationship with Alice and Bishop Beaufort. Joliffe also plays in this.

My Take
It's not a typical Frevisse, for
Dec 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dead-tree, mystery
This is the second Dame Frevisse Medieval Mystery by Margaret Frazer that I've read and I enjoyed this one as thoroughly as the first. My enjoyment came, not only from her excellent research and style of writing, but also because this period of history is one of my favorites. Ms. Frzer made the events surrounding the arrest (for treason) of the Duke of Glouchester come alive where reading straight historical excerpts never did. I like best historical novels that stay as close to actual events/pe ...more
Jul 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, history
I think this is one of Margaret Frazer's better books in the Dame Frivasse mystery series. It is based on actual historical events and gives a good look at England's governing style in the 1400s. This was also not a murder first with the book dedicated to solving the crime. Actually, this book had me biting my nails at the end:-)

Mary E
Dec 05, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Margaret Frazer's series is about nuns in a convent in the last few years of the 1400s. Her book titles are styled after Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, e.g., The Servant's Tale, The Bishop's Tale, The Clerk's Tale, etc. The heroine of the stories is Dame Frevisse, a nun in the convent. Many of the stories take place in the convent or the nearby town, but this one takes our nun (with a companion nun) to Bury St. Edmunds, where the King is calling a Parliament.

The story is taken right from history. T
Renee Wallace
May 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very believable dialogue, and precise description of the social mores of the time. I am always pleasantly taken with how Frazer manages to make Dame Frevisse seem so absolutely true-to-form. I did not find it slow-paced, but then, I grab every new Frazer as soon as I can, and have yet to be disappointed.
Janet Windeguth
Whenever I read one of these books, I always get curious about the different offices Frevisse and the nuns pray...namely (because I don’t know Latin), what does each prayer actually say? This time I finally did something about my curiosity and found a surprisingly helpful Wikipedia article that gives an overview of each.
Jill Holmes
Jan 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Margaret Frazer's intertwining of real history and fiction continues to enthrall me. Dame Frevisse, sometime sleuth and ever nun at St. Frideswide's convent in Oxfordshire, and Joliffe, also sometime sleuth and occasional minstrel and actor, are simply grand characters. As cousin to the powerful Lady Alice of Suffolk, Dame Frevisse has entree into the world of kings, bishops, and nobles, despite her modest vocation. Joliffe, as a player, has all the flexiblity and none of the social connections ...more
Tara Russell
More political machinations as Dame Frevisse is summoned by Bishop Beaufort to attend upon her cousin, Lady Alice of Suffolk at meeting of parliament at Bury. Another strong book in the medieval mystery series and with an unexpected ending with Dame Frevisse.
Reggie Billingsworth
Unlike previous titles Margaret Frazer only allows Dame Frevisse a rather dull 'listener' role here amidst the highly complex spy vs spy machinations of the parliamentary gathering during England's political power struggles ca 1447.
I've served my post graduate time in medieval studies and while not adverse to it, I have to admit that Frazer's desire to include everything she has ever researched a sincerely dedicated but an entrenched and less than charming trait.
A history win, a literary fail.
Jul 24, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Margaret Frazer has created a very compelling character in Dame Frevisse, a Medieval nun. Despite living in a small, cloistered priory, Frevisse manages to emerge in the center of a "worldly problem" in each book. The pleasure in reading this series is that Frazer's principal character remains true to her role as a religious woman while also discreetly engaging in outside family or political events. Frazer is navigating a fairly slippery slope to keep her character true to the period and her cal ...more
Nov 11, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: medieval, mystery, series
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Was looking for a historical whodunit, but there was no mystery to solve (the reader knows pretty much from the beginning who is behind the black deeds of the plot and why). Was more of a political thriller, which is fine if that's what you're looking for (but I wasn't).

Of the four protagonists, Dame Frevisse was the least interesting. Of the three "investigators" (Frevisse, Joliffe, Pecock), she seemed the least effective. This is my first Dame Frevisse novel. According to some of the other re
Mark Robertson
Jun 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ms. Frazer does a good job of opening a window into life in the fifteenth century. In a male dominated world in which the nobility and the church were the two primary bases of power, we get to follow a nun with a penchant for finding out the truth of things. It helps that said nun, Dame Frevisse, has ties through a cousin's marriage to the Duke of Suffolk, a major player in this tale of murderous ambition that takes place in the time of Henry VI, whose father and uncle fought side by side at Agi ...more
Dec 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One way to divide the books in this series is to separate those that deal with high politics and include real people of the 15th century from those that are more concerned with lesser folk. This is one that concerns jockeying for royal favor and power with the Duke of Gloucester and the Marquis of Suffolk as major characters. I generally prefer those about lesser folk but this was a riveting story. The bastard refers to the Duke's illegitimate son, who gets caught up by all the plotting around h ...more
Jan 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This entry in the Sister Frevisse series is notable for its insights into history, taking place at a Parliament at Bury St. Edmunds where Henry VI reigns and the heirs to the throne, his uncle the Duke of Gloucester and his cousin the Duke of York, present threats to the power behind the throne, the Marquis of Suffolk--who happens to be married to Frevisse's cousin, Alice Chaucer. Also delightful are Bishop Pecock, the always-welcome Joliffe, Alice, and the bastard, Arteys. A most enjoyable stor ...more
Aug 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
This Frevisse novel is one that definitely fits into the 'spy' rather than 'crime' genres, as is the better for it. The tension is in abundance, but comes from not knowing what will happen to the protagonists and the county, rather than 'whodunnit'. Frazer has a masterful touch with history - imagining how big events would have looked to the people who lived through them - and this is one of those books that makes one wish she had written more 'straight' historical fiction.
Yasmina Walker
Dame Frevisse, a nun in medieval England is sent to Bury St. Edmonds to spy on her cousin Lady Alice. While in Bury a murder occurs, forcing Dame Frevisse and Lady Alice to question their family and friends. Although the mystery is not very intriguing, the strength of this novel lies in the historical information that Frazer gives the reader. A fascinating look into medieval England and the intrigues of the church.
Catherine  Mustread
Sister Frevisse series #12, set in 1447, in which Frevisse is working again in reluctant connection with Joliffe of the Joliffe the Player series, this time in a very political way involving the bastard son of Gloucester, and Suffolk, Frevisse's cousin's husband. 
Jun 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I recently read my first Dame Frevisse mystery (The Bishop's Tale) and enjoyed it so much that I bought more!

