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A Murderous Procession

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Also see: Alternate Cover Editions for this ISBN [ACE] ACE #1 In 1176, King Henry II sends his daughter Joanna to Palermo to marry his cousin, the king of Sicily. Henry chooses Adelia Aguilar, his Mistress of the Art of Death, to travel with the princess and safeguard her health. But when people in the wedding procession are murdered, Adelia and Rowley must discover the Also see: Alternate Cover Editions for this ISBN [ACE] ACE #1 In 1176, King Henry II sends his daughter Joanna to Palermo to marry his cousin, the king of Sicily. Henry chooses Adelia Aguilar, his Mistress of the Art of Death, to travel with the princess and safeguard her health. But when people in the wedding procession are murdered, Adelia and Rowley must discover the killer's identity . . . and whether he is stalking the princess or Adelia herself.


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Also see: Alternate Cover Editions for this ISBN [ACE] ACE #1 In 1176, King Henry II sends his daughter Joanna to Palermo to marry his cousin, the king of Sicily. Henry chooses Adelia Aguilar, his Mistress of the Art of Death, to travel with the princess and safeguard her health. But when people in the wedding procession are murdered, Adelia and Rowley must discover the Also see: Alternate Cover Editions for this ISBN [ACE] ACE #1 In 1176, King Henry II sends his daughter Joanna to Palermo to marry his cousin, the king of Sicily. Henry chooses Adelia Aguilar, his Mistress of the Art of Death, to travel with the princess and safeguard her health. But when people in the wedding procession are murdered, Adelia and Rowley must discover the killer's identity . . . and whether he is stalking the princess or Adelia herself.

30 review for A Murderous Procession

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ingrid

    3.5 stars Disppointed by this last one in the series. The other ones were more vibrant and less predictable. This one went on a bit. Nevertheless I'm sorry this series has finished because Ariana Franklin (Diana Norman) died in 2011.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette

    Adelia is "on the road" returning back to Sicily this entire book. It's not for a pleasure trip, but to accompany Henry II's daughter Joanna to her marriage with the King of Sicily. Henry II has ordered her skills again and the trip separates her from her daughter Allie and several other main characters. But we get Ulf and the dog along, and on the way she picks up a new main household servant named Boggart. The first half of the book is slow and Rowley seems almost peripheral, although he is in Adelia is "on the road" returning back to Sicily this entire book. It's not for a pleasure trip, but to accompany Henry II's daughter Joanna to her marriage with the King of Sicily. Henry II has ordered her skills again and the trip separates her from her daughter Allie and several other main characters. But we get Ulf and the dog along, and on the way she picks up a new main household servant named Boggart. The first half of the book is slow and Rowley seems almost peripheral, although he is in the 120-160 plus entourage that will proceed for months in this slow advancement. And they are going the "long way" to avoid several Northern Italy city/kingdom wars. This is not a who-dun-it but much more an assassin tracking monologue. We know who "does it" and why he does. It's revenge for the death of Wolf two years prior when Adelia used Excalibur. And it's also the story of how that famous sword gets to Sicily. Crimes galore and misadventure mishaps skirting tragedy and even animal death happen all along the way. Shipboard tales are highly interesting. And I find all the minutia detail of the period lodging in priory or hostel sites with the task of feeding those people and all their mounts a top point. Many readers will not, IMHO. This book has a double identity character, lots of muddling about the loyalties and demographics. It's more travelogue than it is mystery. IMHO, it was a stepping stone to get Adelia's parents back to England with her, and that there was going to be further Adelia books in the series. But that did not happen. This book was publishes within a year prior to Ariana Franklin's passing. I did enjoy the read, enough to give it a 4 if the ending had not been as rushed as it was. This book was not paced well at all, because of that quick tie up to complete post-Scarry information within less than 2 pages? Franklin had to exit the book or someone else had to for her, IMHO. This one features Sicily and especially Palermo as exiting its "Golden Age" for accepting diversity and expanding science along factual evidence lines. And then it didn't. It gives rather simplistic reasons reciting in varied language over and over by nearly stating the same things. Concerning what Palermo was when Adelia and M last saw it, and what it was now in this return. That was a poor defense overall to the historic progressions there, IMHO. But of course this is all about Adelia retrieving her parents of tremendous and particular skills. And also surviving to return home to England to her Allie. Allie was set up to be an animal doctor in later copy by all the comments about her interests and affections in this book, but that was not fully developed yet. It's one of the reasons I do think Franklin had plans for more Adelia books. Lastly, I have to say this because as much as I liked reading all four Adelia books, I have to make an observance. Franklin ALWAYS sees the Catholic Church as the enemy in this period. Always. With the Cathars present in this book, doubly so. Religious personalities of Latin Christian forms are nearly always pure evil hypocrites, or advancement junkies, simple minded, or at the very least heavily flawed in habit or thought pattern. And often filthy or lazy. But only within the regard of Henry II being toned "down" by the ire of the after effects of his subjects to the murder of Thomas, his archbishop- does she begin to connote that the religious personnel was the "other" class that DIVIDED the power in this society. And without them- coming out of the Dark Ages and feudal systems- much of the recorded languages and stored human information about the REAL WORLD would have been lost. And the ruling class would have devastated feudal serfs even more than they did too, IMHO. It would have been a singular hammer of royal blood that "mattered". While church entities stored SOME private owned wealth and had large organization toward charity when governments had nearly none. The bias is considerably slanted. Yes, her Adelia tales are revisionist in several "eyes" sense too during conversations. Her mental comparisons with the ladies in waiting here and much else- just not of that period. But I still enjoyed them. Ariana Franklin had great personality reveal and how the mind jumps to self-thought skills. Her lyrical poetry or in this book, all the italics languages crossover prose- not so much. Regardless she made for some intriguing tales in these Adelia books.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Collins

