Mosse returns to Languedoc, her favored historical territory, for a swashbuckler about a purloined inheritance and religious persecution.
The main plot of this series launch—set in 1562, during the regency of Catherine de Medici—has all the ingredients of a fairy-tale adventure. Mosse's young heroine, Minou Joubert, daughter of a Carcassonne bookseller, is actually of noble birth. Puzzling out exactly how this came to be is the book’s main agenda. The principal players are Minou, her father, Bernard, her brother, Aimeric, and younger sister, Alis. All are Huguenots, members of the often persecuted French Protestant minority. They find an ally in Piet, a Protestant soldier of fortune. Piet and Minou are struck by un coup de foudre—love at first sight. The villains are Blanche, who is the third wife and now widow of Lord Bruyère of Puivert, whom, italicized passages reveal, she poisoned. Blanche hopes to retain the Puivert lands and titles by producing an heir, although she is pregnant not by Bruyère but by her lover, Vidal, a priest (who also happens to be Piet’s estranged friend). Vidal hopes Blanche’s influence can help him usurp a bishop’s throne, and he also plots to take credit for recovering the stolen Shroud of Antioch, even if it means passing off a fake relic as the real thing. Blanche is desperate to locate, and destroy, a will that is the sole evidence of a competing claim to her late husband's estate. Amid battles, Inquisition torture sessions, massacres of Huguenot civilians and collateral Catholic damage, the complex tale spreads tentacles throughout the Midi region of France. The exposition is somewhat heavy-handed as characters discuss political upheavals, military factions, and religious strife past and present—including the purge of the Cathar heresy. However, the history is engrossing and goes down easy thanks to the hurtling plot.
Mosse has successfully cornered the Midi market.