The Water Devil (Margaret of Ashbury Trilogy Series #3)

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Overview

The final adventure in the beloved and bestselling Margaret of Ashbury trilogy, which began with A Vision of Light and In Pursuit of the Green Lion.

Margaret of Ashbury is ready to settle down; the medieval healer is looking forward to an uneventful life in the country. And, indeed, life with her true love and a brood of rambunctious children is nearly perfect—except for her husband Gregory’s ever-meddling family. Finding himself deep in debt once again, Gregory’s father has ...

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The Water Devil (Margaret of Ashbury Trilogy Series #3)

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Overview

The final adventure in the beloved and bestselling Margaret of Ashbury trilogy, which began with A Vision of Light and In Pursuit of the Green Lion.

Margaret of Ashbury is ready to settle down; the medieval healer is looking forward to an uneventful life in the country. And, indeed, life with her true love and a brood of rambunctious children is nearly perfect—except for her husband Gregory’s ever-meddling family. Finding himself deep in debt once again, Gregory’s father has plotted to sell Margaret’s daughter off in marriage to save his woodlands from a greedy abbot. In a panic, Margaret turns to her old friend Brother Malachi to help save her daughter by whatever means necessary. The tension within the feuding family rouses an ancient being that dwells in a spring at the center of the disputed woodland. The watery creature has its own plans, and its eye is on Margaret’s infant son.

Favorite characters return, the stakes are high, and the air is thick with intrigue and danger. Written with the historical accuracy, supernatural plot twists, and humor that Riley’s readers have grown to love, The Water Devil is a high-spirited adventure that brings Margaret’s odyssey to a satisfying conclusion.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Set in England in 1362, Riley's charming conclusion to her trilogy that began with A Vision of Lightfinds Margaret of Ashbury still having amusing conversations with God ("As Supreme Judge of All Things, I assure you that you are one of the half-dozen most talkative of My creations"). Margaret's scrofulous and quarrelsome father-in-law plans to use her marriageable and well-dowered daughter, Cecily, as a bargaining chip in a squabble about riparian rights and borders. But the creature who dwells in the spring in question, the eponymous Water Devil, has other plans. Fortunately, Margaret has a lovely collection of con artists and mountebanks to help her save the incorrigible Cecily from being wed to an aged lecher. But who will save her son from the Water Devil? This is a sometimes funny, sometimes dramatic, but always compassionate love story with a perfect ending. (Feb.)

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Gifted healer Margaret of Ashbury, now Lady Margaret de Vilers, returns to readers after too long a hiatus (see In Pursuit of the Green Lion, 1990) as mother of a rambunctious brood and wife to Sir Gilbert de Vilers (a.k.a. Brother Gregory), the Duke of Lancaster's official chronicler. Life would appear to be looking up for this former village girl; however, a legal dispute over Gilbert's father's prized oak grove and the mysterious pool within it embroils her in village affairs, nearly costing her her life and threatening her children despite her special powers. This work is a riotous Chaucerian mixture of the sacred and the pagan, the lordly and the lowly, the human and the heroic, delivered with a humorous twist sure to delight everyone. Hopefully, this colorful and enthralling picture of 14th-century England, painted by an author with a wonderfully unique voice, will bring Riley the widespread recognition she deserves. Highly recommended. [Originally published in Germany and now available for the first time in English, this is the final book in the "Margaret of Ashbury" trilogy; reading group guide included.-Ed.]-Cynthia Johnson, Cary Memorial Lib., Lexington, MA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Matronly mystic Margaret of Ashbury finally tames her formidable father-in-law in the final installment of Riley's 14th-century trilogy. Last time out (In Pursuit of the Green Lion, not reviewed), wealthy Margaret ransomed third husband Gilbert de Vilers from the French. Now that they've given Margaret's feisty daughters a stepbrother (toddler Peregrine), Gilbert's status with his neglectful father, Hubert de Vilers, has improved. This infuriates Petronilla, childless wife of dandified philanderer Hugo, Sir Hubert's heir apparent. (Somewhat to the novel's detriment, however, Petronilla proves a cartoonish villain posing no real threat whose punishment readers may find excessive.) After returning from Edward III's latest failed campaign to reclaim the French throne, Gilbert is enjoying the bustling domesticity of Margaret's London manor when his Pater barges in, angling to mortgage Margaret's holdings for legal fees. An oak grove bordering Brokesford, the de Vilers estate, is the subject of a boundary dispute between Sir Hubert and a neighboring monastery. The grove houses a pond inhabited, it is said, by an ancient pagan sprite to whom the villagers sacrifice small tokens for good luck. Margaret won't encumber her property and jeopardize her daughters' dowries, but she's willing to procure fake documents backing up Sir Hubert's claims. Obliged to live at Brokesford until the lawsuit is settled, our resourceful heroine quickly becomes embroiled in local scandals. A priest has been swallowed by the whirlpool at the pond's center, and a "succubus" lurks nearby to ensnare unwary men. When Margaret grapples with the water sprite to save her son, and Sir Hubert's chivalrous instincts arereawakened by her daughters' stately governess, can a happy ending be far behind?The author's wit and irreverent take on the period keeps sentimentality from swamping her tale. Agent: Jean Naggar/Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307237897
  • Publisher: Crown/Archetype
  • Publication date: 1/23/2007
  • Series: Margaret of Ashbury Trilogy Series, #3
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 304,774
  • Product dimensions: 5.26 (w) x 8.01 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

