Intrigue, suspicion, and rivalry among the royal princes casts a shadow on the court of Owain, king of north Wales… The year is 1143 and King Owain seeks to unite his daughter in marriage with an allied king. But when the groom is murdered on the way to his wedding, the bride’s brother tasks his two best detectives—Gareth, a knight, and Gwen, the daughter of the court bard—with bringing the killer to justice. And once blame for the murder falls on Gareth himself, Gwen must continue her search for the truth alone, finding unlikely allies in foreign lands, and ultimately uncovering a conspiracy that will shake the political foundations of Wales.
With over a million books sold to date, Sarah Woodbury is the author of more than forty novels, all set in medieval Wales. Although an anthropologist by training, and then a full-time homeschooling mom for twenty years, she began writing fiction when the stories in her head overflowed and demanded that she let them out. While her ancestry is Welsh, she only visited Wales for the first time at university. She has been in love with the country, language, and people ever since. She even convinced her husband to give all four of their children Welsh names.
Sarah is a member of the Historical Authors Fiction Cooperative (HFAC), the Historical Novel Society, and Novelists, Inc. (NINC).
. I had previously read this book and neglected to post a rating or review. So I just reread it. It was a captivating, historical-romantic-mystery - based in the medieval era. I enjoyed it just as much the second time.
Garth was a very honorable and worthy man. Gwen was a strong and independent woman, with more freedom than most women in that era. She was able to function well under duress and didn't quiver or complain about things. Garth and Gwen were both highly skilled and their services to Hywel, incredibly valuable to the King, even if he didn't always acknowledge that. Hywel was a very strategic, warrior poet.
The author wove historical facts and fiction together to create a very entertaining read. It stands on its own and delivers a HEA. I would recommend the book highly. .
A quick read but, sadly, awful. Poor writing that is almost childlike, wooden characterisation and dialogue. Historical howlers proliferate like......things that happen a lot :P
There were no kings in Wales. Owain Mawr does not resemble himself at all. To be fair to the poor author, if she got her information from Wiki, he gets called a king on their page on him but he wasn't one. Wiki seems to be seriously lacking in knowledge about Wales full stop but that's another issue.
Of course, the events of this novel also fall within the context of The Anarchy in England. The events follow the correct chronology - Anarawd was indeed murdered in 1143 on the eve of his marriage to Owain's daughter - the feel of the period is lacking almost entirely and I have an impression - possibly incorrect - that the author was heavily influenced by the Arthurian legends rather than Medieval known history; there certainly seems to be a bit of confusion between the Dark Ages and the Medieval period.
What was the point of Gwen being Hywel's 'spy' anyway, since apparently every man dog and weasel knew she was a spy? Pfft!
Anyway, the story laboured on to it's conclusion. I hope this writer improves her game - I am more than eager to see anyone willing to write about Medieval Wales succeed. I am unlikely to read any more as things stand.
“I can accept that we can’t always live the life we imagined.” “I’ve paid for my choices, Gwen,” Gareth said. “I’d prefer not to have to keep paying.”
Excellent historical fiction. Felt like fine linen, rather than a fully realized tapestry. Got the facts straight, though it lacks the richness of Ellis Peters or Bernard Cornwell. Felt too modern both vocabulary and in character development.
“Speculation is how mysteries are solved. We ask good questions, and we see if any of the answers we find fit our questions.”
Speaking of Peters, the reader half expects a certain Welsh Benedictine monk to have popped up in several scenes as this story overlays the same historical events that Peters' The Summer of the Danes.
“But you can’t go back, not really, even if you follow the same road.”
A fun story; I look forward to more.
A very good read.
"We need a diversion to get to Gwen.” “I’ll go. Give me a slow count of one hundred and then move.” “What are you going to do?” “I don’t know. Like my brother, I make it up as I go along.” “I don’t even want to know.”
I was very disappointed with this mystery. I like medieval mysteries, but very little rang true to me. I won't get into the history on which the book is based; I don't know enough about medieval Wales at this time. The dialogue is very modern, as are the attitudes of the "good" characters. Gwen's characterization, in particular, is not consistent with the time period. The author has her, an unmarried/unbetrothed woman, riding off alone with a former suitor on an overnight trip, and no one questions this conduct, which is just unbelievable given that Welsh law imposed fines on women engaged in illicit sexual behavior. She bravely stands up to various threats (not always realistically), and impresses the "good" guys around her with her pluckiness and determination. Her status as Hywel's "spy" is also laughable, as everyone knows about it (including her 12 year-old brother, who volunteers it to folks at the first opportunity). Also, Gwen, who is older than most unmarried women of her time, suggesting that she is not the most desirable of women, becomes the love interest of two (and a third declares he loves her but it would never work).
