Adelia Aguilar, Mistress of the Art of Death, finds that she has to leave her home in Cambridgeshire before she is summoned to the consistory court to face charges of witchcraft. As she and her household make their escape, they meet up with the traveling entourage of Emma, Lady Wolvercote, who is on the way with her German champion to fight through trial by combat, for property she believes to belong to her noble son. Adelia’s party joins up with Emma’s until she is abruptly summoned to attend to King Henry II. He has used her investigative abilities in the past and has a sudden need for them again. The Welsh are rebelling, and Henry would like to quell their spirit by laying to rest the idea that King Arthur will rise again. He has learned that twenty years ago two bodies were seen being buried in a deep schism that was created during an earthquake in Glastonbury, that most holy of cities. Henry would like Adelia to be able to prove that the bones are Arthur’s. While she feels this task may be impossible and begins her investigation reluctantly, she soon becomes intrigued by the bones and caught up in violence swirling around her. And she is determined to find out what has happened to Emma and her traveling party, who disappeared en route to her mother-in-law’s estate in Wells.
This series not only has a compelling set of characters and intriguing plots, but the late 12th- century setting comes vividly to life. Readers learn more about trial by combat and also how Henry is determined to modernize such traditions. And of course, the mystery of Arthur adds gloss to this story. Several dangling plot lines promise, I hope, a return for this engaging female physician.
Early Medieval (to 1337)
Relics of the Dead
352 (US), 385 (UK)