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The Assassin's Prayer

(Mistress of the Art of Death #4)

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  6,778 ratings  ·  755 reviews
The King of England has ordered his Mistress of the Art of Death - anatomist and doctor Adelia Aguilar - to accompany 10-year-old Princess Joanna on her thousand-mile journey to marry the King of Sicily. They must take with them the legendary sword Excalibur.

And so Adelia sets sail with the golden princess and her lavish procession of nobles, musicians, servants,
Paperback, 384 pages
Published July 8th 2010 by Bantam Press (first published 2010)
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Marie I'm following this too--I read that Samantha Norman was going to complete the series--I'm hoping that it will come out this year but I haven't heard…moreI'm following this too--I read that Samantha Norman was going to complete the series--I'm hoping that it will come out this year but I haven't heard of any updates since an interview that she gave last year saying that she was "working on it."(less)

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Adelia is "on the road" returning back to Sicily this entire book. It's not for a pleasure trip, but to accompany Henry II's daughter Joanna to her marriage with the King of Sicily. Henry II has ordered her skills again and the trip separates her from her daughter Allie and several other main characters. But we get Ulf and the dog along, and on the way she picks up a new main household servant named Boggart.

The first half of the book is slow and Rowley seems almost peripheral, although he is in
Jamie Collins
I liked this very much, even though the book ends with a wrenching cliffhanger and the author has died, so there will be no resolution. We are left with some of our characters achingly separated from the others, and with one character in the process of bleeding to death. I'm sure the author didn't intend to die before she could write another book, but I dislike such cliffhangers in general.

Otherwise, this is an odd story, but enjoyable. Adelia accompanies the king's young daughter Joanna to her
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars Disppointed by this last one in the series. The other ones were more vibrant and less predictable. This one went on a bit. Nevertheless I'm sorry this series has finished because Ariana Franklin (Diana Norman) died in 2011.
 Linda (Miss Greedybooks)
I liked the other 3 previous books better. Some of the characters did not go on this adventure, and they were missed... others were brought back and I would have rather have them not.

The romantic stories were pretty much missed at every opportunity.

I hope there will be a 5th book and the issues above will be different.
First Sentence: Between the parishes of Shepfold and Martlake in Somerset existed an area of no-man’s-land and a lot of ill feeling.

Dr. Adelia Aguilar is thrilled to learn Henry II wants to send her to accompany his daughter Joanna’s wedding procession to her home of Sicily. Her feelings change to anger when she learns Henry is keeping Adelia’s daughter in England to ensure Adelia’s return. With them, and well concealed, will be Arthur’s sword, Excaliaber, as a gift to the bridegroom. Danger a
Definitely read this thinking it was the first in the series. WHOOPS.

As such, I found it super confusing and completely unmemorable.

It was so bland I can't even be bothered tracking down the first book of the series and re-attempting it. Oh well.

Hopefully it was a bit more satisfactory to those who read the previous three books!
L.E. Fidler
ok, i love this series, but overall, i felt very...conflicted...after this installment.

i have NEVER loved rowley, he is not my first choice for adelia. he's sort of like "mr. big" to adelia's medieval carrie. only, in the case of the television show, i LIKED mr. big.

i don't know. the premise here is that scarry (whose name i agonized over pronouncing. i have some bizarre totally connotation-created mental picture of him as a cross between one of richard scarry's plucky animal-people and
This is the fourth book in the series, but I’m not sure whether it is the final one. I know the author has passed away, and her final book was completed by a family member, but I think it starts decades before the Adelia Aguilar series, so I’m not sure whether there is any connection or not.

It was a good read - as they always are, easy to follow and full of details about life in the 12th century. It's a little bit sad if this is the last there is of Adelia Aguilar and Rowley...
Mary Lawrence
Dec 28, 2018 rated it liked it
I love Ariana Franklin's writing. That being said, the final book in the Mistress of the Art of Death series did not pull me in like her other work. Again we have Scarry, her former nemesis, stalking her. This time he follows her from England to Italy as she accompanies Princess Joanna Plantagenet on her journey to marry the King of Sicily.
While Franklin's writing is always high caliber and engaging, this time the plot did not dazzle. Not that much happened and I struggled reading it because I
Carolyn F.

