Monday, May 7, 2012

Bone of Contention

This third installment in the Magdalene la Batarde series, set in England during the twelfth century, sees Magdalene traveling to Oxford.  Her patron, William of Ypres, has requested her presence there, as King Stephen has called a council, and political machinations are underway.  William knows that while Magdalene may appear to the rest of the world as nothing more than a whoremistress, but he she is intelligent and loyal. He can hold political meetings in her chambers, and no one will suspect they are anything more than simple dealings with a prostitute.  Magdalene is a savvy woman, and she is eager to help William, to whom she is extremely grateful for her current situation.  She is also a good judge of character, and she knows that discussing the meetings with William gives him insight that can be very helpful indeed.

She does not imagine that her sojourn in Oxford will include another murder, but it does indeed, and the ramifications of the crime may well lead to a devastating political scandal.  She teams up with her friend and lover, Sir Bellamy of Itchen, and together they attempt to untangle a web that is as confusing as it is dangerous.

I continue to enjoy this historical mystery series, with its fascinating historical details, the intricate plots, and characters, particularly the woman, who are strong but still ring true to their time period.  Magdalene in particular is a compelling character, as she is already outside respectable society, because of her profession, yet she is educated, intelligent, and compassionate.  She has constraints on her, but she also has a freedom that few women of her (original) class enjoy.  I am sorry that there are only four books in this series, though.  I'll be sad when I've finished the last one.

Books in the Magdalene la Batarde series:
3. A Bone of Contention
4. Chains of Folly

Bone of Contention (#3 in the Magdalene la Batarde series) by Roberta Gellis; narrated by Nadia May (Blackstone Audio, 2004)

Also reviewed at:
Black Sheep Books:  "Some of Gellis’ other women characters also refuse to let themselves be defeated before they even begin so even though it’s not any great Oeuvre, it’s refreshing after characters such as Dorcas Slythe (A Crowning Mercy by Bernard Cornwell) who are pretty much wet dishcloths in terms of spirit."
Crested Butte Lodging:  "Although this is a work of fiction, the historical events are very true and make for a fascinating reading experience."
That's All She Read: "This is a simply entertaining story. By that, I mean, read it, enjoy it, but don't look for excellence in it."

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