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A Vigil of Spies

Saturday, November 21, 2020

A Vigil of Spies (2008) Candace Robb (Owen Archer)

A Vigil of SpiesSet in England in 1373.

Archbishop Thoresby of York is dying.

There is about to be a power vacuum in York, and various power brokers are trying to influence the selection of his successor.

Princess Joan, married to the heir to the English Throne, has come to York to ask Thoresby for advice, but a death in her retinue is possibly murder, and Owen Archer has to keep the Princess safe while helping to keep the dying Archbishop as contented and happy as possible.

We get very little Lucie and those at the Apothecary in this story here, as the story is focused on Thoresby and everything happening around him.

I particularly liked (that’s not quite the correct word) Michaelo’s story arc.

‘My uncle took him as his secretary for reasons other than fondness,’ said Ravenser, ‘but over time I believe he’s come to have a deep affection for him. It appears he symbolises for my uncle the power of penance, renunciation of sins, redemption.

Michaelo remains arrogant and fastidious, but he is a much better person than he was in the first book–and far more complex as time has gone on.

I also loved the interactions between Thoresby and Magda Digby.

‘But this Riverwoman is not a Christian,’ Master Walter was saying, apparently intent on pursuing the topic.

‘No, Dame Magda is not a Christian, but she would give her life for another’s if that is what she deemed necessary. Perhaps she does not need all the prayer that most of us require to teach us to love one another.’

Including telling Thoresby why she refers to herself in the third person (a quirk that has been with her since the beginning.)

But also just being herself.

‘Hast thou ever thought that what Black Swan feels for men is simply his nature? Nothing to punish him for?’

‘God condemned sodomy.’

‘Men wrote thy bible. Men lead thy church. Men create unnatural laws that cripple their fellow men so that they might control those they do not understand. Thy church has made many such laws, and good men who serve thy church suffer for no good cause.’

One of the things the mystery does is emphasize precisely how much power the church held at that time–secular power as well as spiritual power.

That people would kill for such power.

It ends on a sad note, with Thoresby’s death, but he did not die before his time. He led a full life, he sinned and repented, and could hate as much as he could forgive. It is a sad ending, but it is fitting to close the book with the close of Thoresby.

Publisher : Diversion Books
Rating: 8/10

Categories: 8/10, British, Historical, Mystery, Re-Read     Comments (0)    



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