The Serpent's Tale
takes readers to the upper Thames Valley, near Wallingford, in 12th
In a novel filled with unexpected twists, one ongoing surprise is the medieval
protagonist herself -- a skilled and secretly practicing forensic pathologist!
Dr. Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar was educated not in England, then
shackled by religious and superstitious restrictions against women, but at the
"forward-thinking, internationally admired School of Medicine in Salerno*, which
defied the Church by enrolling women into its studies."
Adelia is probably the only anatomist in England at this time male or female
and the King uses her unique abilities to solve a string of criminal and medical
mysteries. Any book containing autopsies and gruesome deaths is not for the squeamish, but
Beyond the Book
The Serpent's Tale is set during a richly interesting time in English history
(approximately the same time period as Ken Follet's
The Pillars of the Earth and Ellis Peters's Cadfael novels, which
many may know best through the 1990s TV series starring Derek Jacobi). Through Adelia's
all-access pass to Henry II, readers hear tell of ongoing political intrigues
and scheming power plays. Threads of these histories can become tangled
quickly; so, a cursory overview of royal lineage and a simplified path of the
English crown may prove helpful in illuminating some the historical events that
form the backdrop to The Serpent's Tale.
A Plantagenet Primer
(1133-1189), the first Plantagenet*...