    I liked this very much, even though the book ends with a wrenching cliffhanger and the author has died, so there will be no resolution. We are left with some of our characters achingly separated from the others, and with one character in the process of bleeding to death. I'm sure the author didn't intend to die before she could write another book, but I dislike such cliffhangers in general. Otherwise, this is an odd story, but enjoyable. Adelia accompanies the king's young daughter Joanna to her I liked this very much, even though the book ends with a wrenching cliffhanger and the author has died, so there will be no resolution. We are left with some of our characters achingly separated from the others, and with one character in the process of bleeding to death. I'm sure the author didn't intend to die before she could write another book, but I dislike such cliffhangers in general. Otherwise, this is an odd story, but enjoyable. Adelia accompanies the king's young daughter Joanna to her wedding in Sicily, encountering much peril along the way. I've only recently read Sharon Kay Penman's novel Lionheart, which features the newly widowed Joanna, so it was nice to read about her childhood voyage and to get glimpses of various Plantagenets. We meet Queen Eleanor again, but the visit is short so the author could only spare a few sentences for her customary denigration of that lady. Henry's appearance is as delightful as always. I've become very fond of the Adelia and company. The opening chapter was particularly lovely; Franklin could be quite funny. I'm sorry there will be no more of these books.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Linda (Miss Greedybooks)

    I liked the other 3 previous books better. Some of the characters did not go on this adventure, and they were missed... others were brought back and I would have rather have them not. The romantic stories were pretty much missed at every opportunity. I hope there will be a 5th book and the issues above will be different.

  5. 4 out of 5

    LJ

    First Sentence: Between the parishes of Shepfold and Martlake in Somerset existed an area of no-man’s-land and a lot of ill feeling. Dr. Adelia Aguilar is thrilled to learn Henry II wants to send her to accompany his daughter Joanna’s wedding procession to her home of Sicily. Her feelings change to anger when she learns Henry is keeping Adelia’s daughter in England to ensure Adelia’s return. With them, and well concealed, will be Arthur’s sword, Excaliaber, as a gift to the bridegroom. Danger a r First Sentence: Between the parishes of Shepfold and Martlake in Somerset existed an area of no-man’s-land and a lot of ill feeling. Dr. Adelia Aguilar is thrilled to learn Henry II wants to send her to accompany his daughter Joanna’s wedding procession to her home of Sicily. Her feelings change to anger when she learns Henry is keeping Adelia’s daughter in England to ensure Adelia’s return. With them, and well concealed, will be Arthur’s sword, Excaliaber, as a gift to the bridegroom. Danger a rises from an old foe out to steal the sword and looking for revenge against Ariana. There was a different feel to this book than those previous. Whereas before, Adelia seemed very much in control and strong, here she was in situations completely beyond her control and, at times, in great peril. While some readers might not care the change this wrought in the character, I liked that it showed her vulnerability and weaknesses, as well as the human failing that when the truth is too frightening to accept, it is denied. There is a progression in the lives of the characters with each book, which is important to me. Some readers have criticized the coup de foudre felt by the O’Donnell for Adelia. Having personally experienced it—although it didn’t last—I didn’t find it unrealistic. I did enjoy that we meet Adelia’s parents in this book. As always with Franklin’s book, I learn so much history. Henry’s daughter, Joan, was known to me, but not in any detail nor her role in history. Of late, I’ve read more books that deal with the Cathers, and I find them fascinating. I certainly knew nothing of the history of Sicily and found it significant that she shows it to us at a turning point in its history. Perhaps I’m obtuse, but I did not figure out the identity taken by the villain until it was revealed. What I did not like, was the ending. It seems more authors are doing cliff-hanger endings and it’s a trend I dearly hope will end almost immediately. Write a good book, I promise to read the next one without being tricked into so doing. I very much enjoyed the story and only the ending prevented my rating it as “excellent.” For readers new to the series, I recommend starting at the beginning. For me, I am ready for the next book. A MURDEROUS PROCESSION (The Assassin’s Prayer) (Hist. Mys-Adelia Aguilar-England/France/Italy-Middle Ages/1179) – VG+ Franklin, Ariana – 4th in series G.P. Putnam’s Sons, ©2010, US Hardcover – ISBN: 9780399156281

  6. 5 out of 5

    Krystal

    Definitely read this thinking it was the first in the series. WHOOPS. As such, I found it super confusing and completely unmemorable. It was so bland I can't even be bothered tracking down the first book of the series and re-attempting it. Oh well. Hopefully it was a bit more satisfactory to those who read the previous three books!

