Monday, March 31, 2014
the serpent's tale
the serpent's tale
mistress of the art of death #2
Since she solved a particularly nasty case of a child murder using her forensic skills, Adelia Aguilar is deemed too valuable to send back to the School of Medicine in Salerno where she was trained. Instead, King Henry II has decided to keep her in England. This is bad news for Adelia - in free-thinking Salerno, women doctors are accepted but in twelfth-century England they're unheard of and regarded as witches. Under suspicion, and with her illegitimate child, Adelia is forced to live and practice in the secrecy of Cambridgeshire's fenland. But at Henry's court, terrible things are happening. Out of jealousy, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine is not only stirring up revolt against her husband, rumor has it that she has also poisoned Fair Rosamund Clifford - the King's favorite mistress. If Henry believes the stories, England will be torn apart as King battles Queen. In a race against time to prove that Eleanor is at least innocent of Rosamund's murder, Adelia is recruitd by Rowley, her former lover and father of her child, to help avoid a civil war. It isn't easy. An assassin is on the loose and so is Queen Eleanor with a small army. Adelia encounters both as, in the middle of a terrible medieval winter, she tries to pierce the physical and metaphorical maze that surrounds Rosamund's tower and they mystery of the dead woman who lies frozen inside.
Historical fiction is not my favorite genre. It's not even my second favorite genre. In fact, I think I can count on one hand the number of historical fiction books I've read. Ariana Franklin's Mistress of the Art of Death was a book I read for a book group years ago and I loved it. The idea of a woman medical examiner back in the twelfth century was fascinating and the murders she was solving were captivating.
This time around I wasn't so enamored with this Mistress. Adelia is the same, for the most part, but this story wasn't my cup of tea. Too much talk of kings and queens and treason and plotting and God. There were so many characters to keep track of I would forget who was who and the way that Franklin cloaks her mystery from the reader makes things confusing at times. As if I'm missing something. And I guess I am. I was frustrated with Rowley and irritated at Adelia's forced citizenship.
Had this been the first book of Adelia I wouldn't have read any more after it. As it stands I did purchase the third book so I'll probably read that one as well. Hopefully the case will be more up my alley.