Discussion Forums - Historical Fiction

Topic: Not sure what to call this...medieval mysteries?

Club rule - Please, if you cannot be courteous and respectful, do not post in this forum.
  Unlock Forum posting with Annual Membership.
Subject: Not sure what to call this...medieval mysteries?
Date Posted: 2/19/2009 1:56 PM ET
Member Since: 9/23/2006
Posts: 6,362
Back To Top

I'm going to show my total ignorance here ...

I used to keep finding people with books on their wish lists that involved these people in England with unpronounceable names, generally wandering around doing something (curing people, etc.)  One had a husband but I think he stayed with his mistress or something.  Anway, they all kind of blended together and I've generally thought penicillin was a terrific discovery.  The closest I ever came to these were Ellis Peters' Bro. Cadfael books and that was years ago.

Okay - I thought maybe I should give this type of a book a chance and for some reason I put Kate Sedley's "Three Kings of Cologne" in my rental queue.  It's been on there for a long time but, as you may have guessed, I wasn't in any hurry.  Now they say they can't get it.  In fact, they only have one of her books listed.

I like to rent books like this because if I don't like them, they can go back.  They still have another of her books listed but maybe there's another series I could try?  I'm not even sure why I picked that one, although I'll guess I must have seen a review or recommendation.  I do like mysteries and I don't like extremely long books.

Thanks for your help.  I had thought this book might even show up and fulfill one of my HF challenge slots.

Date Posted: 2/19/2009 3:34 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,438
Back To Top

Mom & I both adored the Justin de Quincy medieval mystery series written by Sharon Kay Penman. First one is The Queen's Man. (Setting is Eleanor of Aquitaine - late 1100's.

ALSO the Sir Robert Carey series written by P.F. Chisholm - set on the English & Scottish border during Elizabeth I's reign (latter 1500's). First one is A Famine of Horses.

You might see if either of these series would suit - they are short, well-developed historical mystery series that we enjoyed and wish we had more of.

Then, there is also the Priscilla Royal series about a nun in medieval England - these are quite interesting and give the reader a close look at the day to day life of people who were in the business of helping people - spirtually and physically. The first one of this series is Wine of Violence.

Have you ever visited the website www.fantasticfiction.co.uk? It is a wondeful source for several things - not the least of which is that they keep series all together - in order - w/ links to synopses ... and there is also some cross-referrals to other authors. We have found this website to be quite useful in the past ...

Good luck ... Kelly


Last Edited on: 2/19/09 3:34 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/19/2009 4:42 PM ET
Member Since: 9/23/2006
Posts: 6,362
Back To Top

Thanks, Kelly.  I'll check into the first two series. 

Date Posted: 2/19/2009 8:01 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
Posts: 2,513
Back To Top

Someone recommended the Sister Fidelima mysteries to me, I have the first one in my TBR pile.

Date Posted: 2/19/2009 8:39 PM ET
Member Since: 9/23/2006
Posts: 6,362
Back To Top

Thank you all.  I added a Sister Fidelma book to my list although some of the others did sound interesting.  This does not seem to be my genre but I'm going to try it.  Maybe I'd get into it, but so many of the books are long too, lol.

I ran screaming from one when I saw that someone had compared it to Diana Gabaldon :-)  Okay, I didn't scream, but I backed out.

Date Posted: 2/20/2009 10:58 AM ET
Member Since: 8/10/2005
Posts: 4,603
Back To Top

Ohhhhhhhhh Diana...medieval mysteries are my very favorite! Don't get me started!! Ooops, too late! :) I love Kate Sedley's Roger the Chapman series but I never can find them here and sat on wishlists for ages without moving so I just get them from my library now. Brother Cadfael is probably my all-time favorite series.Sister Fidelma is wonderful too, although it's a bit before actual medieval times, it's set in 7th century Ireland. And Sister Fidelma is NOTHING like Diana Gabaldon. :D

Others I like that are set in roughly medieval times....loosely, from 1000 to 1500ish...

  • Susanna Gregory's Matthew Bartholomew...takes place in 1500's Cambridge, the first one set during the worst of the Black Death, and Matthew is a physician.
  • Candace Robb's Owen Archer series, set in Yorkshire in the 1300's. She also has another short series (only 3 books) featuring Dame Margaret Kerr, which take place in Scotland in the 1200's.
  • Sharon Kay Penman's Justin de Quincy series, set during late 1100-early 1200's England. Only four of those so far but I live in hope she'll write another soon.
  • Alan Gordon's Fools Guild series set all across Europe in the 1100-1200's featuring Feste the Fool, a jester and member of the Fools Guild, which is a guild of spies. (These are WONDERFUL!)
  • Pat McIntosh's Gil Cunningham series set in Scotland during 1400's Scotland. He is sort of a lawyer/investigator for the church.
  • Sharan Newman's Catherine le Vendeur series set in 1200's France, featuring a French ex-nun now married to a Scot.
  • Bernard Knight's Crowner John series set in early 1200's Devon, UK--he is the first ever coroner for the county of Devon, although a coroner was quite a different animal from what they are today.
  • Caroline Roe's Isaac of Girona series set in 15th century Spain, featuring a blind Jewish physician and his family.
  • Alys Clare's Hawkenlye Abbey series, which features the Abbess Helewise of fictional Hawkenlye Abbey as well as Sir Josse d'Acquin, a knight for King Richard.

These are all series I've enjoyed and continue to enjoy. There are others out there that I haven't sampled yet, some on my TBR, but I need to try to get caught up on some of these other series before starting more. There are also some others I've tried that I didn't much care for and didn't read more than one book--namely series by Michael Jecks, Margaret Frazer, Priscilla Royal, and anything by Paul (PC) Doherty in any of his pseudonyms--just found those very dry. But everyone should try anything once I think, never know what's going to appeal to you and what isn't!


Last Edited on: 2/20/09 11:00 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/20/2009 4:29 PM ET
Member Since: 4/15/2005
Posts: 456
Back To Top

I love, love, love Sharan Newman's Catherine LeVendeur series -- what I've read to date at least.  The first remains my favorite though.  I sort of burned out on them after 4-5 in quick sucession.  Maybe it's time to pick them up again.


Date Posted: 2/20/2009 11:53 PM ET
Member Since: 9/23/2006
Posts: 6,362
Back To Top

Goodness, Cheryl!  You really do love those books! 

I kind of knew "medieval" wasn't exactly accurate but I wasn't sure how to describe them.  Thanks for the list.  (I don't remember which ones were described as being like Diana Gabaldon, but it wasn't Sister F.  It may not have been a fair comment either.  I've seen some book jacket blurbs that were very odd, nevermind what Amazon reviewers might say.)  I have seen some of those names.

Thanks, Marci.  I recall seeing that series mentioned. 

Date Posted: 2/27/2009 11:48 AM ET
Member Since: 9/23/2006
Posts: 6,362
Back To Top

They are sending me a Sister Fidelma book in my next rental so I will be trying that series.  I like the "no decisions" aspect of that sometimes :) 

(Yes, I know she's not medieval but I didn't know how to describe all those books.)