A nun and a monk defy death and dishonor at her family's Welsh fortress...
In the winter of 1271, Death stalks the corridors of Wynethorpe Castle on the Welsh border. When the Grim Reaper touches the beloved grandson of the castle lord, Baron Adam sends for his daughter, Prioress Eleanor of Tyndal, and her sub-infirmarian, Sister Anne, to save the child with prayers and healing talents. Escorting them to the remote fortress is Brother Thomas, an unwilling monk fighting his private demons.
Death may be denied once in his quest for souls but never twice. Soon after the trio arrives, an important guest is murdered. The prioress's brother, bloody dagger in hand, stands over the corpse. All others may believe in his guilt, but Eleanor is convinced her brother is innocent.
Outside her priory, in a world of armed men, Eleanor may have little authority, but she is determined to untangle the Gordian knot of thwarted passions and old resentments even if it means defying her father, a man with whom she longs to make peace. As passions rise with the winter wind and time runs short, Eleanor, Anne and Thomas struggle to find the real killer.
This is Priscilla Royal's second murder mystery set in the 13th century - and it's a true delight. Royal continues with the characters she introduced in 'Wine of Violence' (2003) - the gutsy young prioress of Tyndal Abbey, Eleanor, and her companions, Sister Anne, a nun skilled in medicine, and Brother Thomas, an unwilling monk and and unseemingly handsome (for a monk) man with a complex past - more about which we'll undoubtedly learn in later volumes. The first installment was set in Tyndal, but in Tyrant of the Mind, Eleanor, Sister Anne and Brother Thomas have traveled to Eleanor's family seat on the borders of Wales where her nephew is very sick. Before long the bodies start falling, almost as thick and fast as the snow on the ground (which prevents anyone calling for the local sheriff - thus setting the scene for a classic country house murder mystery, albeit set in a very drafty 13th century castle).
The joy of Royal's books is the way in which she brings the 13th century to life, illustrating the hardships and pleasures of life for real people of the period.
Royal's Author's Note at the end of the book is also well worth reading for the background information she provides on the period. In fact, if it wasn't for the fact that some of her references might give away elements of the plot I'd recommend you read it first. (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Hidden personal traumas reveal themselves against the grim backdrop of a border castle in unstable times. This realistic medieval fare will appeal to devotees of Ellis Peters's Brother Cadfael series.
Eleanor, forceful or diplomatic by turns, is an engaging and resourceful heroine, and Brother Thomas shows surprising depths and strengths. Royal brings her 13th-century world vividly and artfully to life in a series sure to have a bright future.
Sheldon Siegel, author of The Confession
Priscilla Royal returns with another carefully nuanced and beautifully researched story. Prioress Eleanor, Sister Anne and Brother Thomas are wonderfully drawn and fully realized characters. With Tyrant of the Mind, Priscilla Royal takes her place as one of the masters of the genre. Highly recommended.
Priscilla Royal grew up in British Columbia and has a
degree in world literature from San Francisco State University, where
she discovered the beauty of medieval literature. Until recently, she
worked for the Federal government in a variety of positions. She is a theater fan as well as reader of
history, mysteries, and fiction of lesser violence. She now lives in
Northern California and belongs to the California Writers Club and
Sisters in Crime.
When she published her first book,
of Violence in late 2003, Priscilla Royal gave credit to the team at her publishers,
Poisoned Pen Press, 'for making my 50-year-old dream come true'.
Useful link: Priscilla
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