The mystery drags on for far too long, with kidnappings and abductions to foreign lands. The "twist" at the end isn't that interesting in the first place, except that it strongly suggests that a key secondary character is willing to risk the lives of his retainers. And the reasons for the murder (both by the acknowledged killer and the actual one) are lame and without much foundation (basically, "politics" for the first and "he's not a great guy" for the second).
A murder mystery set in medieval times this one follows Gareth and Gwen as their trying to solve a murder in court, but as Gareth gets accused for the murder Gwen has to solve it and save him from doom. Not quite the entertaining mystery and the history was questionable but it was alright. Not rushing to listen to the next one if it's available though
It is 1143 and King Owain seeks to unite his daughter in marriage with an allied king, King Anarawd. But King Anarawd is murdered on his way to his own wedding, and the bride's brother, Prince Hywel works with his two best detectives, Gwen and Gareth to bring the killer to justice.
Gwen and Gareth were separated 5 years ago when her father refused to let them get married. But a lot has changed in 5 years... Gareth is now a knight and Gwen is now a spy for Prince Hywel. As they try to catch the killer, Gareth and Gwen find that they only trust each other.
But the murderer is a sly one... and Gareth finds himself the chief murder suspect and is thrown in prison by King Owain. With Gareth in prison, Prince Hywel and Gwen continue to look for the real murderer and when they get closer than they realize, Gwen gets kidnapped. Hywel releases Gareth from prison and they go to find Gwen...
I loved the interactions between Hywel and his older brother, Prince Rhun. They are different from each other, but they work together really well and don't have the jealousies that were typical among heirs and second sons of their day. I loved the interactions between Gwen and Gareth, too!
There was a surprise at the end that I didn't see coming. I felt like a few things were left hanging, but then found out there was a second book (The Uninvited Guest) which tied up those loose ends...
This is a plot driven story where the romance is actually secondary. There is not even one kiss in this squeaky clean book and I was disappointed at what little romance there was.
I am also a bit peeved that you have to read the second book to find out what happens to the H & h romantically. Needles to say, I don't feel a burning need to find out, so my read ends here.
The story itself was pretty good if your into murder/mystery reads, but I found the whole "spy" thing laughable since it seemed everyone knew the h was a spy.. I mean she tells everyone she is without a thought. I thought being a "spy" is supposed to be a secret.
This book is loaded with history, which I love, but it was not incorporated well into the story. It felt more like a histroy lesson and the information seemed to have little impact to to the plot IMHO.
The writing was technically very good and the chatacrters were pretty well developed, I just wanted there to be more insight into the h being a bard. It felt like the whole bard thing had no real purpose.
The hero was ok. He was honorable in all ways and I liked that the author didn't divest his past sexual experiences. We never know if he even is experienced or if he was with a woman during the 5 year separation from the heroine. The only indication that he may have been experienced is one sentence where the heroine asks him to lace up the back of her dress and she thinks he seems to be a little too knowledgeable about doing it.
Safety: There are no safety concerns in this book that I can forsee. There is some mild violence and some detail of murder, nothing crazy. There is no HEA, no ILY's but we do know the H & h love each other even though they haven't told each other yet. There is no cheating an no OW/OM.
I'm going to stop reading this series here and I would not recommend this book to any romance fans, but those who enjoy history and mystery.. sure give it a shot.
Murders pile upon ambushes and poisonings in this historical crime book. The bodies are so numerous we find the investigations blending together - as they should because they are all related. Early in the story a young Welsh woman, Gwen, is being escorted from one castle to another for a wedding, when her party comes across an ambush site. Soon after they have investigated they are themselves set upon.
King Anarawd of Deheubarth, murdered, leaves chaos in the wake of his untimely death. He was the intended bridegroom and maybe someone wanted to stop him from joining his lands with that of his bride's family. Other issues include finding an Irish Dane among the company of murderers, and a connection of Gareth's, the brother and guard of Gwen. In these turbulent twelfth century days of sell-swords, hiring armed men comes easily. But Gwen and Gareth need to find out who is paying them, and why.
While the many names seem daunting, there is a cast list at the start, and the various characters are well established. The author has done a good job explaining who they all are and what their station or function was in Welsh society. I also enjoyed the descriptions of the countryside and rough roads. Anyone who enjoys an unusual medieval crime story will be rewarded by taking a close look at The Good Knight.