  7. 4 out of 5

    L.E. Fidler

    ok, i love this series, but overall, i felt very...conflicted...after this installment. i have NEVER loved rowley, he is not my first choice for adelia. he's sort of like "mr. big" to adelia's medieval carrie. only, in the case of the television show, i LIKED mr. big. i don't know. the premise here is that scarry (whose name i agonized over pronouncing. i have some bizarre totally connotation-created mental picture of him as a cross between one of richard scarry's plucky animal-people and simba' ok, i love this series, but overall, i felt very...conflicted...after this installment. i have NEVER loved rowley, he is not my first choice for adelia. he's sort of like "mr. big" to adelia's medieval carrie. only, in the case of the television show, i LIKED mr. big. i don't know. the premise here is that scarry (whose name i agonized over pronouncing. i have some bizarre totally connotation-created mental picture of him as a cross between one of richard scarry's plucky animal-people and simba's mean old uncle from "the lion king") has returned and is stepping up his antics to seek revenge against adelia for killing his lover wolf. in order to "keep her safe", rowley sends adelia to sicily with the king's 10 year old daughter who is going to become mrs. king of sicily. then, rowley makes adelia leave her daughter with queen eleanor for the year. here's where i started getting very angry. first off, it seems everyone thinks that adelia is ruining her child because allie is a precocious little demonseed who can beat up boys who try to beat her up first. i get the whole "medieval" women-hate-thang (franklin beats that over our heads enough), but it's not like everyone doesn't know who adelia is (emma, i'm lookin' at you, girlfriend. adelia got you your castle, so shush yourself). they love her because she is herself, not because she pretends to be a dainty lady. for everyone to suddenly be offended at the way she is raising her child seemed highly inappropriate in terms of characterization. i also couldn't tolerate rowley after he ordered it. i get that allie is his daughter, too, but, i'm sorry. as franklin tells us OVER and OVER again, rowley's duty is first to his king and to his role as bishop. in making that choice, he has no legal claim over allie (and, yes, that means even in the middle ages) - the fact that adelia doesn't fight harder makes her appear weaker (she obeys rowley far too much, forgives him far too quickly, and seeks comfort in his bed at least once). blech. then, there's the italicized scarry passages. i really don't like it when my narration gets into the mind of the killer. i don't. either the character isn't as scary (i almost typed scarry, sorry) as he/she should be or it's just gimmicky feeling. this is more the latter. i don't think it adds anything but a sense of creeptastic voyeurism to the whole charade. and it is a charade. the titular procession is an exercise is fanaticism. we meet henry's sons, get poisoned by bad well water, get drowned, get religion, almost get burned at the stake (and witness someone else getting burnt), and then get a raw deal while haggling for mannequins. i wish i were making that last bit up. i don't know - it wasn't my favorite. and the end?!? gah! don't get my hopes up. on a positive note, franklin does not give us the whole "thomas a becket" story 57 times, which is a HUGE plus. also, she sets up some nice potential plotlines involving adelia's "parents" in future endeavors. PLUS, there's ulf. FINALLY. oh, and for anyone keeping score, i'm totally team o'donnell.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

    This is the fourth book in the series, but I’m not sure whether it is the final one. I know the author has passed away, and her final book was completed by a family member, but I think it starts decades before the Adelia Aguilar series, so I’m not sure whether there is any connection or not. It was a good read - as they always are, easy to follow and full of details about life in the 12th century. It's a little bit sad if this is the last there is of Adelia Aguilar and Rowley...

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mary Lawrence

    I love Ariana Franklin's writing. That being said, the final book in the Mistress of the Art of Death series did not pull me in like her other work. Again we have Scarry, her former nemesis, stalking her. This time he follows her from England to Italy as she accompanies Princess Joanna Plantagenet on her journey to marry the King of Sicily. While Franklin's writing is always high caliber and engaging, this time the plot did not dazzle. Not that much happened and I struggled reading it because I k I love Ariana Franklin's writing. That being said, the final book in the Mistress of the Art of Death series did not pull me in like her other work. Again we have Scarry, her former nemesis, stalking her. This time he follows her from England to Italy as she accompanies Princess Joanna Plantagenet on her journey to marry the King of Sicily. While Franklin's writing is always high caliber and engaging, this time the plot did not dazzle. Not that much happened and I struggled reading it because I kept hoping the story would take off. It never did. The story was ok at 2 stars with one more thrown in, because I love Franklin's voice.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn F.

    Audiobook I am so freaking sad that this is the last book in the series which I'm 99% positive was because of the death of the author. I would have loved to see whether (view spoiler)[ Rowley left the church. Whether Adelia's parents come with them to England. What happens with O'Donnel? Do they get back to England safely? How long does it take them and how much has Adelia's daughter changed in the meantime? (hide spoiler)] There's just so much that was left of the story. I'm so sad that we don't Audiobook I am so freaking sad that this is the last book in the series which I'm 99% positive was because of the death of the author. I would have loved to see whether (view spoiler)[ Rowley left the church. Whether Adelia's parents come with them to England. What happens with O'Donnel? Do they get back to England safely? How long does it take them and how much has Adelia's daughter changed in the meantime? (hide spoiler)] There's just so much that was left of the story. I'm so sad that we don't get to see what happens next. As always, the narration was fantastic. 4 stars.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Richard Derus

