Synopsis according to Goodreads:
"England, 1176. Beautiful, tranquil Glastonbury Abbey—one of England's holiest sites, and believed by some to be King Arthur's sacred Isle of Avalon—has been burned almost to the ground. The arsonist remains at large, but the fire has uncovered something even more shocking: two hidden skeletons, a man and a woman. The skeletons' height and age send rumors flying- are the remains those of Arthur and Guinevere?
King Henry II hopes so. Struggling to put down a rebellion in Wales, where the legend of Celtic savior Arthur is particularly strong, Henry wants definitive proof that the bones are Arthur's. If the rebels are sure that the Once and Future King will not be coming to their aid, Henry can stamp out the insurgence for good. He calls on Adelia Aguilar, Mistress of the Art of Death, to examine the bones.
Henry's summons comes not a moment too soon, for Adelia has worn out her welcome in Cambridge. As word of her healing powers has spread, so have rumors of witchcraft. So Adelia and her household ride to Glastonbury, where the investigation into the abbey fire will be overseen by the Church authorities—in this case, the Bishop of St. Albans, who happens also to be the father of Adelia's daughter."
Right on the heels of The Serpent's Tale, I was lucky enough to read the third in the Mistress of the Art of Death series, Grave Goods.
Like with all the others, Adelia is a feisty, intelligent heroine, who is also hobbled by her gender (given that it's set during the reign of Henry II). This story takes place a few years after the second book does. This time, it's set around a mystery in Glastonbury. There's plenty of reference to Arthurian legend, as well as (of course) early medical science.
As before, you can read this as a stand alone, though you may be a bit lost with the rare references to events of the second and first books. Truthfully, those bits are only to establish that there's a romantic history between Adelia and Rowley- which is obvious enough as it is.
I recommend it for fans of the first and second book in the series, fans of Arthurian legend (especially the historical bits), medieval historical fiction, intelligent female protagonists, and CSI-style murder mysteries.
Labels: ariana franklin, arthurian legend, book review, female protagonist, grave goods, historical fiction, medieval, mistress of the art of death, murder, mystery