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Chambers of Death: A Medieval Mystery (Medieval Mysteries) Hardcover – August 1, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

At the outset of Royal's absorbing sixth medieval mystery to feature Prioress Eleanor of Tyndal (after 2008's Forsaken Soul), Eleanor and a group returning from a journey through Norfolk take shelter from a bitter autumn rainstorm in a manor house near Tyndal after one of their party, a young nun, falls gravely ill. Eleanor and her companions receive a warm welcome, but they soon realize all is not well at the manor, whose residents include the earl of Lincoln's steward, the steward's family and staff. When a groom is brutally butchered in the stable and the cook accused of his murder, Eleanor and her faithful friend, Brother Thomas, can't help investigating what they soon see is a convenient rush to judgment by the local sheriff. As the death toll mounts, they discover any number of suspects among the manor's household. Once again, Royal combines a well-executed plot with authentic period detail. (Aug.)
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"Once again, Royal combines a well-executed plot with authentic period detail." --Publisher's Weekly

"Priscilla Royal understands the human heart, the medieval mind, and how to rachet up the suspense with each turning page. Her books keep getting better and better." --Sharon Kay Pen, NYT bestselling author

“Suspense and suspects abound as the devout duo winds its way through the startling twists and turns of the well-crafted plot. A worthy successor to Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael, Prioress Eleanor also compares favorably with Peter Tremayne’s Sister Fidelma.” –Booklist 


"The Evening Chorus" by Helen Humphreys
From a writer of delicate and incandescent prose, "The Evening Chorus" offers a beautiful, spare examination of the natural world and the human heart. See more

Product Details

  • Series: Medieval Mysteries (Book 6)
  • Hardcover: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press; 1 edition (August 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590586409
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590586402
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,872 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

A native of Washington State, Priscilla Royal grew up in New Westminster, BC. She graduated with a BA in world literature from San Francisco State University. In 2000, she retired from the federal civil service and now writes medieval mysteries full time. Medieval literature and history have fascinated her for almost half a century, and she delights in finding details that aren't usually mentioned in most fiction. As one example, her main characters belong to the very real Order of Fontevraud, a double house of monks and nuns, run by a woman in an era when conventional wisdom said that women were weak, illogical and should never rule men. The characters remain true to their time but exhibit universal characteristics. Although a fan of theater, modern mysteries, and fiction of lesser violence, she was inspired to write about medieval crime and punishment by the works of both Ellis Peters and Sharon Kay Penman. Visit her website at and her blog postings on The Lady Killers blog (

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 21 customer reviews
I have really been enjoying this series.
I love the interaction between the characters as well as the good mysteries.
Grandma Mike
Characters are maturing in their relationships and settling in.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By NC Reader VINE VOICE on March 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Lust and murder run rampant when a desperately ill novice forces Prioress Eleanor and Brother Thomas to break their journey on their way home to Tyndal. There is a great deal going on behind the scenes at this manor, and Eleanor and Thomas must carefully unravel the tangled relationships and motives without offending their host, steward to a powerful earl. I find this series interesting for it's seemingly accurate portrayal of medieval views on women, sexuality, illness, and the belief that evil stalked the earth in several very real forms - the Devil, Prince of Darkness, Satan, imps, incubi, succubi, etc. I also enjoy the interchanges between Eleanor and "her" monk - she struggles with the lust she feels for Thomas, and he struggles with melancholy over his homosexual urges. I find the constant references to "weak, illogical women" aggravating, but again, accurate for the times. Accuracy aside, I still sometimes find the secondary characters rather one-dimensional compared to those in the Dame Frevisse books (Margaret Frazer) and the Brother Cadfael series (Ellis Peters); often the characters come off as cardboard cut-outs of saintly goodness, ignorance, brutish ambition, etc., as opposed to real, multi-dimensional people. I read this series because of my fondness for Prioress Eleanor - her tact, diplomacy, and tough, "unnaturally" logical female mind are a treat to read, as are her interactions with her fellow nuns and the rest of her cast of "regulars". A good series for medieval mystery fans.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on August 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
On her way back to Tyndal Priory, Prioress Eleanor, Brother Tomas and potential postulant Mariota are caught in a dangerous storm so need shelter especially with Mariota being very ill. They are fortunate that Master Stevyn, the steward overseeing the estates of Lord Henry de Lacy, offers them a place to stay as much longer in the torrential rain could have sent Mariota to her maker.

From the moment they enter the manor house, the guests sense dark indiscretions and secrets abound amidst their host family. Mistress Constance remains celibate though married to Stevyn's heir, Master Renulf, who has a rather poor opinion about women. The steward's wife Mistress Luce is cuckolding him with Tobye the Groom. The second son defies his father when he chooses not to become a priest as expected by his family and society; instead he just stalks around the manor When Tobye is murdered, the sheriff does not want to investigate the family for fear of retribution so instead arrests the cook to shut the case. Eleanor begins an investigation as she believes the cook is innocent especially when a servant is stabbed; however even the Prioress is unaware how dangerous her inquiry will prove, but she will find out rather quickly the hard way.

The series (see FORSAKEN SOUL) takes place during the early years of the reign of Edward I; a time when people firmly believed that imps and Satan walked the earth influencing evil behavior. That sense of life along with a deep look at the cultures of the Church and aristocracy anchor time and place. Eleanor is a strong person who in spite of her religious beliefs insists that some evil is not Satan spawned. Instead she assumes Tobye's homicide and several murders that follow are caused by a human predator. Fans of medieval mysteries will appreciate another great whodunit by a Royal master of the sub-genre.

Harriet Klausner
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Priscilla Royal's sixth book in her Medieval Mysteries series is a well-written tale of murder, religious self-questioning and secular history in 13th century England. The main characters, Mother Eleanor of Tyndale - a very young head of convent/monastery - and her aide, Brother Thomas, who has come to his vocation in a rather roundabout way - take shelter in a lord's steward's house when caught in bad weather with a sick novice. The members of the household are introduced and soon people are being murdered. (Poor Mother Eleanor - she has a way of attracting murder!). As with the previous five books in Royal's series, Mother Eleanor and Brother Thomas find the murderer.

But what separates Royal's writing from general historic fiction is her careful depiction of the times she is writing about. Very few historical errors - though she does "appologise" for one in a previous book, and the reader learns as well as enjoys her books.

Another ace effort, Ms Royal.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By James Dainis on November 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a fan of this series and the relationship Prioress Eleanor and Brother Thomas have, the struggles they face with their own personal demons and the accurate depictions of the times in which the stories take place. But, there was very little feel in this novel of common everyday life. Indeed, while reading, one would think that the only things prevalent in those days of yore were lust and more lust which all of the female characters suffer from, women whose flaming loins could only be quenched by the stable groom. Things would temper down a bit for an older woman - "Lust we do feel, but the burning in our loins is more temperate than when I could bear children...".

The story becomes a bit tedious, with one murder after another followed by speculation and conjecture but no real clues. Eleanor and Thomas do their best but all their inquiries simply lead to more conjecture and speculation and on and on. I found the ending in which the murderer is revealed to be a bit unsatisfactory.

I admire the way with words which Ms Royal has. That adds a good deal of pleasure in reading her novels. They also give a feel for the time in which the story takes place:

"Although night is the time when imps lewdly dance in the guise of shadows and the Prince of Darkness fills wicked souls with the desire to do evil unto other mortals, it is also the hour of dreams, often bitter but on occasion sweet."

Still, I would have liked to have seen less of the word "lust" appearing several times per chapter, more clues provided and more detail of everyday life.
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