JUDITH MERKLE RILEY is a professor of political science and has a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. She is also the bestselling author of A Vision of Light and In Pursuit of the Green Lion, the first two novels in the Margaret of Ashbury trilogy.
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Table of Contents

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Reading Group Guide

A mysterious pond in the woods that terrifies and intrigues; a lady possessed by devils; an alchemist who conjures items from the past to help secure the future . . . Judith Merkle Riley’s The Water Devil contains many fascinating themes that are perfect for discussion. This guide is designed to help direct your reading group’s conversation about this last novel in Riley’s mystical Margaret of Ashbury trilogy.

1. “When you think of wars and high talk, Margaret, remember it’s all really a matter of money” (page 4). Talk about the role of wealth (and lack thereof) in the novel. How important is money in The Water Devil?

2. Margaret, Brother Malachi, and Mother Hilde all inhabit a spiritual world that is in juxtaposition with organized religion–what did you think of this, and how do you think the two ways of life are compatible?

3. Consider Margaret’s special gift of healing powers. After Lady Petronilla kidnaps young Peregrine and throws him into the pond, Margaret and the boy nearly drown as Margaret attempts to pull him from the water, and Peregrine hovers near death for days afterward. Why wasn’t Margaret able to employ her skills to help her son?

4. What did you think of Sir Hubert? Did your opinion of him change as you read The Water Devil? What did you think Madame Agathe found attractive about him?

5. Margaret speaks with God, who tells her, “Margaret, for every person who prays for love and peace, there are a half-dozen who pray for war and glory” (page 14). Why would God say such a thing?

6. Sir Roger, the town priest, muses to himself, “Rumors of diabolical pleasure, supernatural beings, succubuses hot with desire–matters were getting out of control. The pond thing would debauch the entire parish if something were not done, and soon” (page 62). Discuss the roles of Christianity, superstition, and pre-Christian paganism in The Water Devil. Why were the townspeople so fascinated by and fearful of the pond and the spirit that inhabited it? Who were some of the characters who weren’t afraid of the pond and its occupant? Why weren’t they scared?

7. Discuss Gilbert’s near-death experience (pages 25-28). How does this experience change him?

8. At the behest of Gilbert, with wary approval from Margaret, their daughters Alison and Cecily are taught the ways of becoming a “gentlelady” by Madame Agathe. What is Madame’s definition of a “lady?” Which character in the novel best fits it?

9. Discuss Lady Petronilla. Was she truly insane, or was there a method to her madness? If the latter, what do you think she was trying to gain by pretending to be possessed by devils?

10. In Chapter 7 (pages 60-64), Hugh the swineherd encounters the succubus and is seduced by her. Did you think there really was a succubus, or did you realize it was Lady Petronilla? Hugo speaks longingly of encountering a succubus, and attempts to do so: “They say there’s a succubus off at the pond. I’m off to hunt her up” (page 143). For such a dangerous creature, why did men in The Water Devil find a succubus so appealing?Discuss Lady Petronilla. Was she truly insane, or was there a method to her madness? If the latter, what do you think she was trying to gain by pretending to be possessed by devils?

11. What did you think of Brother Malachi and his practice of alchemy? Did you think the scheme he concocted to help Sir Hubert regain his land would work?

12. There are many memorable, even eccentric, characters in The Water Devil. Who do you think were some of the most interesting? Why?

13. The Water Devil offers many plot twists, especially near its conclusion. Which ones took you by surprise? Why? Were there any that you predicted? If so, what were some clues?

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Customer Reviews

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( 15 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 16 of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2012

    Exciting plotline, loveable characters.

    This author is especially good at creating strong female characters who overcome adversity to stand tall in a world dominated by men. Uplifting messages about the goodness of God shines through.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2007

    Light, entertaining, clever

    My introduction to Merkle Riley came about in a search to learn more about Catherine De Medici...there is not much well-written fiction or non-fiction about this curious figure. Though I'm not a reader of chick-books or romance novels, there's enough cleverness and twist of plot in Merkle-Riley's books that I've read every one. My least favorites 'though I still enjoyed them' have been Vision of Light and Pursuit of the Green Lion, so I was surprised to find I really liked Water Devil. The dialog between Gilbert and his father had me laughing aloud. Hugo is developed along the most entertaining lines. Even though it's suppose to be the last, I'm sure other readers would join me in wanting to know just how Cecily and Alison fare.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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