Thursday, May 9, 2013

Review: "The Fifth Knight" by E.M. Powell


Synopsis:  To escape a lifetime of poverty, mercenary Sir Benedict Palmer agrees to one final, lucrative job: help King Henry II’s knights seize the traitor Archbishop Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. But what begins as a clandestine arrest ends in cold-blooded murder. And when Fitzurse, the knights’ ringleader, kidnaps Theodosia, a beautiful young nun who witnessed the crime, Palmer can sit silently by no longer. For not only is Theodosia’s virtue at stake, so too is the secret she unknowingly carries—a secret he knows Fitzurse will torture out of her. Now Palmer and Theodosia are on the run, strangers from different worlds forced to rely only on each other as they race to uncover the hidden motive behind Becket’s grisly murder—and the shocking truth that could destroy a kingdom.

My Thoughts:  Wow! I don't know what I was expecting when I decided to read this but what I got was a fast-paced, action-packed historical mystery.  I have read a lot about Eleanor of Acquitaine's life but I have paid little attention to her husband, Henry II, and his issues with Thomas Becket.  This story starts out with the murder of Thomas Becket and follows Sir Benedict Palmer and Sister Theodosia as they seek the truth behind Becket's death.

Palmer was one of those characters that you start off not liking but who slowly redeems himself throughout the story.  He came off as greedy and arrogant but as events unfold the reader gets to see his softer side and personally, I really liked him.  I also liked Theodosia but I struggled with my feelings about her times too.  It was hard to see her be so constrained by her religious upbringing and to watch her deal with her conflicting feelings about the path her life should follow.  She had moments where she was such a tough character and then she would revert into being a silly, scared, naive girl who just wanted to go back to being secluded from the world at large.  As I did with Palmer, I began to like her more as the story progressed.  Oh, and I can't forget about Fitzurse.  He was such a great villain!  He was the bad guy who just would not die.  Every time I thought he was out of the picture, he would show back up.  He was a great addition to the story!

There were several big, unexpected twist toward the end of the story and honestly, I never saw them coming.  I love when I don't figure out the twists before they happen!  I liked how the author changed up the usual story of why Thomas Becket was murder and took some of the heat off of Henry II.  It definitely made this book different than any other I have read about this era.  As a whole, the story was excellent; there was the right mix of romance and mystery along with a lot of action.  It's a must read for any fan of historical fiction and I will definitely be looking for other books by this author. 4 stars.

About the Author:
E. M. Powell was born and raised in Ireland, a descendant of Irish revolutionary Michael Collins. At University College, Cork, she discovered a love of Anglo-Saxon and medieval English during her study of literature and geography. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Manchester Irish Writers, the Historical Novel Society, and International Thriller Writers. A reviewer for the Historical Novel Society, she lives today in Manchester, England, with her husband and daughter.


 
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