I downloaded an e-ARC to read in my own time. I chose to read and write a review. This is an unbiased review.
who killed a neighboring Welsh regional king and why? the daughter of a bard and a Welsh knight come upon the scene of a massacre. their investigation uncovers treachery, intrigue, a meddling princess angling to be the over kings wife, Irish and Danes invade the land. the bards daughter is kidnapped and finally rescued by her true love. the traitor is revealed, the reasons for the murder made clear.
I found the novel surprisingly engaging and I actually had trouble putting it down. It's not 'great literature' by any means, but it has a fascinating story and interesting characters. I am a fan of historical mysteries and this book had enough twists and turns to be satisfying. Another interesting aspect is that it takes place in Wales about the same time period as the Brother Cadfael books by Ellis Peters, one of my all time favorite series. Cadfael is a Benedictine monk of Welsh descent who had a life as a soldier and settles at Shrewsbury in the English border area with Wales during the English civil war between King Stephen and Empress Maud. The Good Knight is devoid of English fighting with the Welsh, taking place after a Welsh-Norman war, instead focusing on the uneasy relations with the Danes (Vikings), who have periodically raided Wales from Ireland. It provided a slightly different context of this historical period. To those reviewers who quibble over historical facts, I'd say that if I wanted 100% accuracy, I wouldn't be reading fiction.
This well-researched and cleverly plotted historical fiction mystery deserves a longer review. Interesting characters with well-drawn motives, and Welsh settings which came alive. Okay, I lived for a time where this is set - but centuries later. I've already decided to read the next book in what promises to be a great series.
Fun, enjoyable and entertaining. This medieval techniques of "question, answer, discussion" to try to find the solution to crimes & murder is fun. With today's technology, it's entertaining to read a story where a man's word is judged and weighed in terms of his guilt in a crime. I liked the characters. Being the first book of a series, there is a lot of introduction, explanation of role/relationship between characters and a expansive description of place, country & politics. It's not overly detailed, just enough to set the scene and set the reader up for the rest of the series. As others have mentioned, the behaviour of the characters do sometimes feel out of Time and more modern than the setting but this didn't bother me. I relaxed and enjoyed a simple, entertaining and fun mystery.
This is an excellent medieval mystery story. The characters are easy to like and understand. The nobles in the story(kings and princes) are surely a crafty bunch - and their actions deeply affect their subjects, including Gwen and Gareth. Gwen is a bard's daughter, brought to the castle with her father and brother for entertainment at the wedding of a princess to a king. On the way to the castle, the groom-to-be is murdered and suddenly we find that Gwen is a spy for a prince. A second helper for this prince is Gareth, a knight, who asked for Gwen's hand in marriage five years ago, and whom her father did not think was good enough for his talented daughter. Will Gwen and Gareth solve the mystery of who murdered the king on the way to his wedding? Will Gareth and Gwen finally get to wed? Lots of espionage and behind the scenes maneuverings. Historically accurate (well, the main story line is, anyway.)
This book was written just for me. It had me in it as the heroine. A nobody that made a name for herself and got the man of her dreams eventually. A hero that was dashing, daring, and a damn nice guy and a really bad villain that no one guessed was bad. It had all the right ingredients for a super incredible book. I loved it from beginning to end.
I think what I liked most about this book is the ease it was to read. It didn’t have any fancy speech, no huge words that I had to look up and no terms that I didn’t understand. It was written with an easy-going style that I found relaxing.
The story was believable, the characters easy to fall in love with even if you didn’t want to and it had enough twists and turns to keep me guessing throughout. I wouldn’t change a thing. Definitely a must read over and over again.
As historical mysteries go, this is a pretty good one. It comes with a map of Wales and a pronunciation guide, and it's based on real historical events from the 12th century. The murder mysteries and various political plots are researched by a bard's daughter named Gwen who has raised her little brother since her mother died in childbirth and her old beau, Gareth, sent away in disgrace five years ago by an angry lord whose sadist order he refused to follow, but who turns up unexpectedly when a problem is encountered very early in the book.
The main characters are well constructed, the author appears quite knowledgeable and comfortable in in conveying this very different time and place, and the plot has depth. There's even a visit to Dublin as a bonus! I would read more in this series.
I need to give it 2.5 stars. I did finish it and liked the story line, but the execution I had problems with. There is a lot of history in this book. A lot about the Welsh, sadly it was presented in such a way that it made it hard to understand. I felt like it was written for people who already knew what was going on not for a newbie unfamiliar with the time period and what happened then. This was a big issue at the first, it worked itself out more towards the end. The romance is a side character for this book and really took a back seat to the mystery. The ending was really what got this book the two stars. It just did not wrap up well. This was very clean with mild religious swearing through out. With some violence and a gory dead body.
