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The Troubadour's Tale

(Oxford Medieval Mysteries #5)

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  741 ratings  ·  43 reviews
When Nicholas Elyot and his friends set out to spend the Christmas season in the country, they are prepared for a hard journey in winter weather. They are also wary of violence on the road, for these are troubled times after the Great Pestilence, when bands of dispossessed and desperate men roam the countryside of England. It is not surprising, therefore, when the troubado ...more
Kindle Edition, 282 pages
Published January 28th 2018 by Shakenoak Press
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4.37  · 
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 ·  741 ratings  ·  43 reviews

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Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Oxford Mysteries by Ann Swinfen and featuring bookseller Nicholas Elyot is fast becoming one of my favorite series and a go to for a feel good moment. The latest, number 5, The Troubadour's Tale, definitely reinforces this. These books are set in the 14th century in Oxford and we get a look at what life was like at that time.

Nicholas lost his wife during the Great Pestilence and is raising his children with the help of his sister Margaret. In this book, Nicholas is returning to his childhood
Feb 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I look forward to each book in this series of Oxford book seller "Master Elyot" and his family. This one presents a very arduous and brave journey through the snow to the manor where his mother resides in the home of his cousin for the Christmas celebrations. Without the armed escort, Nicholas and his family could have been slaughtered by murdering rogues and are later threatened repeatedly by the presence of French mercenaries on a mission. The customs in food, song and dance are portrayed with ...more
Feb 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
4 1/2 stars. The only problem with Ann Swinfen’s historical novels is that they end! I will miss Nicholas Elyot very much, and look forward to his next adventure. This was one of the best, with her usual glorious descriptions of weather and landscape, and a wonderful depiction of what a Medieval English Christmas must have been like. The characters of Emma, Jordain, Margaret, and Alysoun continue to be endearing, and other members of the cast, such as Peter Winchingham, the Black Prince and the ...more
Feb 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
An entertaining tale of Christmastime in 14th century England. Although I did wonder at the wisdom of all those people traveling just to see the mother, I suppose it was not unusual for the time period. The author has created some memorable characters in her historical fiction, and I look forward to the next one.
Dorothea Miller
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The troubadour’s Tale is a great read! Swinfen never ceases to amaze me with her knowledge of the period! I especially enjoyed the musical instruments that were mentioned and used in the novel.
The story was filled with intrigue. I really enjoyed reading more about the Black Prince.
I’ve read these novels in quick succession and she manages to surprise me with her plot twists!
Anne Swinfen please keep writing them!
Apr 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have greatly enjoyed all the Oxford Medieval Mysteries and this one is no exception. The author's fine afterward discusses the "little ice age" which could have been having an effect on winter travel and other historical facts of that period.

Nicholas and his family, as well as his friend Jordain and Emma and her aunt and cousins are invited to Peter Winchingham's manor in Leighton for the Christmas season. Nicholas and Margaret's mother had been too frail to travel to them in Oxford with the h
Cindy Woods
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent historical novel

I have to say, Ann Swinfen is a favorite of mine. I anxiously await her next offering. This series, in particular, is well researched and written as if you are there.
The 14th century setting in England is a turbulent time. The characters are well described and the dialogue is apropos to the era. The plot takes us on a Christmas time holiday from the main character, Nicolas's, hometown Oxford to the country to spend the holiday with family and friends. As always, there
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
I always enjoy Swinfen’s descriptive powers and her knowledge of the era, but this novel suffers from too much of a good thing. The plot is often buried beneath a surfeit of descriptive passages and redundant action (how many times do members of the family bundle up and head for the manor house, the farm, the village?). The phrase “You’ve got the right of that” is used repetitively and is not supported by other colloquialisms of the time that might have added some variety to the dialogue. The pl ...more
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love this series. This book is about Nicholas and his family and friends traveling to spend Christmas with his family in the countryside. Of course Nicholas gets himself involved in other people's problems again, this time as a result of his friendship with Peter Winchingham, the merchant he met in book four. Peter's daughter has hired troubadours who are secretly spies.

