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Recently we discussed Medieval Mysteries at our bookgroup. Members had read a variety of titles from this genre (see list below), and many had read more than one. Surprisingly it was not well liked. I believe they kept reading more in the hope that the next book would be better. Selected titles were easy to read, so did not take long to read, but also did not provide a lot of intellectual stimulation. The main complaint was that authors spent too much effort detailing medieval life and not developing characters. It didn’t matter how good the background was, if the characters and plot were not up to scratch, the book was no good. Margaret Fraser was singled out for her atrocious language. Her dialogue was very contrived and did not reflect the language used at the time, and in the opinion of the reviewer, was not even a good parody of the language which would have been anglo-saxon, not English.
Suggested authors were:
Beaufort, Simon. The king's spies.
Bradshaw, Gillian. The wolf hunt.
Bragg, Melvyn, 1939- Credo.
Chevalier, Tracy. The lady and the unicorn.
Clare, Alys. Series Title: Hawkenlye
Cornwell, Bernard. The archer's tale.
Deveraux, Jude. The taming ; The conquest
Doherty, P. C. (Paul C.) Series Title: Sorrowful mysteries of Brother Athelstan This series was originally published under the author's pseudonym of Paul Harding.
Eco, Umberto, 1932- Baudolino. The name of the rose
Eisner, Michael Alexander. The crusader : a novel.
Frazer, Margaret. The bastard's tale (and a whole pile of other tales)
Gordon, Alan R. A death in the Venetian quarter : a medieval mystery
Grace, C. L. A feast of poisons.
Gregory, Susanna. Series Title: Chronicles of Matthew Bartholomew
Grunwald, Henry A. (Henry Anatole) A saint, more or less.
Hamilton, Sylvian. The Gleemaiden.
Jecks, Michael. The outlaws of Ennor. The tolls of death.
Kaufman, Pamela. Shield of three lions. The book of Eleanor.
Knight, Bernard. Series Title: Crowner John mystery
Lawhead, Steve. Series Title: Celtic crusades
Penman, Sharon Kay. Dragon's lair : a medieval mystery.
Peters, Ellis, 1913- Series Title: Brother Cadfael Chronicles
Pulman, Felicity, 1945- Series Title: Janna mysteries
Robb, Candace. Series Title: Owen Archer series
Sedley, Kate. The weaver's tale : a medieval mystery.
Sword of Shame : a historical mystery / by the Medieval murderers, Michael Jecks [et al.] Summary: Five entralling interlinked mysteries from Bernard Knight, Ian Morson, Michael Jecks, Susanna Gregory and Philip Gooden, with a prologue by Michael Jecks.
The tainted relic : an historical mystery / by the Medieval Murderers, Simon Beaufort [et al.]. Summary: Five enthralling interlinked mysteries from Bernard Knight, Ian Morson, Michael Jecks, Susanna Gregory and Philip Gooden, with a prologue by Simon Beaufort. Tremayne, Peter, 1943- Badger's moon.
One author to get the best reviews, was Felicity Pulman, (spelt with one ‘l’) who writes for young adults. Her books had been read by at least three of the group and rated well, taking into account the audience they were written for. Quite by accident, the week after the discussion group, I spoke to Felicity Pulman, who was eager to hear what the group had to say about medieval mysteries. She took all comments very seriously and will keep them in mind when writing her next book – keep developing characters, make sure you have a worthy plot, the background is important, but keep it in the background and keep the language real as you are still writing for a modern audience. I asked Felicity about her research. She has done extensive work into Arthurian legend, and the medieval era. She was very disappointed as she had recently broken her foot, which meant she had to delay a trip to England. She was keen to see the countryside in autumn, and wanted to walk in forests and other places she puts her characters. You may like to check out Felicity’s website at http://www.felicitypulman.com.au/ . She covers information about her books (which are published by Random house), biography, as well as about her research, medieval mumbo-jumbo and also provides links to writing sites and other authors of her ilk. Felicity has written the Shalott series, Guinevere Jones books and episodes for the television series in conjunction with Sophie Masson, and her most recent works the Janna Mysteries – all medieval based.
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