The Fifth Knight
Originally released as a Kindle Serial, The Fifth Knight is a handy twist on the Becket murder and is, from this reader’s perspective, a most worthy one.
The eponymous knight, Benedict Palmer, is a hanger-on of sorts at the scene of one of the most dastardly deeds recorded in history, the murder of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1170. He frankly doesn’t realize what he’s signed on for as a mercenary, but to work his way out of the devastating poverty in which he grew up, he agrees to one final, lucrative job for King Henry II. When the five knights leave the cathedral, with the anchoress, Theodosia, who witnessed their murder of Becket, in tow as a prisoner, Benedict doesn’t expect to find himself reacting to protect her – but his better angels compel it. Benedict springs her, and much of the balance of the book is a romp.
While the other four knights, all historical personages, track Benedict and Theodosia so they can dispose of the witnesses to their crime, the two escapees come to realize that there are many layers to Theodosia’s relationship to Becket. There are secrets to be known, and the journey will not be complete until those secrets see the light of day.
Benedict and Theodosia, as different as they are, complement each other. They are attractive, fleshed out characters, and it doesn’t take long for a reader to become part of their literal and figurative journey. As much as this novel is a story about a specific event and a time and place, it is more an exploration of these two people and how each came to be formed as they were. In that, Powell does a masterful job. Highly recommended.