Sorrow Without End returns this series to Tyndale Priory and the characters of the priory and local village with whom we are now familiar.
I'm glad to see Ralf the Crowner again, and Brother Andrew, and Glytha, and even the rather odious Sister Ruth. Brother Matthew, who tries all he can to get Eleanor to purchase a "holy" relic, reminds me of Chaucer and the Pardoner. Well, not that Brother Matthew is a seller of pig knuckles purported to be the bones of saints or of splinters of the cross, but as a prospective buyer of the same with the intent of making a profit from relics.
So what to we find in this third book in the series? A murdered soldier who has returned from the Crusades, a dancing madman, Brother Thomas a suspect, a former Crusader with a grievous wound and a case of what we would call post-traumatic stress, a brutal attack on a nun, and a competition between two candidates to become the next Prior.
Parts of Sorrow are a little confusing as the author tries to keep an identity secret. I don't think the technique worked very well in this case. Maybe there were a few too many sub-plots as well.
But I'm hooked on the characters in this series. Priscilla Royal's ability to bring in interesting historic information in a manner that doesn't distract is another plus. I did check on the term Outremer, which I did know had to do with the Holy Lands the Crusaders hoped to "recapture," but this time, I looked up the origin which I'd never bothered to do before. The term Outremer is from the French outre-mer, overseas. Cool, now it makes sense. Among the many interesting historic details, Royal includes information about churches and monasteries that house holy relics (real or fake) and the need for protection against theft.
I'd definitely read this series in order, beginning with The Wine of Violence that introduces the characters and their basic backgrounds. I'm eager for the next in the series, but will wait until I've taken care of some of the books waiting to be read.
Read in March
Medieval Mystery. 2011. Print version: 241 pages.