Posts Tagged ‘historical mystery’
London, 1385. Surrounded by ruthless courtiers—including his powerful uncle, John of Gaunt, and Gaunt’s flamboyant mistress, Katherine Swynford—England’s young, still untested king, Richard II, is in mortal peril, and the danger is only beginning. Songs are heard across London—catchy verses said to originate from an ancient book that prophesies the end of England’s kings—and among the book’s predictions is Richard’s assassination. Only a few powerful men know that the cryptic lines derive from a “burnable book,” a seditious work that threatens the stability of the realm. To find the manuscript, wily bureaucrat Geoffrey Chaucer turns to fellow poet John Gower, a professional trader in information with connections high and low. Gower discovers that the book and incriminating evidence about its author have fallen into the unwitting hands of innocents, who will be drawn into a labyrinthine conspiracy that reaches from the king’s court to London’s slums and stews–and potentially implicates his own son. As the intrigue deepens, it becomes clear that Gower, a man with secrets of his own, may be the last hope to save a king from a terrible fate. (From Goodreads)
Definitely not a book to be read in a quick setting. Are you into literary figures? Historical fiction? Historical mystery filled with spies and intrigue? Something that takes place in the Middle Ages? All of the above in one book? Sure! Let’s take it!
I’d have to say, there can be no better description of the Middle Ages than in this book. Everything was so visual and well written. The setting itself has good amounts of description, the characters definitely helped as well. They even had the mannerisms and speech of the time.
Speaking of characters.
Oh Chaucer. No. Just no. I don’t like you. He’s not exactly painted in the most best of light here is he? Manipulative, wife stealer, even with his supposed close friend he’s not upfront and honest with. You definitely have sympathy with Gower here. Even though he has a questionable job and past with his son Simon, he’s still a much more likable character than Chaucer in my opinion. Other characters that I liked; Edgar/Eleanor – the story arc with Millicent and Agnes was a good one. I enjoyed their side of the story with the ‘dregs’ of society. Another character I liked, Hawkwood. Yes he’s an odious villain that oozed all the horrible things you didn’t like. But he was such an awesome villain! Cold, calculating, and not one to trifle with when you get on his bad side and think you can get away with (that poor sod – those who read the book should know what I’m talking about)
The plot itself was pretty good. Lots of plot twists and turns. You’re left peeling layer after layer of intrigue and mystery while you get to the bottom of it. Once you had it figured out there’s still more left to figure out. I enjoyed it! There’s something about all the layers of intrigue that makes it a more compelling read.
However, a couple of things that made this read a not so easy one. The amount of characters. Quite a few to keep track of. So this isn’t the type of book that you can drop and come back to after a while (I mistakenly did that unfortunately, as life got in the way). You need to take you time, get to know the characters, the plot and how everything comes together. It sometimes can get a little confusing so some extra attention is needed while reading this book. Also, have a dictionary beside you. I suppose to keep with the medieval thing, there’s some medieval terminology that you’ll need to familiarize yourself with. It adds more to the book but I could have done without it. To be on the bright side, my vocabulary has increased with various middle age words.
Overall, take the time to read the book and enjoy. The spinning and weaving of the web and trying to find the center spot is fun and always is a treat to read when figuring out a historical mystery. Greatly recommended for Hist-fic fans.
I give it a 6 out of 10.
Thank you William Morrow for providing me a review copy!
Amelia Peabody, indomitable Victorian, embarks for Egypt armed with confidence, journal, and umbrella. Enroute to Cairo, she rescues dainty Evelyn, abandoned by her lover. They sail up the Nile to the archeological dig of the Emerson brothers – irascible but dashing Radcliffe and amiable Walter. A lively mummy, visitations, accidents, kidnap attempt – evil is afoot. (From Goodreads)
This book went off to a bit of a slow start, but it was a nice introduction to Amelia and how she came to be. I enjoy her character, she stands out in Victorian society, she’s strong willed and fiercely independent. Evelyn comes along later in the plot and she’s the complete opposite. Yet the two are fast friends and compliment each other. When the Emerson brothers are introduced, one can already come to conclusions as to who goes out with who. They make cute couples, although Amelia and her love interest was the best of the two couples (love their bantering)
The plot itself is a really nice mixture of historical fiction and mystery. There’s elements of thriller/horror in the plot itself so as it progresses. The mystery doesn’t really start until at least a third way into the story. There is a supernatural element into the story as well, but of course, being a historical mystery, there’s a logical explanation to it all.
