Dispensation of Death


1325: the reign of Edward II.England is in the grip of tyranny. Not so much from the reigning king, who though weak-willed is not actually cruel, but his ruthless and greedy lover Sir Hugh le Despenser. Queen Isabella has been very effectively sidelined; robbed of her lands, her authority and her children, she is all but a prisoner in the Palace of Westminster. War threatens: with France, again. Edward must go to pay homage to the French king. But how can he bend his knee to another sovereign and retain his own authority? Sir Hugh cannot go to France with Edward, or the French monarch will kill him; he cannot remain in England or the English barons will murder him—just as they did Piers Gaveston. Isabella is trapped and desperate.

Into this hotbed of intrigue comes Sir Baldwin de Furnshill, Keeper of the King’s Peace in Devon, with his friend and companion, Simon Puttock, bailiff to the Abbot of Tavistock. They are brought to court by Bishop Walter de Stapledon, whom it soon becomes clear is a man of many parts. Murder occurs in the Palace of Westminster, but this being the English court, nothing is quite as it appears. A fiendishly complex intrigue rapidly turns into a compelling game of bluff and double bluff played out for the highest stakes.

The result: a page-turning masterpiece that will keep the reader totally gripped until the very last page. Highly recommended.

 Fiona Lowe

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