The Priest’s Son (Dodnash Priory Chronicles)

Written by Nicky Moxey
Review by Susan McDuffie

Early 12th century: When Jean’s father leaves France for the Levant, he sends his young son to Dodnash Priory in England, to stay with his old friend Father Wimer. Over the next few years Jean grows to manhood under Wimer’s care and guidance. Despite his attraction to the pretty Edeva, Jean becomes a postulant at Dodnash, and Edeva marries William, a local landowner. When Father Wimer dies, William attempts, through forged charters, to steal lands given to the Priory, as well as land left to Jean. The prior asks Jean to investigate the tangle. His search lasts many years and will bring him into contact with the highest in the land.

Moxey’s novel, her second based on the history of Dodnash Priory, is based on fact. Moxey recounts in an afterword that the Priory was relocated in the early 1200s due to a papal order, and this book attempts to answer the “why” of that move. The novel moves along at a fast clip, covering many years almost too quickly—I grew confused as to the timeline, and how much time had passed since the previous scene. Moxey writes well-researched medieval characters, but I wanted more emotional involvement and development; I felt that, unfortunately, depth of characterization was often subordinated to the tale of lengthy legal battles faced by the priory. Still, The Priest’s Son is a lively medieval novel that should interest fans of this time period, and certainly those readers with an interest in medieval religious houses.