Christmas 1519 is the twentieth anniversary of King Turlough Donn s reign over the three kingdoms of Thomond, Corcomroe and Burren, so Mara and her scholars are spending the festive period in her husband s principal court, the castle of Bunratty in Thomond. However, in the midst of celebrations, the Brehon of Thomond is found dead, slumped across a table with a knife protruding from below his shoulder blade, while all around him Turlough s relations and friends dance and feast.
Mara s difficult task in probing the motives of the multiple suspects, made worse by her suspicion that someone near and dear to her is involved, is interrupted by a dramatic attack on the castle. Turlough s cannon has been sabotaged and now a trebuchet batters the castle with huge rocks and the lives of all are at risk. Has this treachery and betrayal anything to do the mysterious death of the Brehon, but most importantly how will Mara s husband answer the call for surrender . . .?”
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
From the very first sentence this is an enchanting book with careful descriptions of the setting that bring the story to life. Cora Harrison is a wonderful writer. In a world where it seems that we have seen it all, done it all and read it all before, she reminds the reader why they love literature in the first place with her beautiful word choices and compelling plot.
One of my favourite things about this novel, was the way the plot gently unfolded. It felt very natural and not as if the author had to keep coercing it into behaving as she wished it to. One event sprung from another and there was never a time when I wished this story would hurry along.
The dialogue was excellent and interesting and written exactly as one would expect for a book set in this period. The characters each seemed to have their own way of speaking and reflecting their personality, which is really important in any novel, I believe. Being able to distinguish class, education and so forth from the way a character speaks makes the novel feel so much more alive and believable.
I love historical novels, and I appreciated that this one was researched so well and had such a solid foundation for the story. If you are also interested in historical novels, you can’t go wrong with this one.
I recommend it.
This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided by Netgalley. All opinions are my own.