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The Death Maze by Diana Norman

The Death Maze (2008)

by Diana Norman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Mistress of the Art of Death (2)

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English (70)  Italian (1)  German (1)  All languages (72)
Showing 1-5 of 70 (next | show all)
The Serpent’s Tale by Ariana Franklin is the second entry in the excellent Mistress of the Art of Death Series. Set in the 12th Century during the rule of Henry II, this historical mystery has the main character Adelia Aguilar being sent off with the Bishop of St. Albans to investigate the death of Henry’s mistress, Rosamund Clifford. First and foremost, Adelia must answer as to whether Queen Eleanor was involved.

To complicate matters further, the Bishop of St. Albans is Rowley Picot, the father of Adelia’s baby and the love of her life. This story is full of action and adventure although taking place in the dead of winter. Even as she is being held captive by the Queen’s unscrupulous subordinates, Adelia is investigating the murder not realizing that a very efficient assassin is following her every move.

I found The Serpent’s Tale delivered an excellent mystery while at the same time brought the 12th Century to vivid life. Although there was some repetition at the beginning of the book in order to remind the reader of Adelia’s medical training and how she ended up in England these were quickly dealt with. I will definitely be following more of Adelia’s adventures in the next medieval mystery of this series that is all the more valued due to the death of the author. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Apr 17, 2015 |
The Serpent's Tale is the follow up to Ariana Franklin's Mistress of the Art of Death, the story of Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar, a brilliant doctor living during the rule of King Henry II. Adelia, as she is most often called, cannot return to her homeland of Sicily because the king, who knows of her ability to identify the cause of death from the remains of a victim, finds her useful and is keeping her in England.

The Serpent's Tale is a good read, but doesn't live up to Franklin's wonderful first book. Adelia has a love interest, Rowley Picot, who, after Adelia turned down his proposal, accepted a royal appointment to become a bishop. Rowley is the father of Adelia's child. In Mistress of the Art of Death Adelia's relationship with Rowley grew during the course of the book. In this novel, Adelia's feelings for Rowley are mostly in her thoughts. There's one scene on a barge where they are tied up near each other that's interesting, but other than that the couple spends most of the book apart. Adelia's focus in this novel is more on her child than her lover.

The plot is about about the aftermath of a rivalry between Eleanor of Aquitaine, King Henry's queen, and Rosamund Clifford, the king's mistress. I didn't know the history before reading this book, so it was interesting to google Eleanor of Aquitaine to learn about this period. Eleanor supported her son's rebellion and, in Franklin's book, the people who could benefit from this conflict took advantage of Eleanor and Rosamund's hatred of each other.

What I find most interesting about Franklin's writing is the way she takes a modern perspective to her historical novel. The people of twelfth century England are not accepting of a woman doctor or a woman stepping out of her traditional role in any other way. So Adelia, who is educated, brilliant, and willing to raise her child alone, has to contend with the bigotry of the period. It's fun to see how, after she decides not to submit to a marriage requiring her to sacrifice her career, she deals with the reactions of the people.

Steve Lindahl – author of White Horse Regressions and Motherless Soul ( )
  SteveLindahl | May 1, 2014 |
The Serpent’s Tale is the second book in the Mistress of the Art of Death series set in Medieval England during the reign of King Henry II featuring Adelia Aguilar, a female physician from Italy.Rosamund Clifford, the mistress of the King, has died an agonizing death by poison-and the king's estranged queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, is the prime suspect. Henry suspects that Rosamund's murder is probably the first move in Eleanor's plot to overthrow him. If Eleanor is guilty, the result could be civil war. The king and his new Bishop Rowley Picot (and Adelia’s lover and father of her child Allie) must once again summon Adelia to uncover the truth. Adelia and Rowley travel to the Rosamund’s home, in a tower within a walled labyrinth. However they become trapped inside a nearby nunnery by the snow and cold. Soon dead bodies begin piling up and Adelia realizes that there may be more than one killer at work, and she must unveil their true identities before England is plunged into civil war. I again enjoyed this character of Adelia—a feminist in a time when women only have indirect power. I was a little disappointed that Rowley was only in a small portion of the book—the relationship and give and take between he and Adelia in the first book was something that I missed. 3 ½ out of 5 stars. ( )
  marsap | Apr 28, 2014 |
I dithered about the rating of this one. In some ways I did enjoy this even more than the first book in the series, Mistress of the Art of Death. I loved the portraits of Henry II of England, his queen Eleanor of Aquitaine and his mistress the "Fair" Rosamund. In all those cases they are takes unlike what I'd read of them and made me want to read more about the real history--and I even poked around a little online. That's what good historical fiction does--not only draw you into another world, but make you want to read more about the reality.

