A play of Lords

Written by Margaret Frazer
Review by Nina de Angeli

As Parliament meets in autumn 1435, London offers diversions aplenty to the lords temporal and spiritual. When actor-playwright Joliffe and his company of itinerant players perform for their patron’s grand banquet, their acting skills catch the eye of the powerful Bishop Beaufort. Beaufort is a player in more dangerous games, jockeying for lucrative trade deals and for influence over young King Henry VI. Much to the players’ profit, Joliffe is commissioned to write a drama for their performances, one that will mock the politically unpopular French king and his Burgundian allies.

Eventually Beaufort recruits Joliffe to join his network of spies. After the murder of another of the Bishop’s spies, the players must seek the killer before they too become victims of the nobility’s political games. In the end the thick fog of political intrigue overwhelms the rather slight mystery. But as always in this series, Frazer creates a rich tapestry of medieval life with a complex historical background. Her characters are warm and engaging, conveying the spirit of life on the edge as experienced by the itinerant players. Fourth in series.