The De Lacy Inheritance
Nobleman Richard FitzEustace returns from the Holy Land suffering from leprosy and, according to the law of the land, must bid farewell to his home and family. Before he enters a nearby leper community, his grandmother asks him to bear a letter to her kinsman, Robert de Lacy at Cliderhou Castle, requesting that he grant her his lands in his will, as she believes they are her entitlement. Richard agrees to do this, and when he arrives, discovers a place of solitude with a cave and a healing spring, that better suit him than the leper hospice. Robert is amenable to granting the old lady’s request, but others have their eyes on his lands too, and conflict swiftly arises. Meanwhile, Richard’s headstrong young sister Johanna has been left at the mercy of her other brother, Roger, who wants her to marry a much older landowner. Johanna refuses, and sets out to find Richard, hoping that he will intercede. In the process, she too becomes involved in the inheritance dispute at Cliderhou.
This is an appealing tale of daily life in the 12th century. The subject of lepers and their place in the community is fascinating. Richard FitzEustace is a complex hero, filled with guilt and self-doubt, but nevertheless striving to rise above his demons and do his best as he sees fit. Johanna is a sparky heroine with whom readers will readily engage. Richard and Johanna’s dilemmas concerning lands, marriage, and their place in society are very much of their time. Although not billed as a young adult novel, I feel The de Lacy Inheritance would especially suit this particular market.