Life in 12th-century England is often brutal and short, especially when you’re at the mercy of a devious, capricious monarch.
Sir Geoffrey Mappestone and fellow knight Roger of Durham are on their way to Geoffrey’s Welch border estate when King Henry orders Geoffrey to deliver several letters. While they’re kicking their heels waiting for the scribes to finish drafting the letters, Eudo, the king’s clerk, is murdered. Geoffrey is forced to include among his party a volatile group of fellow travelers including Delwyn, a scheming monk; two arrogant knights, Sear and Alberic; and the amiable but weak Edward. They arrive at Geoffrey’s manor to find his wife Hilde and sister Joan entertaining a number of guests, including Richard fitz Baldwin, whose saintly brother William was murdered, possibly to discover the secret that had turned him into such a beloved ruler. The enlarged group travel together to Kermerdyn. Along the way they are constantly harassed by armed men and are lucky to escape with their lives. Once Geoffrey delivers his letters, he still has the task of trying to discover William’s secret for King Henry. More murders and machinations put Geoffrey in a very dangerous position.
Beaufort’s series (The Bloodstained Throne, 2010, etc.), based on real people and events, continues to supply a pleasing combination of historical detail and mystery.