I am so freaking sad that this is the last book in the series which I'm 99% positive was because of the death of the author. I would have loved to see whether (view spoiler) There's just so much that was left of the story. I'm so sad that we don't
Richard Derus
Rating: 3.75* of five

The fourth "Mistress of the Art of Death" mystery in the ongoing series, this book was a grave (!) disappointment. To my *intense* irritation, Franklin chose to reveal the identity of the murderer for sure and certain on p19.

I ask nineteen...what in Satan's name (appropriate to the case, here, as Scarry-the-Satanist is the killer) possessed her to do that?! And what addlepated editor thought it was a good idea?!

One whole star off for that.

I was still reeling from
A Murderous Procession is the fourth installment in the medieval mystery series, The Mistress on the Art of Death series, by Ariana Franklin (who sadly passed away in 2011). The series features Ariana Aguilar, a medically trained doctor from Salerno (at this time-the 12th century-women were allowed in Salerno to become doctors) and her assistant, the eunuch Mansur. Adelia is forced by King Henry II to accompany his 10 year old daughter, Joanna (the titular "procession") who is on her way to ...more
MB (What she read)
Wow! That was an intense book! I had to stop and take a break mid-way because the suspense was getting to me. The book ends on somewhat of a cliff-hanger with lots of loose ends for the next book, or books. I'm not sure how I feel about the way the story was left. But it certainly builds my anticipation for the next Adelia story.

I found myself thinking throughout how Adelia's troubles and interactions with the male-dominated Catholic church of that time were so pertinent to what I've been
Jan 31, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Getting a bit 'samey' now. Predictable and nothing like as enjoyable as the first couple of books. The info on the Cathars was interesting but on the whole I think the series has run it's course. I won't be getting the next, if there is one.
Barb in Maryland
This 4th book featuring Adelia Aguilar is a very mixed bag. Henry II insists that Adelia(and most of her household) accompany his young daughter Joanna on Joanna's bridal journey to Sicily. Henry wants someone who really knows medicine along to keep his daughter healthy. And to insure Adelia comes back to England, Henry arranges for Adelia's daughter to "stay" with Eleanor of Aquitaine while Adelia is away.
So the bulk of the story involves the trek from England to Sicily. And it looks like
May 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read a whole bunch of books over the last few months and this series is the only one I remember enough to rate, so that says something. Nothing brilliant here, but intelligent fun in the medieval world. King Richard! I love her take on this king, how he's been pretty besmirched in history and yet he is responsible for bringing some of the earliest laws of justice for all. And a different take on Eleanor of Aquitaine, and all their pesky children. The characters are great. It has a modern ...more
Ravin Maurice
Mar 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The fourth installment of the Mistress of the Art of Death series did not disappoint.
Ariana Franklin (may she rest in peace, the world lost a brilliant voice) has a way of turning the medieval world into a place that you feel like you know really well, like you've lived there your entire life. Her characters are well rounded, even the ones that have small parts (I'm speaking of Fabrisse in this particular book), and her plotting is brilliant, a true mystery that keeps you up at night so you can
The 4th book and I was hoping to see some character development but it seems that the main characters are trapped by the plot demands including more personal danger for Adelia. However, Ulf was a pleasure and Boggart as well, but no Gyltha, although I am glad that someone is willing to teach her daughter some social skills. There was a lot of religion which got a bit slow and draggy in the middle, with lots of travelling side trips that didn't really move the main story along.

Personally, I think
This book took forever to get going. Maybe it was the baggage from the three previous novels. The author, Diana Norman writing as Ariana Franklin, has so much detail of 12th Century Europe which she delights in laying before us.

Among the elements are:
The trappings and rituals of royalty;
The skills of the medicant, herbalist and surgeon; and,
The time of heretics: Cathars, Jews, Saracens, and the role of priests.

This novel takes a long time to get going, particularly for a reader of the previous
4 Stars

Its the end of an era. The last in this series, that was actually written by the author.

