A SERPENT'S TALE by Ariana Franklin
Read : July 20 -Aug 3
Pages : 567
After reading the Mistress of the Art of Death, I had high expectations of The Serpent's Tale, the sequel. Ariana Franklin lived up to those expectations and a bit more.
The story is set approximately 2 years after the end of Mistress, and there are numerous changes that effect this story. When the King’s paramour, Rosamund Clifford, dies supposedly by poison, Henry is suspicious of his estranged wife Eleanor of Aquitaine and sends his dependable Bishop of St. Albans, Rowley Picot to commandeer Adelia's services and determine exactly how his lover died. Only with clear evidence can civil war be averted and Adelia is the "man" for the job. Adelia's emotions are in the forefront when the Bishop arrives because Rowley's apparently moved on in his life after she had refused his marriage proposal while she has not been allowed to return to her home in Salerno.After being persuaded that the king's wishes must be obeyed, Adelia (along with Glytha, the baby, and Mansur) accompanies Rowley to the nunnery at Godstow. Upon their arrival they are greeted with a dead body on the bridge which starts the unusual events that surround this mystery.
Rowley takes Adelia to the location of Rosamund's body but first they must traverse through the walled labyrinth which guards the tower. However, it is soon determined that it is not a labyrinth but a Maze and that the contingency that is there to examine the body cannot gain the tower without a guide. Finally reaching the tower, Adelia is beginning the examination of the body and surrounding area when Queen Eleanor appears so that she may gloat over her rival's demise while unknown to everyone, the victim's maid has been waiting in a hidden chamber to reek revenge. Adelia manages to save the queen's life, who promptly envelopes Adelia into her entourage while capturing Rowley and preventing his communications with the king.
Rowley escapes but we are not sure if dead or alive, and Adelia is taken along with the Queen back to the nunnery where after being snowed in, she proceeds to unwind all the threads of the mystery.
The mixture of medical science of the day, observations, and political intrigue along with startling subplots and historical flavor make this as enjoyable a read as the first. I'm definitely glad that I've already got my copy of #3 from the library in hand.