A review of books related to the Middle Ages.

THIS will be the first of a series of book reviews I will attempt to do, regarding a variety of subjects from how-to projects to sheer escapist mind-candy. I write this in the hope of helping us to become more well rounded reenactors and people. I hope you enjoy them.

THE QUEEN’S MAN - Sharon Kay Penman, (Henry Holt and Company)

This is a book written by (in my opinion) one of the best historical fiction authors of the twentieth century. She has a vast range of books, mostly dealing with England and Wales, that I fully intend to review in future articles. The Queen’s Man is special because it is her first foray into the realm of the mystery genre.

The main character is Justin de Quincy, the bastard son of a bishop who finds himself thrust into the political intrigues of the Plantagenet court after witnessing the murder of a goldsmith waylaid by bandits on the Winchester road. The merchant charges him to deliver a bloodstained letter to Queen Eleanor in London, to warn of King Richard Lionheart’s capture by his enemies while returning from the Third Crusade.

Eleanor takes Justin into her service to learn if the goldsmith’s murder is politically motivated by her son, Prince John in his quest to usurp the throne, or if the gold- smith’s own family was behind the murder and robbery.

Ms. Penman weaves a wondrously colorful tapestry of intrigingly realistic characters both good and evil. As in her other books, she seems to have a way to open a window into 12th-century Europe that few people can.