    Rating: 3.75* of five The fourth "Mistress of the Art of Death" mystery in the ongoing series, this book was a grave (!) disappointment. To my *intense* irritation, Franklin chose to reveal the identity of the murderer for sure and certain on p19. I ask you...page nineteen...what in Satan's name (appropriate to the case, here, as Scarry-the-Satanist is the killer) possessed her to do that?! And what addlepated editor thought it was a good idea?! One whole star off for that. I was still reeling from Rating: 3.75* of five The fourth "Mistress of the Art of Death" mystery in the ongoing series, this book was a grave (!) disappointment. To my *intense* irritation, Franklin chose to reveal the identity of the murderer for sure and certain on p19. I ask you...page nineteen...what in Satan's name (appropriate to the case, here, as Scarry-the-Satanist is the killer) possessed her to do that?! And what addlepated editor thought it was a good idea?! One whole star off for that. I was still reeling from that blow when I got the next one: Road trip! Another outing for the Mistress of the Art of Death, traipsing off to do Henry's bidding, only this time it's to Sicily. Yes, that Sicily, the true home of Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar, and the home of her beloved parents! Only Henry, not being any sort of a fool, keeps Adelia's and Rowley's daughter in the care of Eleanor as a hostage for Adelia's safe return to England and his service. Now the last time there was a road trip, remember, was Adelia sloshing to and fro in frozen fenlands, to not much purpose. Now we have her on an international trip. My spirits sank into my sandals. Another half star off. So I trudge on through the book, depressed because I already know who killed all the dead folk that keep appearing, and irked every time I see italics because that's Scarry-the-killer being shoved at me, and only keeping on with the reading because I like the story...the factual wedding procession of Henry and Eleanor's daughter Joanna to William d'Hautville's Kingdom of Sicily. The adventures of Adelia, Ulf, Mansur, and some new characters who will feature prominently in future books, as they encounter Cathars, Catholics, and Countesses who help, hinder, and attempt to murder them, kept me turning pages. I wasn't happy about it, but I was doing it. "Every series has its duds," I explained to my dog as she demanded that I put the book down and pet her at 2a last night. "Just have to power through this one." The dog was unimpressed. She bit the dust jacket. Then we get to Sicily. The wedding of resolute little Joanna and feckless, pretty William was nicely rendered, and the descriptions of Palermo were a joy. Then came the last chapter, a chase scene like the one that climaxes the movie "Charade", which is an all-time favorite of mine. Events unspool, there is a shocking, shocking attempted murder, and the end of the book is just dazzlingly exciting. I put back a tenth of a star. But damn the woman! This could have been a four-and-a-half star read, if she'd just left the whole Scarry-talks-to-us thing in the bin where it belonged! *aaargh* read the damned thing if you're already in the series, but otherwise save yourself from the agonies of the immersion into the twelfth century, so complete and so fully absorbing...read Agatha Christie instead, she never even feints at fairness to her readers.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ellie

    A Murderous Procession is the fourth installment in the medieval mystery series, The Mistress on the Art of Death series, by Ariana Franklin (who sadly passed away in 2011). The series features Ariana Aguilar, a medically trained doctor from Salerno (at this time-the 12th century-women were allowed in Salerno to become doctors) and her assistant, the eunuch Mansur. Adelia is forced by King Henry II to accompany his 10 year old daughter, Joanna (the titular "procession") who is on her way to marr A Murderous Procession is the fourth installment in the medieval mystery series, The Mistress on the Art of Death series, by Ariana Franklin (who sadly passed away in 2011). The series features Ariana Aguilar, a medically trained doctor from Salerno (at this time-the 12th century-women were allowed in Salerno to become doctors) and her assistant, the eunuch Mansur. Adelia is forced by King Henry II to accompany his 10 year old daughter, Joanna (the titular "procession") who is on her way to marry King William. The king wants a medical practitioner present. Adelia is reluctant to leave her own young daughter (who stays with Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, a prisoner of her husband's) and her daughter's father, Rowley (who is also a Bishop in the Roman Catholic church). Adelia must go and so joins the procession (with Mansur who, to avoid scandal, pretends to be the doctor), not knowing that one of its members is planning to kill her. The mystery is suspenseful and I did not guess the ending. The plot was relatively exciting, although I did find stretches of text that dragged for me. I loved all the information about the 12th century in general and the Plantagenet's in particular. This is an excellent series, especially for anyone interested in the Middle Ages.

  13. 4 out of 5

    MB (What she read)

    Wow! That was an intense book! I had to stop and take a break mid-way because the suspense was getting to me. The book ends on somewhat of a cliff-hanger with lots of loose ends for the next book, or books. I'm not sure how I feel about the way the story was left. But it certainly builds my anticipation for the next Adelia story. I found myself thinking throughout how Adelia's troubles and interactions with the male-dominated Catholic church of that time were so pertinent to what I've been readin Wow! That was an intense book! I had to stop and take a break mid-way because the suspense was getting to me. The book ends on somewhat of a cliff-hanger with lots of loose ends for the next book, or books. I'm not sure how I feel about the way the story was left. But it certainly builds my anticipation for the next Adelia story. I found myself thinking throughout how Adelia's troubles and interactions with the male-dominated Catholic church of that time were so pertinent to what I've been reading in the news recently. You'd think Ariana Franklin was channeling current events when she wrote this book. I know that's not possible, but it was interesting to me to think about how things haven't really changed in some ways. ***** ADDED 2/1/11 Oh, so sad! Ariana Franklin just passed away. Now we'll never know what happens to Adelia. I will really miss this series. It was amazingly good! My sympathy to her family.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    Getting a bit 'samey' now. Predictable and nothing like as enjoyable as the first couple of books. The info on the Cathars was interesting but on the whole I think the series has run it's course. I won't be getting the next, if there is one.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Barb in Maryland