However, just a cursory look at what's online revealed more that a few inconsistencies. A lot of the material about Rosamund belongs more to legend than history. There's a reference in the first book (and this one) to Henry having done penance in the past for the murder of Thomas Beckett. That penance was done in 1174. This book is set at the start of the "Great Revolt" of 1173 to 1174 in the immediate aftermath of Rosamund's death (1176). The thing is, can I really mark down a book for taking liberties I wouldn't have even noticed if the book itself hadn't sparked my interest in the real events? Well, a bit, especially when I found the historical fiction aspects of the series of more interest than the romance, mystery or stylistic merits.

Yet I still like Adelia, the "mistress of of the art of death" at the center of the tale. I liked the characters Franklin surrounds her with. The mystery is in some respects stronger--I didn't guess the murderer quite as easily. It's a gripping and suspenseful tale I consumed as greedily (and mindlessly?) as a bowl of popcorn. So, a light fluffy snack? Despite some macabre aspects, this is certainly less harrowing than the first book that dealt with a serial killer of children, anti-Semitism and the blood libel. I was entertained and do want to read the two other books left in the series. So on the whole I'd say Franklin did a good job. ( )
  LisaMaria_C | Mar 12, 2014 |
Nicely researched historical fiction set in England during the rule of Henry II and Eleanor. The created characters are engaging and the circumstances surrounding the story make for a very nice little mystery. The settings are well depicted and the characters interesting and, if a bit of philosophy about women's right slips in, it's well and smoothly handled. ( )
  turtlesleap | Feb 9, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 70 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Diana Normanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Frąc, CezaryTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gębicka-Frąc, MariaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rijsewijk, Erica vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Timmermann, KlausTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wasel, UlrikeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Yoshizawa, YasukoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Awards and honors
To Dr. Mary Lynch, MD., FRCP, FRCPI,

consultant cardiologist.

My literally heartfelt thanks.
First words
The two men's voices carried down the tunnels with reverberations that made them indistinguishable but, even so, gave the impression of a business meeting.
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
"Dum vivimus, vivamus," he said. "Let us live while we live. I subscribe to the Epicureans." - "Do you know the mortality rate among Epicureans?"
Eleanor leaned forward, cupping her ear again, then stood back. "Demons? Belial?." She turned to her audience. "The woman threatens me with Belial. My dear, I married him."
Henry swived more women than most men had hot dinners. "Literally, a father to his people," Rowley had said of him once, with pride.
Life was sacred; nobody knew that better than a doctor who dealt with its absence.
That didn't get any applause either, but from somewhere deep into the congregation, someone farted. Loudly. The men-at-arms turned their heads this way and that, looking for a culprit. But, though a shiver swept though the crowd, every face remained stolid. How I love the English, Adelia thought.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
aka The Death Maze
Publisher's editors
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Book description
The Fair Rosamund, mistress of King Henry II, has died a suspicious death -- and the king thinks his estranged queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, may be behind it. If Eleanor really is guilty, the result could be all-out civil war in England. Henry must summon medical examiner Dr. Adelia Aguilar, "mistress of the art of death," out of retirement to uncover the truth.
Haiku summary
Lovely Rosamund
Lies poisoned; did jealous Queen
Eleanor do it?
Doctor to the dead
Adelia must prevent
All-out civil war.

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0399154647, Hardcover)

Adelia is back in action! Ariana Franklin combines the best of modern forensic thrillers with the detail and drama of medieval fiction in this enthralling historical novel, the second in the Mistress of the Art of Death series.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:17:56 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Ordered by Henry II to establish the possible role of Eleanor of Aquitaine in the poisoning death of Henry's mistress, a reluctant Adelia Aguilar joins forces with her infant daughter's father, the Bishop of St. Albans, during the investigation.

» see all 5 descriptions

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