A summons from Eleanor of Aquitaine changes the lives of Abbess Helewise of Hawkenlye and Sir Josse d’Acquin.
The English queen’s letter informs the abbess that a chapel will be built at Hawkenlye in memory of Eleanor’s recently deceased son, King Richard the Lionheart. In addition, Eleanor wishes to see Sir Josse, though her reasons are a closely guarded secret. When the weary travelers arrive on an island off the French coast, Eleanor orders Helewise to Chartres, where she can engage stonemasons and carpenters to build the new chapel. Josse, meanwhile, is ordered to find out the truth about rumors linking Richard with a group of knights purported to be devil-worshipers who sacrifice young boys and practice unspeakable sexual acts. He sets out in search of the knights’ leader Philippe de Loup, who, along with his men, is guarding a secret passed on for generations. The trail of corpses left by Philippe leads to Chartres, where Josse meets his lover Joanna. A powerful force among the worshippers of the old religion, she has come to guard the seat of ancient power that will be covered by the new cathedral. Inevitably, all but Joanna are led back to Hawkenlye, where, in a time of great danger and personal upheaval, Josse will seek the truth and Helewise will make weighty decisions about the new chapel.
Another winner in Clare’s medieval series (The Paths of the Air, 2008, etc.), thanks to a canny brew of mysticism, romance and adventure.