    This 4th book featuring Adelia Aguilar is a very mixed bag. Henry II insists that Adelia(and most of her household) accompany his young daughter Joanna on Joanna's bridal journey to Sicily. Henry wants someone who really knows medicine along to keep his daughter healthy. And to insure Adelia comes back to England, Henry arranges for Adelia's daughter to "stay" with Eleanor of Aquitaine while Adelia is away. So the bulk of the story involves the trek from England to Sicily. And it looks like someo This 4th book featuring Adelia Aguilar is a very mixed bag. Henry II insists that Adelia(and most of her household) accompany his young daughter Joanna on Joanna's bridal journey to Sicily. Henry wants someone who really knows medicine along to keep his daughter healthy. And to insure Adelia comes back to England, Henry arranges for Adelia's daughter to "stay" with Eleanor of Aquitaine while Adelia is away. So the bulk of the story involves the trek from England to Sicily. And it looks like someone is bent on causing all sorts of trouble for Adelia. I had several problems with this book, the main one being Adelia's reluctance to believe that someone is truly out to get her, in spite of all the evidence and the conviction of the closest members of her group. And when she finally(!!) comes to realize that the mysterious Scarry is trying to kill her, she pulls a really TSTL stunt! It's like she's lost major IQ points since the first two books. The historical details are fascinating, as always. And the writing is smooth. Not a bad way to spend several hours. Not the strongest entry in the series and it is not a stand alone--don't start with this book if you haven't read any of the others.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    I've read a whole bunch of books over the last few months and this series is the only one I remember enough to rate, so that says something. Nothing brilliant here, but intelligent fun in the medieval world. King Richard! I love her take on this king, how he's been pretty besmirched in history and yet he is responsible for bringing some of the earliest laws of justice for all. And a different take on Eleanor of Aquitaine, and all their pesky children. The characters are great. It has a modern ou I've read a whole bunch of books over the last few months and this series is the only one I remember enough to rate, so that says something. Nothing brilliant here, but intelligent fun in the medieval world. King Richard! I love her take on this king, how he's been pretty besmirched in history and yet he is responsible for bringing some of the earliest laws of justice for all. And a different take on Eleanor of Aquitaine, and all their pesky children. The characters are great. It has a modern outlook on those times, so if you're a sucker for complete accuracy in your historical fiction, you might be peeved, but for me? Great stories, characters, mysteries set in a medieval setting that doesn't stray too far off, you will enjoy this.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ravin Maurice

    The fourth installment of the Mistress of the Art of Death series did not disappoint. Ariana Franklin (may she rest in peace, the world lost a brilliant voice) has a way of turning the medieval world into a place that you feel like you know really well, like you've lived there your entire life. Her characters are well rounded, even the ones that have small parts (I'm speaking of Fabrisse in this particular book), and her plotting is brilliant, a true mystery that keeps you up at night so you can The fourth installment of the Mistress of the Art of Death series did not disappoint. Ariana Franklin (may she rest in peace, the world lost a brilliant voice) has a way of turning the medieval world into a place that you feel like you know really well, like you've lived there your entire life. Her characters are well rounded, even the ones that have small parts (I'm speaking of Fabrisse in this particular book), and her plotting is brilliant, a true mystery that keeps you up at night so you can get to the end. This particular installment saw our heroine, Adelia, traveling to Sicily in the train of Princess Johanna, daughter of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, who is going to be married to its King. But, someone is stalking Adelia, and people begin to die along the journey that leads the others in the train to believe that Adelia is a witch and is cursing people who piss her off, for lack of a better word. But, this book is so much more than that. We get a taste of the religious strife going on along the road to Sicily, the power that Henry II (or the Plantagenet as I like to call him) really has, and what's happened to his sons since the rebellion in the Serpent's Tale. I liked this book, I've liked all the books in the series, but I have to say I enjoyed this one more than the last. There was so much more going on, so many complex things that really made this book an enjoyable read. I will sorely miss these books, and the character, but will remember them fondly and recommend them to the world when someone asks me about what historical fiction I love.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Magill

    The 4th book and I was hoping to see some character development but it seems that the main characters are trapped by the plot demands including more personal danger for Adelia. However, Ulf was a pleasure and Boggart as well, but no Gyltha, although I am glad that someone is willing to teach her daughter some social skills. There was a lot of religion which got a bit slow and draggy in the middle, with lots of travelling side trips that didn't really move the main story along. Personally, I think The 4th book and I was hoping to see some character development but it seems that the main characters are trapped by the plot demands including more personal danger for Adelia. However, Ulf was a pleasure and Boggart as well, but no Gyltha, although I am glad that someone is willing to teach her daughter some social skills. There was a lot of religion which got a bit slow and draggy in the middle, with lots of travelling side trips that didn't really move the main story along. Personally, I think the English weather is softening Adelia's brain. She seems not to have grasped anything about how things work politically and religiously (the same thing in those days). I don't expect her to be adept at political intrigue, but some level of comprehension/understanding of the realities would be nice, such as after the 2nd death on the journey. And after everything else that has happened, her unwillingness to believe that there was a personal threat was incomprehensible (except for plot purposes)and that includes the marionettes. I feel like I have given the series a good try but am unlikely to go out of my way to stay on top of it. I like to be able to relate on some level to a character but my good will for Adelia has reached the end. Because the writing was decent, I don't think this is a 2 but my exasperation with Adelia makes this more of a 2.5 for me.

