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A Killing Season by Priscilla Royal
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A Killing Season (2011)

by Priscilla Royal

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A nobleman recently returned from the crusades calls upon his friend to bring spiritual and medical help. So, through chilly winter weather, a group consisting of his friend, the friend's sister who is a prioress, a monk and a healer from her priory and a doctor travel to a remote castle on the coast. Just as they arrive they see a young man jump out of a castle window and find out that he is the second of the nobleman's sons to die mysteriously. The nobleman and his wife had 5 sons but the eldest had died of illness while his father was on the crusade so now there are only 2 sons left. The nobleman is suffering from some mysterious illness and has refused to have anything to do with his wife or his children.

Although I generally like historical mysteries I thought this one was a poor example of the sub-genre. I guessed both whodunit and the mysterious illness plaguing the nobleman. The author tried to spice things up by inserting lustful thoughts for all the characters but no-one ever followed up on the thoughts. Generally speaking I wouldn't recommend this book. ( )
  gypsysmom | Apr 15, 2012 |
I’ve always enjoyed medieval mysteries. When well written, they pull me into a world distant and exotic enough to be utterly entertaining. Escape and history all in one read. Perfect. A friend recommended I read Priscilla Royal, and now I think I owe her a good lunch in return. Royal is definitely a skilled writer of medieval mystery.

Her duo of “sleuths,” Prioress Eleanor and Brother Thomas, have come to their vows from utterly different motivations and backgrounds, but nonetheless have a fascinatingly close working relationship, even while secrets and awkward moments abound. Royal resists putting modern sensibilities into her characters. They often make decisions violently at odds with the contemporary view of things. Good for Royal to have the integrity to build such true-to-history people. It makes for much more engaging reading.

The setting of A Killing Season is a fearsome castle in the middle of winter—a castle that “looms like Satan’s shadow” on a wild coast connected to the mainland only by a narrow walkway over jagged rocks and crashing sea. Sir Herbert, its master, has recently returned from a crusade and has summoned his fellow crusader, Sir Hugh, Eleanor’s brother, to bring him both medical and religious assistance. Even as Hugh, Eleanor, Thomas, and the others with them approach the frozen castle, they witness a sign of the profound troubles haunting everyone inside: a young man launches out of one of the windows to his death below. That’s only one of the mysterious deaths that sprout like weeds in this killing season. Is some evil plot of men behind them or has the devil come to exact his due? And for what great sins?

The knights have lost the shine on their armor. Indeed Royal shows the psychological costs that the wars have exacted on these “holy” soldiers. We might label it post traumatic stress today, but no such consideration is granted these men. And then there are other problems of prejudice and rigid viewpoints—Royal avoids either romanticizing this world or modernizing it. As you try to guess who or what is behind the killings, you must step into the characters’ viewpoints, into a strange old world. Or is it so far from ours after all? ( )
  Judith_Starkston | Mar 16, 2012 |
I love it when I pick up a book that is, say, 8th in a series, and fall madly in love with it. Why? Because that means I have 7 more to enjoy before the 9th comes out!

Priscilla Royal might just be one of my new favorite authors. The Killing Season set the mood so incredibly perfectly and boasted such a thrilling cast of characters that I fell madly and deeply in love with them before I was even 2 chapters in.

And the story wasn’t shabby either!

Gothic mysteries, to me, involve big, creepy castles, lots of rain and mist, thrilling, ghostlike mysteries and generally make me want to curl up on my sofa with a hot cup of tea, under my blanket, and shiver while I read the book. That happened during the reading of The Killing Season.

The story opens with a cold journey to a castle and a cast of characters already comfortable with one another from previous stories – but that did not take from the book, especially as I had not read the previous books in the series. I was introduced gently to them and never once felt lost of bewildered. The setting was a medieval one and immediately my imagination filled with the clothing, the craggy surroundings and the looming castle ahead through the mists. And then – tragedy strikes.

I just shivered writing that.

This was a historical mystery unlike anything I’ve read before. If I had the money right now I’d be purchasing every book in the series, this one was that good. Read it, immerse yourself in Priscilla Royal’s writing. I promise you will not be disappointed. ( )
  TheLostEntwife | Oct 6, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Priscilla Royalprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cheung, Patrick Hoi YanCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McCaddon, WandaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
To every thing there there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal...

-- Ecclesiastes 3:1-3 (King James Version)
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To Marianne Silva and Sharon Silva
for all your support and the pleasure of your friendship.
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The travelers and their armed escort halted near the cliff's edge.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Prioress Eleanor and Brother Thomas travel with a group of healers to a castle that may be cursed, and look into the mysteries of the owner Baron Herbert's withdrawal since returning from the Crusades and the deaths of three of his sons.

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