I'm not a student of history, just a reader of historical fiction, but I do like games. These troubadours have a lot in commo
Jane Irish Nelson
May 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical, mystery
Love, love, love this series. And this book was no disappointment. Winter 1353 is very cold and snowy in Oxford and the environs, so Nicholas Elyot's mother is unable to come and spend Christmas with his family and friends. So instead they set out for his cousin Edmond's farm, where Nicholas and his sister Margaret grew up. Their journey is beset by dangers, but they real mystery begins later, at the manor closest to the farm. A new owner is settling in, and has invited a group of troubadours to ...more
Mar 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Many TV series have a 'Christmas episode' where the characters celebrate the season and interact in soap-operatically interesting ways but with an overall heartwarming seasonal vibe. This book is essentially "Oxford Medieval Mysteries - the Christmas Episode'. While there is a mystery and some occasional flashes of action, most of the book was taken up with the difficulties and dangers of travelling to be with the relatives of Christmas (medieval Little Ice Age edition with a lot of snow) plus a ...more
May 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
This Elyot story is set at the family farm during the Christmas season. The historical detail and subplots add to an already intriguing story, especially how historical customs are introduced. While some friends are absent from this story, other characters are further developed.
Threats from France to Edward, the Black Prince land in Nicholas’ lap but not before a harrowing trip from Oxford to the family farm. Dealt with from the Sheriff’s men in escort, the family and friends arrive. Marauding,
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Love this series!

Although I found the beginning a bit slow going - it may have been my mood rather than the writing - I was soon immersed in the worlds of Nicholas and his family and friends. The contrasting settings of city and countryside, servants and The Black Prince, manor houses and modest cottages, are interwoven naturally, with fascinating insights into music and theology, political intrigue and family life - and a developing romance between two people whose pasts make them wary. And Oxf
Jul 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Our new friend Peter has purchased Leighton manor and comes to Oxford bearing greetings from the family. Nicholas and company set off for Christmas on the family farm. After a harrowing journey that has great detail about duty of hospitality and outlaws, a great look at Christmas traditions is provided. Troubadours are expected much to the delight of Nicholas's latest book order. But things are not all smooth when the troupe is attacked in the manor yard. Clearly it was not regular bandits when ...more
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely love this medieval series featuring Nicholas Elyot, Oxford bookseller, and his family and friends. In this adventure, Nicholas and family are off to the countryside to Leighton Manor for Christmas, since his and his sister Margaret's mother is too ill to make the journey in to Oxford in the harsh winter weather. Filled with intricate details of 14th century England after the plague, the author has an uncanny ability to place you right in the middle of the time and place and features a ...more
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Superb Historical

As the 5th tale in the series, it seems as though the author cannot fail at her craft. The characters are so endearing, so lifelike, that one cannot hope not to be immersed from the beginning. You root for everyone from the lowliest servant to the highest lord.

The historical accuracy is incredible and where departures are necessary for the sake of the story, even those asides are presented in such a way that unless you're a scholar of the era, you will not notice the deviation
Hebby Roman
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Although I love all of Ms. Swinfen's books, this was probably my least favorite of the Oxford Medieval Mysteries, as I felt most of the real action to do with the mystery surrounding the Troubadours took place offline in the book. As far as a touching account of a medieval, county Christmas, however, it was awesome. As always, Ms. Swinfen's grasp and use of historical details makes for such easy and enjoyable reading. You feel as if you're transported back 700 years, which is quite an accomplish ...more
Alissa McCarthy
Sep 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I’ve now listened to the entire series and I’m looking with great anticipation for book 6. The writing has gotten better with each tale and I'm still enchanted with learning more details about life in medieval England. Philip Battley's narration makes it that much more fascinating with a voice like pure honey; his voice has that same silky baritone as Kenneth Branagh's. As an aside, if you've not listened to Audible's "Heart of Darkness" narrated by Sir Kenneth, you have missed a singular deligh ...more
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this one because it was set at Christmas, and the description of the holidays was wonderful. It was fascinating to read about the traditions and as always, I felt like I was part of the family.