I was a bit hesitant about buying this one as mystery books are not among my favourites. But having bought all of Sarah Woodbury's other books and thoroughly enjoyed them, I clicked on the button. I did enjoy reading it, in fact it jumped the (long, long) queue of waiting books and now I am waiting for the sequel to appear as I definitely want to read more about Gwen and Gareth. ( Ideally I would have givin it 4.5 stars as only favourite books normally get 5, but 4 would feel mean as it is simply not my favourite genre.)
I am not a huge fanof mediaeval mysteries but this one looked interesting so I gave it a try and was quickly hooked. I have read some reviews that critique the accuracy of the forensic details and the historical weaponry, but any such errors didn't leap out at me or interfere with my enjoyment of the story. The author did use a recorded murder as the basis for this story which came out in the end notes for the book. Gareth and Gwen were her own creations however, and Gwen, a bard's daughter does seem ahead of her time as a female spy. I will be looking for the others in this series.
A lot of history about Wales in the 12th century including war, intrigue, and power struggles plus an interesting mystery using some physical evidence and keen observations to help gather facts and solve the ambush and murder of a Welsh king and his escort while en route to his wedding.
The Good Knight Earns 5/5 Knight’s Oaths…Clever & Engaging!
I am quite a fan of historical mysteries, especially when centuries in the past, British Isles as the setting, and filled with descriptive language and rich medieval characters. Case in point: Sarah Woodbury’s “The Good Knight” from her Gareth and Gwen Medieval Mysteries. It is 1143 Wales, and the arranged marriage between one king’s daughter to an allied royal is in question; the groom is murdered. Sir Gareth is asked to investigate by the victim’s brother, but circumstantial evidence points to him as the traitor, so Gwen, a woman from Gareth’s past, is entreated to help uncover the answers. The conspiracy is complex, and the Gareth & Gwen team brings up their past connection. Woodbury’s writing style includes a descriptive flair and engaging dialogue that illustrates well the medieval era, but it’s easy to read with court intrigue and multiple murders to solve. The cast of characters along with understanding the language may be daunting, but they are addressed at the beginning of the story as well as introduced well in context. I found the many dramatic elements from murders and kidnappings to political treachery and Danish invasions totally thrilling, the characters varied and entertaining with a strong female lead, and the final reveal was satisfying. Although I am not familiar with the historical truths, I don’t read this genre as non-fiction. Woodbury’s book had the feel of accuracy with events, lifestyle, and society distinctions associated with medieval times. I want more!
I got this book free from Kobo through a Bookbub.com promo. A whodunit set 900 years ago, that sounded interesting.
A king is travelling from his castle to another king’s castle in Wales to marry that king’s daughter. He is ambushed by Irish/Danish mercenaries and killed. Who hired the mercenaries and why? The two lead characters, Gwen and Gareth, try to come to the bottom of it. The have a past and sometimes that clouds their judgement on what each should be doing. They still care about each other and everyone knows.
For those of us used to murders being solved using every scientific method available, this is a big step back. It was interesting to read how they tried to solve the murder on available visual clues and perceived motives. The book was based on real people and real events. We do not know exactly what happen back then, so the author had a lot leeway. with her story. The book was action driven more than character driven. The times were were violent, so that should be no surprise. The back story to Gwen and Gareth is explained quite well, but I do not thing that their characters were that fully developed. There are more books in the series to do that. The storyline where where one character spread the rumour that Gwen was carrying another man’s child was not fully developed. What was that character’s motive. Maybe next book.
I would recommend the book. It was a fun book to read.
This book is the first in a mystery series that takes place in medieval Wales. The characters are interesting, and I always enjoy books where the protagonist is a woman. The secondary characters were well characterized and had sometimes outsized personalities. The author is clearly extremely knowledgeable about the time period and setting. The plot was quite clever, with a last-minute twist that was both unexpected and plausible. My only issue (but it's a big issue) is with the writing. The dialogue was flat and two dimensional, and the writing seemed unnecessarily simple. There was not much nuance or subtlety--when a point needed to be made, it was made with a sledgehammer. I would have preferred more deftness in the book. That being said, I was torn between 3 and 4 stars and decided to give the book 4 stars. The author definitely gets points for writing about a culture and place that doesn't get enough attention (Wales tends to be overshadowed by its larger neighbor). And I am intrigued enough by the characters to be willing to try the second book to see if the writing matures as the series progresses. I'll keep you posted! :)
This is the first book I’ve read by this author and I really enjoyed it. Gwen and Gareth make a good team trying to piece together clues despite all the intrigue and deception of the Welsh Court. It is a detailed story and very interesting. A very good read.
