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Grave Goods (Mistress of the Art of Death) Hardcover – Bargain Price, March 19, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 121 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, March 19, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Set in 1176, Franklin's excellent third Mistress of the Art of Death novel (after The Serpent's Tale) finds Adelia Aguilar, a qualified doctor from the School of Medicine in Salerno, in the holy town of Glastonbury, where Henry II has sent her to inspect two sets of bones rumored to be those of Arthur and Guinevere. Henry is hoping that an unequivocally dead Arthur will discourage the rebellious Welsh. The bones have been uncovered by the few monks, under the saintly Abbot Sigward, who remain after a terrible and mysterious fire devastated the town and abbey. Adelia's party includes her loyal Arabian attendant, Mansur, whose willingness to play the role of doctor allows Adelia to be his translator and practice the profession she loves; and Gyltha, Mansur's lover and the caretaker of Adelia's small daughter, Allie. Eloquently sketched characters, including a ragtag group of Glastonbury men down on their luck, and bits of medieval lore flavor the constantly unfolding plot. (Mar.)
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From Booklist

Rich period detail supersedes suspense in Franklin’s second historical novel to feature twelfth-century forensic investigator Adelia Aguilar. A graduate of the Salerno School of Medicine, Adelia is one of the few female doctors of her era. But her professional efforts are often thwarted by those who believe her to be a witch. King Henry II isn’t one of them. When Glastonbury Abbey, one of England’s holiest sites, is burned to the ground, Henry summons the “Mistress of the Art of Death” to identify two skeletons found among the rubble. Could they be the bodies of the legendary King Arthur and his Lady Guinevere? King Henry hopes so. News of King Arthur’s demise would help him snuff out the rebellion in Wales for good. With the help of her Arab assistant, Mansur, Adelia picks through the bones in pursuit of the truth. But her obstacles are many: wary villagers, enigmatic men of the cloth, and a monster lurking in the woods. Plenty of dark cellars and caves add a whiff of Gothic to this engaging entry. --Allison Block

Product Details

  • Series: Mistress of the Art of Death
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult; 1 edition (March 19, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399155449
  • ASIN: B002WTC8QQ
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,943,037 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ariana Franklin is the pen name of British writer Diana Norman. A former journalist, Norman has written several critically acclaimed biographies and historical novels. She lives in Hertfordshire, England, with her husband, the film critic Barry Norman.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This third book in the 'Mistress of the Art of Death' series finds the Salerno trained forensic physician Adelia Aguilar dispatched to the newly destroyed Glastonbury Abbey by Henry II to investigate a pair of skeletons that Henry hopes will turn out to be King Arthur and his queen. Once there, Adelia becomes entangled with a most charming, if odorous, group of rogues who are attempting to prove the innocence of one of their deceased brethren. Add to this her friend Emma who has gone missing, a saintly abbot, an innkeeper who faints from fright when meeting Adelia, an isle of lepers, haunting dreams, and, of course, Rowly, bishop of St. Albans and father of Adelia's daughter, Allie.

If there are more delightful literary characters than Franklin's Adelia, Rowly, and King Henry II, I can't think who they are. I would say that characterization is her strong point; however, her historical research is meticulous (though it never burdens the reader) and her plotting is expert. So what's not to like?

If you haven't read Franklin, by all means start with the first book in the series; the characters actually develop and their relationships change. And keep in mind that Franklin is Diana Norman; the books written under the Norman name are worth a look too.
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Format: Hardcover
I read "The Serpent's Tale" before reading the first book in the series and I was impressed that "Serpent" was linked to "Mistress of the Art of Death," but not dependent on it. This third book is not as strong in that respect. Further, the first two books presented realistically drawn characters with both Adelia and Rowley defying the physical attributes of most fictional heroes. (She's no great beauty; neither does he look like Fabio.) So, I expected the writer to more forcefully develop the lead characters - and to see more of Mansur and Glytha, the supporting cast. While "Grave Goods" continues with the complicated relationship between the medical detective and the bishop, it just doesn't hit the high notes like in the earlier books. Still, Franklin tells a good, history-based tale with interesting twists to the several related mysteries. Another good touch: Again, the Author's Note at the end explains the areas where the writer took liberties with historical record to advance the story. I just hope that as we see in too many fiction series, that the writer isn't running out of steam.
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Format: Hardcover
[ The Mistress of the Art of Death series recounts the adventures in medieval England of Adelia Vesuvia Rachel Aguilar, a rare woman trained as a medical doctor in the famous schools of Salerno. Under the summons of King Henry II, in Book I, Adelia arrives in England to solve a mystery concerning the murders of many children. Though disgusted by him at first, she meets and falls in love with Sir Rowley Picot, but chooses to undergo an unofficial relationship with him in order to maintain her independence. In Book II (The Serpent's Tale), the King's favorite concubine Rosamund is found dead, and Adelia is summoned to solve the mystery. Adelia has settled into a home in the fens with Glytha--and Rowley's child, whom she is determined to raise without him. (After Adelia had spurned married life with him, Rowley had taken the King's offer to become Bishop Rowley.) Book III in this historical fiction saga (with its own quirky dose of forensics) puts Adelia in the midst of the uncovering of truth in legend. ]

The story begins in the year 1154 A.D., when a cathedral-destroying earthquake strikes Glastonbury, England, creating a fissure in the earth--where the alleged remains of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere's bodies would be found. Twenty years later, King Henry II fights to gain his lands in Wales--against a people who don't recognize him as King, believing that King Arthur (who lived in the 6th century) is still alive. Henry thus summons Adelia away from her otherwise normal life to investigate the truth of Arthur's bones--and, he hopes, to prove to the Welsch that their so-called King had long ago died.

Adelia is traveling with Lady Emma Wolvercote (the abbey choirgirl in Book II, raped by the late Lord Wolvercote), when the King's men arrive to take her off course.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was also published with the title "Relics of the Dead".

England of 1176 under the rule of King Henry II was not a time when a woman was accepted as a doctor. Consequently Adelia Aguilar kept up the pretense that her Arab attendant, Mansur, was the doctor and she was his translator. Fortunately for Adelia the King had already accepted her knowledge and her vocation and had no problems with calling her in to help solve the mystery of two skeletons found buried in the same coffin. Was it possible that King Arthur and Guinevere had been buried at Glastonbury Abbey? Henry needed for these bones to belong to Arthur and Quinevere to help quiet the Welsh uprisings he was having to fight. Although the king wanted the truth to be found, he certainly would have been pleased to have the truth become a weapon for his political use.

I enjoyed Adelia with her passion for using science and truth to solve mysteries. Even having to hide her abilities because she was a woman did not slow her down for very long and she was adept at turning situations to her favor with her insight into human nature. People wanted to believe that Mansur was the doctor simply because of his gender. Then let them believe that, Adelia would just work around that problem. Perhaps her character was written with just a touch too much "modern" woman for me, but I do understand that she could not possibly perform the functions of the novel's main character without stepping outside her time period in many situations. And besides, how else were we as readers supposed to feel sympathy for this woman while also remaining interested in the perils she was encountering?
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