As usual, our hero manages to get himself mixed up in some dangerous political intrigue but triumphs in the end. And progress is made on the romantic front as well...not a lot, but some.
Mary R
Mar 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
The most annoying thing about the Medieval Mysteries series is realizing there will be a wait until the next book. !!!! The Troubadour's Tale is less mystery then the predecessors but the histotical information about Christmas preparation and celebrations is wonderful a little global warming info.
Mar 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Weakest adventure so far. I get the feeling it is setting up Emma and Nicholas for their relationship to burgeon in future volumes. the troubadour and French missive is a footnote mystery and the author showing off some middle English and Latin ecclesiastical texts something this reviewer glossed over at speed as it added nothing to the novel.
Still, this is a fine series.
Debbie Lynn
Feb 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favorite series of historical fiction. I thoroughly enjoy the characters, the writing and the place/time. This isn’t heavy reading by bogging down the story unnecessarily with the historical details, although the author does not scrimp on info either. It’s nicely balanced with the history as well as a well told story.
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Happy Christmas at Last

I love medieval mysteries and am happy to discover Any Swifen's Oxford mysteries. Even the Nativity season cannot stop the everlasting quarrels between England & France. But Nicholas Eylot knows that things will be set right. As the enemy tries to steal a secret letter from travelling troubadours, Nicholas is determined to protect them & England.
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Troubadour's Tale puts an international spin on Ann Swinfen's Oxford Medieval Mystery Series. As always the characters are way more altruistic than many people in real life and not as well rounded emotionally as they should be. That being said this was a fun read in the end that makes the reader laugh.
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Another wonderful story

Ann Swinfen makes you feel as if you are actually there in 14th century England with Nicholas Elyot and his family. The characters and n plot are interesting and writing is excellent as usual.
Feb 11, 2018 rated it liked it
If I had a dollar for every time Swinfen uses the phrase "You have the right if it," I'd be a wealthy woman. Other than that, Swinfen continues to produce fine medieval cozies, this one set in the Christmas season.
Kathie Frobe
Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A special novel

Beside being a good tale, the inclusion of traditional songs and the special church celebration of Christmas, plus traditional celebration of the holidays of December make this book especially enjoyable.
Feb 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Another wonderful story

I particularly liked this one. Although not as much adventure or intrigue as the earlier books, the view of a country Christmas is delightful. And the mystery exists and is solved.
Debbie Zotian
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Continues the story and the quality.

I've read all five books and enjoyed each one. Without dragging the existing story, Ms Swinfen summarizes the past and keeps the story moving. Well written and researched, she doesn't overwhelm but keeps your interest. Can't wait for Book 6.
Aug 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
This series is back on top form with a very engaging story that concentrates on the characters lives rather than the mystery elements, and is all the better for it.
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Play Book Tag: The Troubadour's Tale by Ann Swinfen - 4 stars 3 10 Feb 09, 2018 03:35PM  

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Ann Swinfen spent her childhood partly in England and partly on the east coast of America. She read Classics and Mathematics at Oxford, where she married a fellow undergraduate, the historian David Swinfen. While bringing up their five children and studying for an MSc in Mathematics and a BA and PhD in English Literature, she had a variety of jobs, including university lecturer, translator, freela ...more

Other books in the series

Oxford Medieval Mysteries (6 books)
  • The Bookseller's Tale (Oxford Medieval Mysteries, #1)
  • The Novice's Tale (Oxford Medieval Mysteries, #2)
  • The Huntsman's Tale (Oxford Medieval Mysteries, #3)
  • The Merchant's Tale (Oxford Medieval Mysteries, #4)
  • The Stonemason's Tale (Oxford Medieval Mysteries #6)