Blood of the South

Written by Alys Clare
Review by Elizabeth Knowles

In this sixth book of the 11th-century Aelf Fen series, apprentice healer Lassair meets a mysterious, veiled woman on the quay in Cambridge. While helping her and her baby to reach the Fens, Lassair befriends sheriff’s man Jack Chevestrier. She struggles with the magical Shining Stone and those who want her to use it for their own ends. After a great storm, a drowned woman is found. Lassair and Jack try to discover who she is and how she connects to the veiled woman. Lassair worries about baby Leafric’s future. These crosscurrents are interwoven with the adventures of Rollo Guiscard, Lassair’s love, who is in Constantinople on behalf of King William Rufus. Lassair’s extended family thickens the plot.

Readers who like the Norman period in England will enjoy this early-medieval mystery. The English settings are richly described, giving a fascinating glimpse into the Fens of that time. Carrying the story to Constantinople is a bit of a stretch, but apparently Rollo is on his way home, and the next book in the series may bring him and Lassair together again – or not. An entertaining read.