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March 1147. Assassination, espionage, betrayal. King Owain has ridden east to confront King Madog of Powys with the attempt on the life of his son. Rhys, now abbot of St. Kentigern’s monastery, hopes for peace and calls both Madog and Owain to the negotiating table. Peace, however, is the last thing on Madog’s mind. Recalcitrant, righteous, and angry, he sees King Owain’s recent weakness as his opportunity and knows that Owain’s own barons are circling like wolves, waiting for the chance to overthrow him.

With the throne of Gwynedd in the balance, Abbot Rhys is desperate to broker a deal. And when the body of a royal spy is found within hours of King Owain’s arrival at St. Asaph’s, it is up to Gareth and Gwen to find the killer before the wrong man is hanged—and a country lost.

The Unexpected Ally is the eighth Gareth & Gwen Medieval Mystery.

304 pages, ebook

Published July 19, 2016

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About the author

Sarah Woodbury

101 books633 followers
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).

She makes her home in Oregon.

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5 stars
159 (50%)
4 stars
120 (38%)
3 stars
30 (9%)
2 stars
3 (<1%)
1 star
1 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 20 of 20 reviews
Profile Image for Bron.
441 reviews6 followers
July 30, 2016
This follows on almost immediately from the previous book The Renegade Merchant, only a couple of weeks have passed since Gwen and Gareth were in Shrewsbury investigating the couple who had been impersonating them, and getting caught by slave takers. You really need this background to follow the current story. Gareth is still suffering from the wounds he got in Shrewsbury, but they have had to travel with King Owain's retinue to St Asaph for a peace conference. Needless to say a body soon turns up, and vanishes, and then is found again. Three dodgy monks do their best to muddy the waters too. Talking about mud, expect typical Welsh weather throughout the novel. There's theft, treachery, arson and slander but Gwen keeps a cool head.
219 reviews6 followers
July 2, 2019

Great plotting, story to move the saga along, fine writing. Still don't understand all the politics but more than I did the previous 7 books...so I feel good about that! A bit less suspenseful than the previous couple books and that's a bit of a relief for a reader who gets nervous when the events around the next corner are shocking or unexpected! Keep reading, fans. Always worth it...on to number 9.
648 reviews3 followers
October 10, 2021
I get more and more caught up in the lives of the characters and having Madog and Owain in the story was a great addition. I'm either liking the series more or becoming more mellow as my ratings have gone up. But I don't think I will ever be able to go above 4.0 unless Woodbury and her editor learn some new words and don't keep repeating the same old ones over and over again, particularly when they seem too contemporary for the time period.
2 reviews
November 5, 2020
Twists & Turns

I found that this book had a lot of twist and turns and kept me guessing. The parts I find annoying about Sarah Woodbury's writing is her thing about describing the men characters having pursed lips. Like really, what is that about?
February 11, 2018
Book Number 8 and still always seem to be surprised by something in these stories, weather it be who committed the crime or the reason why. So glad I stared these books, well worth the read.
Profile Image for Karen .
455 reviews
July 24, 2019
I am gobbling up the ones of this series I have yet to read.
Profile Image for Patricia.
2,909 reviews13 followers
April 29, 2020
A good installment in the story. I will be sad when this series ends.
Profile Image for Page .
274 reviews
January 25, 2023
My least favorite so far. There was a lot going on and way too many characters. I'm grateful that I'm listening because the names seemed more confusing.
Profile Image for Lily.
10 reviews1 follower
July 23, 2016
Gareth and Gwen get better with each installment! In this newest novel Gareth and Gwen's family is growing as the tension is Wales is growing. A half Welsh, half Danish spy is found dead just before King Owain is to confront King Madog about an attempted assassination of his son. A sketchy prior, old friends and a mystery with more twists and turns than a medieval maze. With Gareth recovering from an injury from a previous adventure and Gwen pregnant, they need all the help they can get. But whom to trust?
Profile Image for Ali.
1,258 reviews102 followers
September 25, 2016
These books are getting more like a slog as I go through - the historical detail is interesting, and Woodbury brings key figures of the time into the text in an interesting way, but the main characters remain bland and unengaging to me. I found the resolution to this mystery faintly ridiculous - I can't help thinking Woodbury would be better off without the genre trappings, writing straight historical fiction, then in the historical mystery genre. But, the tales of Wales still engage, and the Irish visitors are of great interest.
29 reviews
August 7, 2016
I love the Gareth and Gwen mysteries. They have become old friends to me. Very well written.

I love the Gareth and Gwen mysteries. The characters have become old friends to me. Very well written and entertaining.
170 reviews2 followers
December 31, 2021
Gwen and Gareth's Eighth Mystery

An enjoyable mystery, notable much more for the interesting character development than for the history. The intrigue of the court provides additional tension and conflict.
8 reviews
December 28, 2016
This may have been my second reading, but I don´t think so. Gwen and Gareth meet at a peace conference.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Sharon.
1,032 reviews43 followers
July 25, 2016
An intriguing mystery with some unexpected surprises... I like to be kept guessing.
Displaying 1 - 20 of 20 reviews

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