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Wine of Violence by Priscilla Royal
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Pretty good historical mystery. This is the first of a series, and I've bought the second one to continue. The story is set in 1270 in a small priory in England. A young nun named Eleanor is newly appointed as prioress, and struggles to gain the respect and acceptance of the other nuns and monks that reside there. On her first day at the priory Eleanor has to cope with the discovery of an older monk found murdered in the garden, as well as a newly arrived monk named Brother Thomas for which she develops a disturbing and unwanted attraction.

The characters and setting were very well drawn. Eleanor is both kind and smart, although some of her actions and attitudes seemed a little too modern to me. I felt much sympathy for the young Brother Thomas, who was forced into the order as an alternative to death after being caught in a homosexual encounter with a boyhood friend. And the medical character of Anne was intriguing - I will look forward to learning more about her past. Unfortunately the murder mystery itself became to lose my interest around the middle of the book, but I persevered. I didn't love the resolution only because it removed a character that I thought had a lot of interesting potential. But overall I look forward to reading the next book in the series. Three and a half stars. ( )
  dorie.craig | Jun 22, 2017 |
I really loved the setting: a "progressive" priory in the 12th century CE.

I am not a medieval scholar, so I have no idea how authentic this setting is... but I very much enjoyed it, both as it showed common human actions and reactions, and as it depicted a very different world.

The characters were well-drawn, too- distinct, and each with their own priorities and motivations.

The plot was twisty, though somewhat predictable.

This is the second book I've read in the series, and it hearkens back to the beginning; my first novel here was set much more in the future. I was fascinated in reading more of the back-story behind it, and look forward to reading more in the series. ( )
  cissa | Sep 24, 2015 |
I hovered between 2.5 and 3 stars for this historical fiction mystery. I liked the setting and the characters were believable for the most part. I only skimmed the foreword but the author has clearly taken the time to research the Fontevraud order and the time period of the late 13th century England. But some parts of it still struck me as a bit off (Eleanor, the daughter of a Norman noble, being taught to read and write in English for example).

I also found the plot, while probable, slightly distasteful. (There was a lot about sodomy in the book & one of the main characters is a gay man. That is fine, probably accurate, and even an interesting perspective on the times. But the motive of the murders turned out to be the repeated rape of a boy in the village. Good motive but yuck! I will try another from the series before coming to a final judgement. ( )
  leslie.98 | Apr 27, 2015 |
A good story in an assured setting, with fair characterisation. I found the layout a bit topsy turvy - the contents and copyright pages were at the back, along with (oddly) a description of the book. I could have done without quite a bit of the lengthy historical explanation at the beginning (annoying in an ebook when it's harder to flip past it)and bibliography and page and a half of acknowledgements at the end. Most of the American spellings were tolerable (after all, English spelling of the period was hardly set in stone) but the reference to a chipmunk really stood out in 13th century England! Still, I enjoyed it and will probably read the next one. ( )
  lexieconyngham | May 4, 2013 |
This book was my first introduction to the medieval mystery genre. I enjoyed the book immensely. The author spent a great deal of time on character development and motivation. The mystery element was present but I felt it was the backdrop for getting to know the sisters and brothers of Tyndal Priory. If you are looking for a book full of action then this is not the book for you. If you enjoy a book where you can spend time getting to know the characters then this is the perfect book for you. This is the first book in a series. I cannot wait to embark on the next journey with Sister Eleanor. ( )
  Earthwing | Dec 30, 2012 |
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Epigraph
Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many. Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence. -- Proverbs 4:10, 14,17 (King James Version)
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To my mother, Betty J. Hallenbeck Royal (1905-1998), who taught me the joy of reading and the love of a good story.
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During the dark morning hours of a winter day in the year 1270, an aged prioress realized she was dying.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743498488, Mass Market Paperback)

It is late summer in the year 1270 and England is as weary as its aging king, Henry lll. Although the Simon de Montfort rebellion is over, the smell of death still hangs like smoke over the land. Even in the small priory of Tyndal on the remote East Anglian coast, the monks and nuns of the Order of Fontevraud long for a return to tranquil routine. Their hopes are dashed, however, when the young and inexperienced Eleanor of Wynethorpe is appointed their new prioress over someone of their own choosing. Nor are Eleanor's own prayers for a peaceful transition answered. Only a day after her arrival, a brutally murdered monk is found in the cloister gardens, and Brother Thomas, a young priest with a troubled past, arrives to bring her a more personal grief. Now she must not only struggle to gain the respect of her terrified and resentful flock, but also cope with violence, lust and greed in a placed dedicated to love and peace. "WITH ITS INTRUIGING PLOT, CHILLING CONCLUSION AND CHARACTERS WHO EXHIBIT UNIVERSAL AND TIMELESS FEELINGS, THIS FRESH FIRST HAS ALL THE POTENTIAL TO EVOLVE IN A SERIES AS ENDURING AS ELLIS PETERS BROTHER CADFAEL BOOKS." - PUBLISHERS WEEKLY - STARRED REVIEW

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:36 -0400)

It is late summer in the year 1270 and England is as weary as its aging king, Henry III. Although the Simon de Montfort rebellion is over, the smell of death still hangs like smoke over the land. Even in the small priory of Tyndal on the remote East Anglian coast, the monks and nuns of the Order of Fontevraud long for a return to tranquil routine. Their hopes are dashed, however, when the young and inexperienced Eleanor of Wynethorpe is appointed their new prioress over someone of their own choosing. Nor are Eleanor's own prayers for a peaceful transition answered. Only a day after her arrival, a brutally murdered monk is found in the cloister gardens, and Brother Thomas, a young priest with a troubled past, arrives to bring her a more personal grief. Now she must not only struggle to gain the respect of her terrified and resentful flock but also cope with violence, lust and greed in a place dedicated to love and peace.… (more)

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