Tyrant of the Mind
In the bitter cold winter of 1271, Prioress Eleanor of Tyndal returns to her father’s castle on the Welsh border. Her young nephew is ailing from a mysterious illness, and Eleanor has brought her infirmarian to attend the young boy, together with Brother Thomas, an intelligent and attractive young monk who reluctantly joined the priesthood. Eleanor’s brother, Robert, is discovered kneeling over the body of the son of an old man holding the bloody knife. Although the family doesn’t believe he is capable of murder, his father calls for the sheriff. Eleanor and her party intend to solve the crime before the storm abates and the sheriff arrives.
The time period comes alive for the reader in Royal’s descriptions of the people, the castle and most especially the mindset of the times. While we know the people loved their children, worried about the future, and paid their bills, their thought processes are distant to us. Thankfully, with her vast knowledge of medieval life, Ms. Royal does not force the characters to fit into 21st century preconceptions. A jacket blurb comparison to Brother Cadfael is appropriate: her books are as good, but significantly different.