Undaunted is the word for Holland, who's written 16 novels since 1966, most of them historicals. Her latest looks back to 14th-century France, the battles between the Valois and the Plantagenets, between a young Breton lord and the greedy relatives who disinherit him. Granted, Everard de Vaumartin doesn't seem to have the necessary fire to guard his demesne from the marauding English; still, he volunteers to join his uncle Josseran in the French stand against King Edward at Crecy. After the French defeat, Everard stumbles to Paris, destitute and confused. There, he takes up with an alchemist, suffers through the plague, then enrolls at the university to study with the great philosophers. ""Whether the World is in the Mind, or the Mind is in the World"" is just one of the questions that haunt Everard, eventually leading him into the thicket of heretical thought. His lectures grow dangerously atheistic, so he quits the university to clerk for the Provost of Paris, Etienne Marcel. After the English trounce the French again at Poitiers, Parisians revolt under Marcel, with Everard's voice alone raised in words of caution. When the Dauphin marches back into the city, Everard is offered whatever he desires for his loyalty. Instead of claiming the rights to Vaumartin, he asks for a glass bubble, with which he will continue to ponder the mysteries of the universe. Holland's plot is aimless, but she expertly dramatizes the pomp and gore of the chivalric age, the raucous history of Paris, and the curious intellectual pursuits of the day.