Oxford, 1261, and the end of the world is nigh, if you listen to Friar Fordam’s rhetoric at least. But more importantly, Pope Alexander is dying and Bishop Otho, the Papal Legate, is visiting Oxford. During a riot, a young student foolishly looses an arrow – and Sinbaldo, both cook and brother to Otho lies dead. Finding the truth of the matter is paramount, as someone has already tried to kill Otho – and Sinbaldo is the spitting image of the bishop…
Enter Master William Falconer – but he’s not the only person trying to find the truth. Both the wife of a local noble and a shadowy Templar (yes, them again!) are also investigating – but the combined forces of the Church and the State seem determined to block their efforts. But why, and how far will they go to silence Falconer?
Ian Morson is the third author on my hit list for the year. I reviewed the first book, Falconer’s Crusade last year and really enjoyed it and his contribution to The Medieval Murderer’s first book, The Tainted Relic was one of the highlights. So I was looking forward to this one.
OK, first off – when is this book set? I didn’t spot a date in the text, but the blurb says 1261. So I guess that while Falconer was looking for Roger Bacon, he must have stumbled into his time machine as the previous book (to which this is NOT a prequel) was set in 1264. How strange…
I’ve come away feeling vaguely dissatisfied. I often do when books are about nebulous conspiracies as it’s hard to get a grip as the book progresses on what is going on. For a long time, Falconer mills around getting the wrong end of the stick – including a very odd bit involving hypnosis – until the truth starts to emerge.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a whodunit and a clued on at that. But part of the story is to try and figure out in which direction you should be looking. I’ve no problems with trying to make the reader look the wrong way, but it felt that I wasn’t being offered any direction to look in.
But it’s still a good read – it’s fallen into the trap of being good-but-not-as-good-as-the-last-one. The central characters are strong and the apparent addition of Ann Segrim to the cast should help things in the future as she is a very interesting character. Hopefully she’ll not be reduced to just love-interest status in the next books. And I will be searching out the next books as there’s enough going on here to Recommend it. But I would recommend reading the first book first, as it’s much stronger.