This story seems more fleshed out to me, and even more danger for Adelia as times are changing in Europe. With the christian church converting folk; whether folks want to be converted or not. Being anything other than white, anglo male is frowned upon. It is the beginning of punishment of those, for what the church views heretics, witches, saracens, etc. Adelia, Mansur and company tread on thin ice
Sharon Bolton
Jan 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Fourth, and so sadly, the last in the Adelia Aguilar series, but every bit as engrossing and engaging as the previous three. Mediaeval pathologist (you have to read the books, trust me, it works) Adelia is sent by Henry 11, one of my favourite characters in literature, on a trip to Sicily to a) safeguard his daughter's health and b) hand over Excalibur to his friend and future son-in-law, the King of Sicily. Tricky enough in those days, but to make matters worse an assassin, with an old score to ...more
What a joy and delight that the fourth book in a series is as wonderfully written as the previous three! In fact, it may even be my favorite one yet. Of course, having just finished it gives it an advantage over the others. The character of Adelia Aguilar is simply one of which I can't get enough. Franklin lets Adelia continue to grow and evolve as the events around her places her in the middle of history and danger. The relationship with Rowley (who doesn't love a forbidden love?) also ...more

Ok still great time era, research, details etc. But my least favorite of this series.

Adelia and Rowley: I'm a fan but treading water a LOT in this relationship. Also Adelia was particularly whiney here to me.
Ulf; Love seeing him back!!!
Scarey: UGH I HATED HIM! I was so mad he wasn't resolved last book, and here he is, we know who he is most the book, he talks in italics, UGH I HATE HIM.

Sep 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

This is the last in the Mistress of the art of Death series, sadly because Ariana Franklin passed away in 2011, and it is as just as wonderful as the others. Adelia Aguilar is one of my favorite historical characters in her non nonsense attitude to life, including physical appearance, social class and most particularly, being a female doctor at a time and in countries where this was regarded as abhorrent.

The plot this time involves a journey as the blurb says and it was fascinating to
Bonnie Wilson
Another entertaining read in this entertaining series. I feel much less guilty about this candy because there is at least a kernel of historical justification for our liberated heroine in the actual existence of a medical school that admitted women in Salerno. Also, I enjoy the portrayal of Henry II in these books because when I saw the movie "Becket" I was vastly amused by Peter O'Toole's utterly dominating the film and totally stealing every scene from Burton's dreary Becket. Besides, I ...more
Ram Kaushik
Aug 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well researched and atmospheric book, set in the time of Richard Plantaganet. A feisty heroine navigates complex politics and intrigue while investigating dark deeds - enjoyable!
Jul 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the fourth in Ms. Franklin’s “Mistress of the Art of Death” series and sadly, due to her passing away, it is the last. In this book King Henry II forces Adelia Aguilar to accompany the Princess Joanna to Sicily for her wedding. Adelia is the only real medical authority he trusts to watch over his ten year old daughter on the long and arduous journey.

Adelia is slightly reluctant about making the trip even though it is to her homeland but after nearly ten years in England she has grown to
Apr 10, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I've mixed emotions about this one. I love the series and wanted it to go on, but with the death of Ariana Franklin a few years back, this is the last book in the Mistress of the Art of Death series. I'm so glad I discovered the books, each one was better than the previous one. I've grown to feel a sentimental, personal attachment to the characters; the lovely, independent Adelia Aguilar, the Mistress of the art of death, who is confined to England by the King Henry II; her lover, Bishop Rowley, ...more
Apr 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
This series has been one of my favorites, and I was so sorry to read that the author has died. Although this is not the best in the series, still there are some fascinating things to learn about life in the early middle ages. The main character in this series is a female forensic medical examiner who has to pretend that her manservent is actually the doctor, lest she be killed as a witch. In this book, she is to accompany the King of England's daughter to Sicily, where she is to marry the king ...more
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Ariana Franklin was the pen name of British writer Diana Norman. A former journalist, Norman had written several critically acclaimed biographies and historical novels. She lived in Hertfordshire, England, with her husband, the film critic Barry Norman.

The Death Maze (UK) is published as The Serpent's Tale in the US.
Relics of the Dead (UK) is published as Grave Goods in the US.

Other books in the series

Mistress of the Art of Death (4 books)
  • Mistress of the Art of Death (Mistress of the Art of Death, #1)
  • The Serpent's Tale (Mistress of the Art of Death, #2)
  • Grave Goods (Mistress of the Art of Death, #3)