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The apothecary rose : a medieval mystery by…
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The apothecary rose : a medieval mystery (original 1993; edition 1994)

by Candace Robb

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4741421,807 (3.61)17
Member:wyvernfriend
Title:The apothecary rose : a medieval mystery
Authors:Candace Robb
Info:London : Heinemann, 1994.
Collections:Library Loans, Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:fiction, library, pa, read, historical, april, 2009, romance, mystery, medieval, vb, gr

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The Apothecary Rose by Candace Robb (1993)

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  1. 20
    A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters (avalon_today)
    avalon_today: there is a lot going on in those Abbey's
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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
Candace Robb is very nice person and very serious about her research though somehow I do not become deeply immersed in her mysteries. ( )
  antiquary | Jul 4, 2013 |
THE APOTHECARY ROSE is the first instalment in Candace Robb's series featuring the exploits of Owen Archer spy-sleuth. It is somewhat comparable to Ellis Peters Cadfael series, as both heroes are Welsh, and ex-warriors with knowledge of herbal healing. Both series take place in the Middle Ages, though Cadfael lived in the mid 1100s and Archer in the mid 1300s.
Robb's obsession with medieval England shows through with great clarity. Everything is described with such detail that it's entirely possible to lose oneself in the story. The story is enticing, as well as the characters. A multitude of characters captivate the imagination. Each has believable traits, as well as flaws: Owen's self-doubts, Lucie's stubbornness, Anselm's obsession.
There is a mystery - but not centred on who-done-it, because that's pretty easy to figure out. The mystery revolves around the "why", which can be just as enjoyable as guessing the "who".
Owen Archer is an enthralling sleuth. The combination of medieval York and murder mystery was wonderfully done. I enjoyed it immensely. ( )
  Jawin | Jul 5, 2011 |
The start of a wonderful medieval mystery series -- set in one of my favorite cities: York, England. Read the book, then visit the city; you'll find much still there from the era. Better yet, visit the city, bring the book with you, then sit and read a while on the centuries-old city wall in the shadow of the Abbey. It makes the city come alive.
  lendroth | Oct 13, 2009 |
In this first novel of the Owen Archer series, the one-eyed spy and recently retired Captain of the Archers finds himself on a mission to York, investigating the mysterious death of the Archbishop’s ward. He goes undercover as an apprentice apothecary under Lucie Wilton, herself apprenticed to her husband. Nicholas Wilton has been ill in bed since an earlier death. It was he who prepared the medicine that proved fatal for the two men. Owen must try to both ascertain Lucie’s involvement, if any, and fight his own feelings for the soon-to-be widow. She, too, is suspicious of her full-grown apprentice and his motives even as she, too, feels the chemistry. There’s little suspense to the mystery—no shocking twists, and the reader knows most of what has happened quite early on. The tension comes more from the suspicion and suspense in the personal relationships and makes for a satisfying read. Historical details create a sense of time and place and the townspeople are an interesting crop of secondary characters; I imagine many of them will be turning up in the other books in the series. ( )
1 vote jholcomb | Jun 11, 2009 |
When Owen Archer loses the sight in one of his eyes, his military career under the duke of Lancaster is over. Or so it would seem, until the duke employs him in other ways. Once the old duke dies, Archer is unsure of his future. He’s recruited by the Archbishop of York and Lord Chancellor, Thoresby, to investigate a pair of murders in St. Mary’s Abbey, just outside York’s city walls. One of the victims is Thoresby’s ward and Thoresby isn’t content with the cause of death. He sends Owen to figure out what’s really happened by apprenticing him to the apothecary and giving him an entrance into the world of medieval York.

This may have been the only time in my entire life that I have not needed the map on the first few pages of this book. I’m absurdly familiar with medieval York and given that my classes are held on top of the former grounds of St. Mary’s Abbey, this book had a special thrill for me. I loved the medieval atmosphere. These characters walk through places I go every day and it’s exciting to imagine it as they would have seen it.

I liked those characters, too. I can see a bit of Owen Archer’s legendary appeal, about which I have heard much. (I read this on the recommendation of Nan Hawthorne, by the way!) I enjoyed the ambiguity about many of them, particularly Lucie, and how the truth was eventually revealed. Even the supporting characters like Bess didn’t fall flat. The Archdeacon made me feel very uncomfortable, but I think that was the point.

As far as writing goes, I felt it was a bit plain. I could certainly imagine medieval York, but it’s hard for me personally to say whether I had such an easy time because I’ve tried before and am very familiar with the city or because the author did a brilliant job imagining it. It’s hard to say, but I do think the prose was the weakest point. The story was good enough for it to vanish, as should happen, but I found it hard to immerse myself at the beginning before the plot got rolling.

I would recommend this to other people who like their historical fiction set firmly in the middle ages and probably to those who like medieval mystery as well. As for me, I’m looking forward to the next in the series.

http://chikune.com/blog/?p=614 ( )
2 vote littlebookworm | Apr 16, 2009 |
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To Gen, who first got me to England;

to Jacqui, the apothecary; and

to Charlie, who always makes it so.
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Brother Wulfstan checked the color of his patient's eyes, tasted his sweat.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312953607, Mass Market Paperback)

Once the king's captain of archers, now he must penetrate a poisoner's secrets...

Christmastide, 1363-and, at an abbey in York, two pilgrims die mysteriously dead of an herbal remedy. Suspicious, the Archbishop sends for Owen Archer, a Welshman with the charm of the devil, who's lost one eye to the wars in France and must make a new career as an honest spy.

Masquerading as an apprentice to Apothecary Nicholas Wilton, whose shop dispensed the fatal potion, Owen's dark curls, leather eyepatch and gold earring intrigue Wilton's wife. But is this lovely woman a murderess? and what links the Wiltons to bumbling Brother Wulfstan, ascetic Archdeacon Anselm and his weaselly agent Potter Digby, and the ragged midwife Magda the Riverwoman? Answers as slippery as the frozen cobblestones draw Owen into a dangerous drama of old scandals and tragedies, obsession and unholy love...

The Apothecary Rose marks the arrival of a bold and quick-witted detective in this expertly detailed, engrossing tale of medieval life-and death.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:44:54 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

In 1363 York, people are dying from herbal remedies given out by Master Apothecary Wilton. Sent in disguise to solve the mystery, Owen Archer slowly uncovers the truth.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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