It is late summer in the year 1270 and England is as weary as its aging king, Henry III. Although the Simon de Montfort rebellion is over, the smell of death still hangs like smoke over the land. Even in the small priory of Tyndal on the remote East Anglian coast, the monks and nuns of the Order of Fontevraud long for a return to tranquil routine. Their hopes are dashed, however, when the young and inexperienced Eleanor of Wynethorpe is appointed their new prioress over someone of their own choosing. Nor are Eleanor's own prayers for a peaceful transition answered. Only a day after her arrival, a brutally murdered monk is found in the cloister gardens, and Brother Thomas, a young priest with a troubled past, arrives to bring her a more personal grief. Now she must not only struggle to gain the respect of her terrified and resentful flock but also cope with violence, lust and greed in a place dedicated to love and peace.
In the year 1270 on the remote East Anglican coast, the new prioress of Tyndal priory (a small "double house" where the monks and nuns run a hospital), the young Eleanor of Wynethorpe, is prepared to face some resentment but not the dire consequences of several deadly sins, including lust, in Royal's stellar debut. Eleanor's political appointment, a reward to her parents for their loyalty to King Henry III, has embittered some of the Tyndal nuns and monks, particularly Sister Ruth, who was assuming the job would be hers. Eleanor knows that gaining the trust of the sisters and brothers she's to lead is vital, but when a beloved monk is found murdered in the cloister gardens, Eleanor has a brutal killer to deal with as well. The arrival of a young priest, Brother Thomas, struggling with the demons created by a crime he committed compounds her problems. As the violence continues, Eleanor, Thomas and the local coroner join forces to investigate. With its intriguing plot, chilling conclusion and characters who exhibit universal and timeless feelings, this fresh first has all the potential to evolve into a series as enduring as Ellis Peters's Brother Cadfael books.
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Poisoned Pen Press
January 29, 2006
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