  19. 5 out of 5

    HBalikov

    This book took forever to get going. Maybe it was the baggage from the three previous novels. The author, Diana Norman writing as Ariana Franklin, has so much detail of 12th Century Europe which she delights in laying before us. Among the elements are: The trappings and rituals of royalty; The skills of the medicant, herbalist and surgeon; and, The time of heretics: Cathars, Jews, Saracens, and the role of priests. This novel takes a long time to get going, particularly for a reader of the previous b This book took forever to get going. Maybe it was the baggage from the three previous novels. The author, Diana Norman writing as Ariana Franklin, has so much detail of 12th Century Europe which she delights in laying before us. Among the elements are: The trappings and rituals of royalty; The skills of the medicant, herbalist and surgeon; and, The time of heretics: Cathars, Jews, Saracens, and the role of priests. This novel takes a long time to get going, particularly for a reader of the previous books, as the author has to re-establish all the relationships and then present the plot which revolves around Adelia, our physician in disguise, taking King Henry II's daughter to cement the alliance with the King of Sicily. Devoted readers know that this is close to going home for Adelia, who now has a daughter, so Henry "boards" the daughter with his queen Eleanor, as security for her carrying out his mission and returning to England. Because of the galumphing start, I cannot give this book four stars, but I found sticking with the story rewarding. Particularly, as Adelia and her troop explore the dangers of Europe at this point in time. Even if some readers will have figured out who is the assassin on Adelia's trail, the way the journey picks up momentum and the last section of the book certainly work well.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Alondra

    4 Stars Its the end of an era. The last in this series, that was actually written by the author. This story seems more fleshed out to me, and even more danger for Adelia as times are changing in Europe. With the christian church converting folk; whether folks want to be converted or not. Being anything other than white, anglo male is frowned upon. It is the beginning of punishment of those, for what the church views heretics, witches, saracens, etc. Adelia, Mansur and company tread on thin ice th 4 Stars Its the end of an era. The last in this series, that was actually written by the author. This story seems more fleshed out to me, and even more danger for Adelia as times are changing in Europe. With the christian church converting folk; whether folks want to be converted or not. Being anything other than white, anglo male is frowned upon. It is the beginning of punishment of those, for what the church views heretics, witches, saracens, etc. Adelia, Mansur and company tread on thin ice throughout the entire book. Henry must answer for a lot of suffering taken on by our group; but alas, we barely "see" Henry. The religious laws being forced upon all lands; there is an insurgence of quiet rebellion. It brings more excitement to the page, but like I said, it hits close to home. All the suffering so Henry's 10-year old daughter can be escorted to her new husband as promised. Yes, I said 10 years old. She is promised to King William of Italy. Salerno, to be exact. That seems wonderful, right? ... Of course, not wonderful without Adelia's daughter or contact with Rowley. I really enjoyed this reading and am sad to see the series end. I may try the new book; but I hear that the storyline is prior to Adelia's time. So, what is the point??? I miss her already. Bye Adelia.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Bolton

    Fourth, and so sadly, the last in the Adelia Aguilar series, but every bit as engrossing and engaging as the previous three. Mediaeval pathologist (you have to read the books, trust me, it works) Adelia is sent by Henry 11, one of my favourite characters in literature, on a trip to Sicily to a) safeguard his daughter's health and b) hand over Excalibur to his friend and future son-in-law, the King of Sicily. Tricky enough in those days, but to make matters worse an assassin, with an old score to Fourth, and so sadly, the last in the Adelia Aguilar series, but every bit as engrossing and engaging as the previous three. Mediaeval pathologist (you have to read the books, trust me, it works) Adelia is sent by Henry 11, one of my favourite characters in literature, on a trip to Sicily to a) safeguard his daughter's health and b) hand over Excalibur to his friend and future son-in-law, the King of Sicily. Tricky enough in those days, but to make matters worse an assassin, with an old score to settle with Adelia,is going along for the trip. I'm really not a fan of historical fiction (can't stand all the 'prithee sirs' and 'gadzooks') but Franklin has a way of making the distant past seem as real as what happened an hour ago. Adelia, Mansur, Bishop Rowley and King Henry are fascinating, fabulous characters, the research seems faultless and the stories are breathtakingly exciting. I can't recommend this series highly enough.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    What a joy and delight that the fourth book in a series is as wonderfully written as the previous three! In fact, it may even be my favorite one yet. Of course, having just finished it gives it an advantage over the others. The character of Adelia Aguilar is simply one of which I can't get enough. Franklin lets Adelia continue to grow and evolve as the events around her places her in the middle of history and danger. The relationship with Rowley (who doesn't love a forbidden love?) also continue What a joy and delight that the fourth book in a series is as wonderfully written as the previous three! In fact, it may even be my favorite one yet. Of course, having just finished it gives it an advantage over the others. The character of Adelia Aguilar is simply one of which I can't get enough. Franklin lets Adelia continue to grow and evolve as the events around her places her in the middle of history and danger. The relationship with Rowley (who doesn't love a forbidden love?) also continues to evolve, which strengthens both the characters and the story. Franklin does a masterful job of weaving Adelia's fictional story into a well blended and believable apendage of Henry II's real-life story. There was a bit more of a cliff-hanger in this last novel, which makes waiting for the next one so much the harder.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Felicia