This is the kind of writing that makes reading a chore. A long hard well written book can be a chore because it challenges the reader to become better at reading and understanding. This book made me wonder why the author hadn’t done her homework. Did she think that she didn’t need to?
In the beginning there is a murder. A king has been ambushed and killed. The two main characters examine the body and declare that he was not killed in the heat of battle he was killed somewhere else and dragged to the scene. How could they tell? They could tell because, the ground was not soaked in blood and he, “bled out somewhere else.” He was stabbed in the chest with a knife and not with a sword because the wound was too crude; clearly She did not know that until the rapier came into use in about the 16th century the sword was the crude instrument, not only that, there was some kind of notch at the end of the blade that left its mark on the wound. It sounded just like a script for one of the CSI TV shows.
Did she think that if she set her story in the twelfth century no one would notice that a knight would not be carrying a non descript knife but a dagger designed specifically for hand to hand combat. Didn’t she know that a man stabbed in the heart with a dagger would die instantly? In the end the murderer tells us he dragged the body face down to the place where it was found to avoid getting blood on his clothes. Well, that was a lot more difficult that it needed to be. If he had dragged the body by its feet with the toes facing the sky there would have been no bleeding from the wound as he was already dead and the heart was not beating. By dragging the corps the other way gravity might have caused some blood drops to fall. The real reason he dragged the body face down was so the author could put scuff marks on the toes of his boots.
She has a character that is the second son of a king who she calls his bastard son. Didn’t she know that the bastard son of a king would never be called prince, and would never ever inherit even if no legitimate heirs were produced by his father?
She must have known that writing in the modern vernacular would make her story seem trite because she did try to use a few words that seem strange to our ears. She used the word, canted the past tense of cant, repeatedly. The characters often canted their heads when leaving someone of superior rank or whom they wanted to acknowledge. The show obeisance to a superior, need only to have been done once. The reader would then understand the relationship between the two characters and the next time they met would assume that proper etiquette was followed. When used as a noun cant means a hypocritical statement when used as a verb it means to slant or tilt. Today we would probably call it spin.
The author had the makings of a good story. Too bad she decided that she could write edit and publish it all by herself. There is no substitute for a good editor.
Based on facts, the fiction part being the parts with no historical record to verify them as well as the day to day interactions that wouldn't have been recorded. When she was 16, Gwen had fallen in love with a young knight. He ended up discharged from the service of a lord, but as it turned out, he had actually left because his conscience could no longer stomach the orders he received. He has been gone for a while when they meet again, because of an ambush...actually, 2 ambushes. The king's daughter's betrothed was killed in the ambush, which starts the process of investigating to find the murderer. Gareth ends up jailed & released twice. He also ends up poisoned the first time by belladonna in his mead. He is found unconscious by his lord and Gwen. Gwen gives him a solution of mandrake to make him throw up the poison. She, like most women of the era before 20th century medicine, knew the smell of both dangerous and helpful plants and how to use them. The trail os confusing. The nirdered man's body goes missing. 2 more are found, one a stable biy from the visiting group and the other the woman who had doped Gareth's mead with belladonna (the smell of the plant was on her but on no one else). The king's younger brother is found to be behind the ambushes by the mercenaries. He abducts Gwen, takes her to Dublin, where she finds the prince of one of the 2 kings of Dublin is an ally. Eventually, Gareth gets to Dublin via another Viking boat (at the time, Danes apparently controlled much of Ireland), finds Gwen is in one piece, & they both end up back in Wales on 2 different boats as the kong's brother is still using her as a hostage. Eventually, the murder is solved in a most unusual way, & the stray trails to various people are sorted out. The king's brother gets his comeuppance. Gwen knows Gareth loves her. The only question is whether or not Gwen's father, who has used her as a surrogate mother for her 10 years younger brother since their mother doed in childbirth, as well as a secondary bard to her brother & father, cook, gardener, housekeeper, and nurse, will let her go now that her brother is 12 and has a promising future as a bard. These take.place in the same.tomeframe as the Brother Cadfael mysteries, just down the road from the Marches (the border area between England and Wales, always a scene of strife). I dpubt that Ellis Peters and Sarah Woodbury have collaborated, but the next book in the series explains more of the strife in England between the Empress Maud and Stephen, which lasted 19 years. After I read the forst 2 Gareth and Gwen mysteries, what I read in some of the Brother Cadfael mysteries made a lot more sense. Let's face it, women are better at showing the fitility of wars than guys are!:D