Book Review: Relics of the Dead by Ariana Franklin

The Author:

Diana Norman, writing as Ariana Franklin, was born on the 25th August 1933 and passed away on the 27th January 2011. She was a British author and journalist writing both historical fiction and non-fiction. She was born in Devon. Her father was a journalist and she followed this profession until moving to the countryside with her film critic husband Barry Norman. There she studied medieval history and continued to write. Writing as Ariana Franklin, she developed the “Mistress of the Art of Death” series, featuring the fictional medieval pathologist Adelia Aguilar. The Assassin’s Prayer (also known as A Murderous Procession) is the fourth and final book.

The Book:

In 1176 the beautiful and tranquil Glastonbury Abbey has been burned almost to the ground. It is one of England’s holiest sites and believed by some to be King Arthur’s sacred Isle of Avalon. The arsonist remains undiscovered but the fire leads the monks of the Abbey two uncover two hidden skeletons, a man and a woman. The skeletons’ height and age send rumors flying – are these the remains of Arthur and Guinevere?

King Henry II certainly hopes so. Struggling against a rebellion in Wales where the legend of Arthur is particularly strong, Henry demands definitive proof that the bones are Arthur’s. If the rebels believe the Once and Future King will not be coming to their aid, Henry can stamp out the belligerent Welsh subjects for good. So he calls on Adelia Aguilar, Mistress of the Art of Death, to examine the bones.

But someone doesn’t want the skeletons to be identified and is prepared to kill in order to prevent this from happening.

My Verdict:

This is the second book (although the third in this series) by this author that I have read (see my other review “The Assassin’s Prayer”). I am reading this quartet of books backwards as I am buying them as I find them. However, each book can be read as a novel on its own. As I stated in my previous review, I will most definitely now be reading the other two.

As with the others, it is an historical medieval novel, set in the early 12th century in England. It is a wonderful, unpretentious adventure story.

Again, it is not your typical whodunit plot. There are many sub-plots although the primary plot is more definitive and resolved than in her last novel and there is more investigative work actually done in the book.

It is an easy, enjoyable read with a cast of characters as richly embroidered as those in her other novel, and yet again, the historical aspects of the investigation are fascinating and the information on the religious and political landscape during the middle ages is well imparted. Adelia is a beguiling heroine with modern feminist attitudes and an independent spirit, uncommon during the time of the Crusades.

If you like a bit of mystery with some interesting history thrown in, then you’ll love this!


About Eloise Robbertze

I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, on the 18th July. I have lived in South Africa all my life, but have travelled extensively and loved every trip more than the last one. I now am lucky enough to have the opportunity to live in Malta, and I am relishing this experience. I have a husband, two children, and a camera.
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