I would actually say that this book was superior to the first one I read, for two reasons... it was based on actual historical events and the ending was very suspenseful and really had me chomping at the bit to find out what happened to Artys... great story, beautifully told... can't wait to start the next book in the series!
Dennis Fischman
Oct 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mystery
This is a mystery by courtesy: the only dead body is that of an attempted assassin, and we have a reasonably strong suspicion who sent him (even before he arrives, I'd say). No, it's a complex historical novel based on real events. The plot resolution carries Dame Frevisse even more into the sinful world than she's ever gone before. It makes her love her cloistered life more fervently by comparison.

A character in this book, Joliffe the Player, later gets his own series.
Katie Bee
I'm not really a fan of Joliffe, but he was less annoying than in some of the other Frevisse tales in which he appears. Arteys was an interesting character, and the history (for this is far more of historical fiction than it is a mystery - the murder is incidental and doesn't happen until two-thirds of the way through the book) is better integrated than in some of the others.
Sarah Messick-Milone
I learned some interesting history about the downfall of Humphrey Duke of Glouchster. The enjoyment in this one comes more from a "behind the scenes, being there" retelling/reimagining of an historic event rather than any mystery. I really liked the fact that the author's note explains how close the novel sticks to the known historical facts and which parts are of her own imagining.
Sep 12, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
meh, this is a stick-to-the-pattern "mystery." Read it if you are in a hostel, have already read your other books, are bored, have already seen your current city, and the other books available are in German. It's not bad, but don't go looking for it.
Jul 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book in the Dame Frevisse series. I enjoyed finding the book where Joliffe is a main player in the action and will now check out the later books she wrote on this basis. I truly enjoyed the witty dialogue with the Bishop Pecock and learning of his life.
Aug 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dame Frevisse mystery (library)
(Joliffe and the players, etc)
Had to return to library Sept 25
Borrowed copy from Iris--Dec. 2015
Buying, selling, and moving houses, followed by 2nd stroke. So when I settled down and could really read, this book felt so good! I like Dame Frevisse.
Mary Newcomb
Dame Frevisse finds herself in interesting situations. This time she is in Bury St Edmunds in 1447 when the Duke of Gloucester is arrested and subsequently dies. The intrigue surrounding that is fascinating with extensive implications. This is an interesting series with complex characters.
Aug 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Lots of politics, but all of the names sort themselves out ... now if I could only remember how all of these men relate to each other. This is a little heavier read than the others in this series, but I appreciated the historical connections.
Jul 01, 2011 rated it liked it
I had some trouble getting into the feel of 15th century England and Wales. Once I got familiar with the odd names, titles, and settings, the story was pretty good. Not one of my favorite books, but a good read.
This is early in the series. After reading 6 or 7 in no particular order, I regret not being firm in reading in chronologic order. Still wonderfully readable.
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Margaret Frazer is a pen name used at first by Mary Monica Pulver Kuhfeld and Gail Lynn Frazer writing in tandem for a series of historical medieval mysteries featuring Dame Frevisse. After the sixth novel, the works are written by Gail Frazer alone, and the name has subsequently been used exclusively by her. A second series of novels by Ms Frazer set in the same time and place feature the player/ ...more
More about Margaret Frazer...

Other Books in the Series

Sister Frevisse (1 - 10 of 17 books)
  • The Novice's Tale (Sister Frevisse, #1)
  • The Servant's Tale (Sister Frevisse, #2)
  • The Outlaw's Tale (Sister Frevisse, #3)
  • The Bishop's Tale (Sister Frevisse, #4)
  • The Boy's Tale (Sister Frevisse, #5)
  • The Murderer's Tale (Sister Frevisse, #6)
  • The Prioress' Tale (Sister Frevisse, #7)
  • The Maiden's Tale (Sister Frevisse, #8)
  • The Reeve's Tale (Sister Frevisse #9)
  • The Squire's Tale (Sister Frevisse, #10)

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