The Sanctity of Hate
In the summer of 1276, the last Jews of England are scurrying to cities of refuge to comply with King Edward I’s new statute. Jacob ben Asser, his mother-in-law, wife and a maidservant are detained in the neighborhood of Tyndale Priory because of the wife’s difficult pregnancy, nearing term. They soon become suspects in the murder of a stranger to the town who had been hired as their guardian when other Jews have been robbed. Riots threaten among the populace, and soon there are other victims. Prioress Eleanor, Crowner Ralf and other recurring characters investigate.
I found the list of period Christians’ positive statements about Jews encyclopedic and useful if not novelistic. This ninth of the series is the first I have read. Characters sketchily drawn no doubt have a lot more going for them over the whole series. The focus on Ralf and Gytha here will prove interesting to those who follow the series. Long stretches of speech without tags were confusing to me. I felt a disappointing lack of a sense of being near the North Sea, and birthing scenes were unconvincing. Royal is among the many trying to fill Brother Cadfael’s shoes with limited success, but a breezy read.