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The Serpent's Tale (US) / The Death Maze…
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The Serpent's Tale (US) / The Death Maze (UK) (2008)

by Ariana Franklin

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Mistress of the Art of Death (2)

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1,183None6,766 (3.89)182
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» See also 182 mentions

English (67)  Italian (1)  German (1)  All languages (69)
Showing 1-5 of 67 (next | show all)
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 |
Arianna Franklin has created a great historical mystery series with The Serpent's Tale and The Mistress of the Art of Death. In this book, Henry II's favorite mistress has been murdered and the queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, is the prime suspect. Unless Adelia can solve the mystery, England will be thrown into a civil war. The combination of strong plot, great narration, and historical setting made this book a pleasure to listen to. There was enough historical basis in the book to make me check out facts on wikipedia. One thing is for sure - women's rights have come a long way since the 12th century! ( )
  jmoncton | Jun 3, 2013 |
This is a 12th century mystery with a compelling heroine. Adelia Aguilar, who was trained as a pathologist, has to disguise her knowledge for fear of being called a witch. This novel is interesting and well-written, and it does a good job of dramatizing the various roles of medieval Englishwomen. King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine are among the characters. ( )
  astrologerjenny | Apr 25, 2013 |
This is a 12th century mystery with a compelling heroine. Adelia Aguilar, who was trained as a pathologist, has to disguise her knowledge for fear of being called a witch. This novel is interesting and well-written, and it does a good job of dramatizing the various roles of medieval Englishwomen. King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine are among the characters. ( )
  astrologerjenny | Apr 24, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 67 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ariana Franklinprimary 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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Epigraph
Dedication
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.
Quotations
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
"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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aka The Death Maze
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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?
(passion4reading)
Doctor to the dead
Adelia must prevent
All-out civil war.
(passion4reading)

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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