    UUUGH Ok still great time era, research, details etc. But my least favorite of this series. Adelia and Rowley: I'm a fan but treading water a LOT in this relationship. Also Adelia was particularly whiney here to me. Ulf; Love seeing him back!!! Scarey: UGH I HATED HIM! I was so mad he wasn't resolved last book, and here he is, we know who he is most the book, he talks in italics, UGH I HATE HIM. HEY THIS BOOK SHOULDN"T HAVE HAD A CLIFFHANGER BECAUSE THAT ISN"T HOW THIS SERIES GOES AND BY THE WAY SAD UUUGH Ok still great time era, research, details etc. But my least favorite of this series. Adelia and Rowley: I'm a fan but treading water a LOT in this relationship. Also Adelia was particularly whiney here to me. Ulf; Love seeing him back!!! Scarey: UGH I HATED HIM! I was so mad he wasn't resolved last book, and here he is, we know who he is most the book, he talks in italics, UGH I HATE HIM. HEY THIS BOOK SHOULDN"T HAVE HAD A CLIFFHANGER BECAUSE THAT ISN"T HOW THIS SERIES GOES AND BY THE WAY SAD PART: The author just passed away. So we have no idea what happens after the IMMENSE CLIFFHANGER. Heartbroken. WORST. Sob.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jo

    4.5 stars This is the last in the Mistress of the art of Death series, sadly because Ariana Franklin passed away in 2011, and it is as just as wonderful as the others. Adelia Aguilar is one of my favorite historical characters in her non nonsense attitude to life, including physical appearance, social class and most particularly, being a female doctor at a time and in countries where this was regarded as abhorrent. The plot this time involves a journey as the blurb says and it was fascinating to h 4.5 stars This is the last in the Mistress of the art of Death series, sadly because Ariana Franklin passed away in 2011, and it is as just as wonderful as the others. Adelia Aguilar is one of my favorite historical characters in her non nonsense attitude to life, including physical appearance, social class and most particularly, being a female doctor at a time and in countries where this was regarded as abhorrent. The plot this time involves a journey as the blurb says and it was fascinating to hear about the lands the group traveled through with borders that have changed so much since then as well as the different peoples they encounter on their way. Religion is displayed in all its negative and positive ways from the Cathars of whom I knew nothing about, to tyrannical Catholics and hypocrites to the faith that keeps individuals going. There are some great new characters as well as the old staples like Rowley and Mansur and as usual the period detail of the cities, the clothes, customs and culture creates this world you don’t want to leave. Of course there is a mystery and this is played out artfully and an ending that makes you heartily wish that there had been just one more book at least.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie Wilson

    Another entertaining read in this entertaining series. I feel much less guilty about this candy because there is at least a kernel of historical justification for our liberated heroine in the actual existence of a medical school that admitted women in Salerno. Also, I enjoy the portrayal of Henry II in these books because when I saw the movie "Becket" I was vastly amused by Peter O'Toole's utterly dominating the film and totally stealing every scene from Burton's dreary Becket. Besides, I though Another entertaining read in this entertaining series. I feel much less guilty about this candy because there is at least a kernel of historical justification for our liberated heroine in the actual existence of a medical school that admitted women in Salerno. Also, I enjoy the portrayal of Henry II in these books because when I saw the movie "Becket" I was vastly amused by Peter O'Toole's utterly dominating the film and totally stealing every scene from Burton's dreary Becket. Besides, I thought Henry had the right of it in that dispute. There's a funny review of the movie at The Guardian. Here's the flavor of it - one that also brings home just how long ago was the 12th century: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2009... Technology Becket mentions to Henry an exciting new invention – the fork ... Henry's amazement is justified, for the fork did not actually arrive in England until over 400 years after his death ... In the middle ages, real men ate with spoons.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ram Kaushik

    Well researched and atmospheric book, set in the time of Richard Plantaganet. A feisty heroine navigates complex politics and intrigue while investigating dark deeds - enjoyable!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Gena