The only few criticisms I have of this story is the slow pace of it, character development is fine and fills the plot in between, but it’s not until you read further into the book does the mystery intensify and become more thrilling.
Still, it’s worth a read. Historical mystery lovers will enjoy the start of what looks like a great series. I’ll be looking for the second one to read as well.
I give it an 8 out of 10
Japan, 1703. On a snowy night, 47 warriors murder the man at the center of the scandal that turned them from samurai into masterless ronin two years before. Clearly this was an act of revenge–but why did they wait so long? And is there any reason they should not immediately be ordered to commit ritual suicide? Sano Ichiro, demoted from Chamberlain to his old post as Most Honorable Investigator of Events, Situations, and People, has mere days to solve the greatest mystery of samurai legend–while his own fortunes hang in the balance. (from Goodreads)
I’m still a loyal reader of Sano Ichiro novels. I love them. I love the mystery, the political intrigue and how Sano is always dangling by the thread but manages to save the day but there’s always something looming around the corner where he’ll be dangling by a thread again.
This one was good, loyal readers will enjoy this and new readers will also like this. Background information on the 47 ronin helps a bit but not necessary. The title is a bit misleading, the Mistress is mentioned, but she doesn’t really play such a huge role in the book nevertheless. The plot was pretty good. Lots of twists and turns, and when you get towards the ending that’s where everything is so skillfully packed in you’ll feel like rereading it again just in case you missed something important. It’s always the last third of the book that gets you in the gut!
The only gripe I have, and I’ve been ranting about this for the past few novels now is the mystical Hirata issue. Please stop. It’s getting ridiculous and I’m finding when Hirata is featured, I’m starting to dread it. He used to be a personal favorite. Now he’s become this annoying mystical pest and I don’t care if he can feel auras of other people and can meditate in pretzel format (no, he doesn’t do this, but you know what I mean). He’s starting to become something I don’t want to read about. Please stop before you go further. This series DOES NOT need anything supernatural. Keep it real. Please.
Loyal fans will like this, newbies will too. A great historical read (and not many features in medieval Japan!) give it a go!
I give it an 8 out of 10
As a midwife in turn-of-the-century New York, Sarah Brandt has seen pain and joy. Now she will work for something more — a search for justice — in a case of murder involving one of New York’s richest families. (From Amazon.ca)
The endless detail gives this book a good sense of historical accuracy. The sights and smells are well described and definitely give a good picture of the setting. The plot however, was a bit slow paced and it took me a bit of time get into this book and be interested enough to finish.
The main character, Sarah is very well done though. I like her independence and how she broke away from her high society obligations. It’s admirable especially for a woman during this time period. She’s able to make a name of herself and become self sufficient. Besides her independence she also had a bit of a temper, which makes a fun read but also gave her a bit of spark of life to her character (which was needed, because the plot remained flat for a while.) If it were not for Sarah, I’d probably would have set the book down and moved onto something else.
Frank on the other hand, I found hard to like. Not because he was mean or bad (well he was rather stubborn and pig headed, and was a bit rude to Sarah at times) but I didn’t find him very interesting to begin with. His personality was pretty boring and the potential chemistry he has going with Sarah, well I don’t feel that it’s really there. He improves a little towards the end of the book but it wasn’t enough to change my mind about him.
The plot, although slow, had few interesting hooks with it. What really got my attention was the last third of the book because all of a sudden you’re blinded with a very shocking (and might I add really skin crawling) revelation So, in some part, the slow pace of the plot was forgivable, because the ending really did make up for it.
Those who have a taste for historical mysteries might be able to like this one. The book isn’t really that long, it’s the pace that makes it long. I say stick with it, it’s worth the read – if only to see Sarah argue with Frank.
I give it a 6/10