The Bastard's Tale (Sister Frevisse Medieval Mystery Series #12)

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Overview

In Margaret Frazer's eagerly-awaited latest medieval mystery, the devout yet human nun Dame Frevisse, with her "common sense and humor" (Sharon Kay Penman), finds herself in the lavish world of England's royal court and high politics. There she learns that even the thickest of walls cannot keep out a threat against the royal family...

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Overview

In Margaret Frazer's eagerly-awaited latest medieval mystery, the devout yet human nun Dame Frevisse, with her "common sense and humor" (Sharon Kay Penman), finds herself in the lavish world of England's royal court and high politics. There she learns that even the thickest of walls cannot keep out a threat against the royal family...

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Editorial Reviews

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The Barnes & Noble Review
Margaret Frazer's medieval mysteries are rich in period detail, from history to politics to day-to-day life. Even in the 25th year of King Henry VI's reign, England is a dangerous place for those with political aspirations. Though Benedictine nun Dame Frevisse has no personal political agenda, that doesn't prevent others from attempting to make use of her skills and perceptions…but the wily Dame is difficult to control. In this case, her superiors -- in both religious life and family -- have tasks for her amid the lavish and dangerous world of England's royal court. When Parliament is summoned to the pilgrimage town of Bury St. Edmunds, Dame Frevisse is ordered to attend her dear cousin Alice, wife of the power-hungry Marquis of Suffolk and spy for the Bishop of Winchester. She jeopardizes both those roles by going to the aid of Arteys FitzGloucester, beloved bastard son of the king's out-of-favor uncle Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester. Frazer's richly drawn descriptions balance the intricate political history of a time rife with rumors, intrigues, plots, and power plays, in which victory and defeat are more often the result of treason and tragedy than truth. If you like historical mysteries with the emphasis on the history, you won't want to miss The Bastard's Tale. Sue Stone
Publishers Weekly
While the slow unfolding of the plot and the shortage of crime solving may put off some readers, anyone who values high historical drama will feel amply rewarded by Edgar-nominee Frazer's latest Dame Frevisse mystery (The Clerk's Tale, etc.). In 1447 the powerful men of England gather in the town of Bury St. Edmond's for a session of Parliament. However, a few nobles have decided that this particular session will not see business as usual. The bishop of Winchester summons Dame Frevisse from her nunnery to go to Bury St. Edmonds and report to him all that she sees and hears. With the aid of an old friend, the player Joliffe, and new friends Bishop Pecock of St. Asaph's and Arteys, the duke of Gloucester's illegitimate son, she uncovers a political plot of treason and murder. Arteys stands out as one of several historical figures in the story who become fully human. Despite his tenuous position as a bastard, he genuinely loves and admires his father. Also of note is the poignant and amusing relationship between Joliffe and Dame Frevisse. History fans will relish every minute they spend with the characters in this powerfully created medieval world. Prose that at times verges on the poetic is another plus, as is the inviting jacket art depicting a river flowing through a town of thatched-roof houses. (Jan. 7) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Ever since Henry VI was an infant, his relatives and successors-apparent have been jockeying for power in the realm, and now that it's 1447, the 25th anniversary of his reign, nothing has changed. Henry's uncle, Humphrey Duke of Gloucester, who'd retired to Wales for health reasons after his wife was imprisoned five years ago, has been summoned to a session of Parliament in Bury St. Edmonds, where he has reason to believe at least one of his longtime rivals, Bishop Henry Beaufort of Winchester and the Marquise of Suffolk, will be waiting for him with hired knives drawn. As the session looms, Frazer focuses on two outsiders even further from royal power than the Duke: Arteys FitzGloucester, his beloved bastard son, who's accompanied his father despite his misgivings about the journey, and the indispensable Dame Frevisse, the Benedictine nun of St. Frideswide (The Clerk's Tale, 2002, etc.), attending her cousin Alice, Suffolk's wife. Fears of perfidy prove well founded when Suffolk, who's spread the rumor that Gloucester is advancing on the town with an army, has him arrested for treason, and things go from bad to worse when Arteys, secretly visiting the ailing prisoner, catches someone trying to murder him, kills the killer in turn, and then can't imagine how he'll escape Suffolk's revenge-unless Frevisse turns up with a well-timed stratagem for setting him free. No pretense of mystery, and not much suspense either, though Frazer executes her exercise-inserting Frevisse into a dramatic episode in 15th-century history-with audacity and ingenuity.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425186497
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 1/28/2003
  • Series: Sister Frevisse Medieval Mystery Series , #12
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.68 (w) x 8.54 (h) x 1.13 (d)

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    great medieval mystery

    In 1447 England, King Henry VI sits upon the throne but is unduly influenced by his closest councilor the Marquis of Suffolk. The Marquis has seen to it that the king¿s heir, his uncle the Duke of Gloucester, is looked upon with distrust and suspicion. At Bury St. Edmonds, the king, his lords and the parliament attend a council meeting. An invitation is sent to Gloucester hinting that if he attends his wife will be released from prison. Suffolk¿s wife Alice is a cousin and close friend to Dame Frevisse who is very happy to live in St. Frideswide¿s Nunnery away from the worldly cares of corrupt men. When Frevisse is asked to go to Bury St. Edmonds to spy for Bishop Beaufort of Winchester she accepts because she wants the priory to have the property the Bishop is willing to give in return for her services. When she arrives at the site of the gathering, she becomes so involved in political affairs of the realm that she lies and perjures herself to save the live of Gloucester¿s illegitimate son and four of his trusted companions. The heroine of THE BASTARD¿S TALE makes a life long enemy of her cousin¿s husband the Marquis of Suffolk and risks an estrangement with her cousin Alice in order to prevent the death of innocents. It is obvious that Margaret Frazer has done meticulous research on the events that take place in this book so that the readers have a feel the era and an understanding of how such injustices can occur. Fans of medieval mysteries will relish the latest entry in this Edgar nominated series. Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted June 17, 2010

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