    This is the fourth in Ms. Franklin’s “Mistress of the Art of Death” series and sadly, due to her passing away, it is the last. In this book King Henry II forces Adelia Aguilar to accompany the Princess Joanna to Sicily for her wedding. Adelia is the only real medical authority he trusts to watch over his ten year old daughter on the long and arduous journey. Adelia is slightly reluctant about making the trip even though it is to her homeland but after nearly ten years in England she has grown to This is the fourth in Ms. Franklin’s “Mistress of the Art of Death” series and sadly, due to her passing away, it is the last. In this book King Henry II forces Adelia Aguilar to accompany the Princess Joanna to Sicily for her wedding. Adelia is the only real medical authority he trusts to watch over his ten year old daughter on the long and arduous journey. Adelia is slightly reluctant about making the trip even though it is to her homeland but after nearly ten years in England she has grown to love the country and the friends she has made. To ensure her return, Henry orders Adelia to leave her own beloved daughter, Allie, behind as hostage. Accompanied by her faithful friend Mansur, her lover Rowley, her friend Ulf, her dog Ward, and an array clerics, courtiers and pilgrims, Adelia sets off on a journey to deliver the princess to her new husband. But this trek across the continent is fraught with danger; disease, war and treachery dog the group of travelers causing suspicion to be cast upon Adelia and her entourage. She is forced to endure the ridicule of people who think her a witch and deflect the hatred of those turned against her by an old enemy. While within their midst the outlaw Scarry has infiltrated the Royal party and is working to bring Adelia to ruin before he kills her. It is a heart stopping race as The Mistress of the Art of Death must uncover the assassins’ identity, and insure the Princess’ safety, all while eluding the attempts at destroying her. This is an excellent ending to the series; the plot is intriguing, the characters engaging and the details amazing. I wasn’t sure who the bad guy was until she finally revealed him but I loved every false lead and twisting turn of the narrative! The only quibble I had is that when you reach the final page you realize there will be no more adventures with Adelia and her friends. I guess the only thing to do is go back and re-read them all again.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dorie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. **** WARNING -- Spoilers for the book's ending **** A conspiracy between Rowley and Henry II sends Adelia Aguilar back to Sicily, but without her daughter Allie. It seems Rowley is concerned Allie isn't learning the things a lady ought, and instead seems intent on her interest in animals and bugs. A furious Adelia is unaware that Rowley is also concerned for her life. It seems Scarey (a bad guy from the last novel) is trying to killer Adelia. So Adelia and Rowley set off with a contingent to esco **** WARNING -- Spoilers for the book's ending **** A conspiracy between Rowley and Henry II sends Adelia Aguilar back to Sicily, but without her daughter Allie. It seems Rowley is concerned Allie isn't learning the things a lady ought, and instead seems intent on her interest in animals and bugs. A furious Adelia is unaware that Rowley is also concerned for her life. It seems Scarey (a bad guy from the last novel) is trying to killer Adelia. So Adelia and Rowley set off with a contingent to escort Henry's daughter Joanna to Palermo in order to marry the Kind of Sicily. I enjoy Franklin's writing when her characters are traveling -- she just seems to have a gift for making the places and different characters they meet interesting. I also love the fact that Adelia's parents will be returning to make their home in England now, and I look forward to reading more of them in future books. I loved also the character of O'Donnell, and hope he finds happiness in future books as well. I do have two quibbles with the book, one being with the ending. How in the world could Franklin have ended things so abruptly, with the reader still unsure of a major character's life (not to mention livelihood). A very bizarre ending that I didn't appreciate at all. I also wasn't impressed by Scarey in this novel, either. As a villain he seemed a little one-dimensional to me. I actually felt a bit of sympathy for the man, losing his lover and then his mind becoming deranged. To me he was a very sick man psychologically, and the fact they left his body in the street at the end bothered me. Overall though this was a good entry to the series, and of course I look forward to reading many more.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    I've mixed emotions about this one. I love the series and wanted it to go on, but with the death of Ariana Franklin a few years back, this is the last book in the Mistress of the Art of Death series. I'm so glad I discovered the books, each one was better than the previous one. I've grown to feel a sentimental, personal attachment to the characters; the lovely, independent Adelia Aguilar, the Mistress of the art of death, who is confined to England by the King Henry II; her lover, Bishop Rowley, I've mixed emotions about this one. I love the series and wanted it to go on, but with the death of Ariana Franklin a few years back, this is the last book in the Mistress of the Art of Death series. I'm so glad I discovered the books, each one was better than the previous one. I've grown to feel a sentimental, personal attachment to the characters; the lovely, independent Adelia Aguilar, the Mistress of the art of death, who is confined to England by the King Henry II; her lover, Bishop Rowley, grumpy, irascible but always loving Adelia and their child; the aloof Mansur, the Arab eunuch who accompanied Adelia to England as her bodyguard and companion in the first book and has remained loyally by her side ever since and the others, an interesting assortment of well-crafted personalities who all enhance every story. Added in this story is the Irish Sea Captain, the O'Donnell, who also loves Adelia and you've got a fantastic mix. In this story, Henry assigns Adelia, Mansur and Rowley to escort his daughter, Princess Joanna, to Sicily to marry the Sicilian King as an alliance measure. An evil character from the previous story accompanies the party, with dangerous intent. A great story and mystery, as always, and a story filled with historical facts. Loved it. Try the series, you'll be hooked.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Peisenberg

    This series has been one of my favorites, and I was so sorry to read that the author has died. Although this is not the best in the series, still there are some fascinating things to learn about life in the early middle ages. The main character in this series is a female forensic medical examiner who has to pretend that her manservent is actually the doctor, lest she be killed as a witch. In this book, she is to accompany the King of England's daughter to Sicily, where she is to marry the king o This series has been one of my favorites, and I was so sorry to read that the author has died. Although this is not the best in the series, still there are some fascinating things to learn about life in the early middle ages. The main character in this series is a female forensic medical examiner who has to pretend that her manservent is actually the doctor, lest she be killed as a witch. In this book, she is to accompany the King of England's daughter to Sicily, where she is to marry the king of Sicily. Along the way, we learn a lot about religious sects, and religion of the time, court rivalries and deceptions, relationships between kingdoms, etc. Not to mention how women and different classes are treated. Then, of course, there is all of the information about medicine and healing. The books come completely to life and I will miss finding out how things end up for Adelia and Rowley and their daughter. Perhaps the author's daughter will finish the series!

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