The Master of Medicine

Written by Ellin Carsta
Review by Ilysa Magnus

In Cologne in 1395, Madlen Goldmann is living a quiet domestic existence with her husband, Johannes, an attorney who is counsel to the Archbishop, and their two young children. When Madlen’s aunt tells the couple that Johannes’ father, Peter, is now blind, Johannes must do his duty as a good son and go to take care of his family business in Worms, despite his very responsible job. But when the murders of two of the Archbishop’s closest advisors occur in quick succession, Johannes is called back to Cologne to investigate.

At that point, the story truly begins to focus on Madlen, a healer of some repute in her past, and one who had been prosecuted as a result of the death of a mother and a child in Heidelberg years before. When it becomes clear to those around her, and particularly to an attractive, brilliant young doctor, that Madlen is very skilled, Madlen begins on the path of learning more and employing her healing talents again, despite society’s unwillingness to encourage her. Meanwhile, in Cologne, Johannes unravels a complex plot, almost becomes a victim of his investigation, and succeeds in protecting the Archbishop.

This is the second in the series (I have not read the first, The Secret Healer) and a fine stand-alone. Fascinating details about the state of medicine in medieval Europe kept me engrossed, and particularly that women could study to be doctors in Italy and practice medicine at that time. The characters are complex and fully fleshed out. Madlen, in particular, is an attractive, centered, persuasive and well-rounded character who succeeds in teaching her family that not following her dreams is a greater sin than refusing to acknowledge them. I enjoyed this book immensely.