22 May 2017

TO CATCH THE CONSCIENCE OF THE KING.

TO CATCH THE CONSCIENCE OF THE KING by MARTIN WHITE.

BACK COVER BLURB: 1327:

King Edward II has fallen from power. He is imprisoned, and must be referred to now merely 'Sir Edward of Caernarvon'.

Brother Stephen de Birstin, lately down from Oxford, finds himself thrust from the obscurity at his Gloucester priory into the prominent, but delicate role of confessor to the ex-king at Berkeley Castle.

The lives of the two men intertwine against a narrative based on the latest theories concerning Edward's ultimate fate. The tale is painted in the vivid colours of a medieval bestiary, and recalls the work of Borges.

FIRST SENTENCE {PART ONE: HEREFORD. CHAPTER 1}: See My Thoughts.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {88}: Many times he would long for the peacefulness of mealtimes at Blackfriars, where - in accordance with the Order's rule - the only sounds to be heard had been those of knives on trenchers, and of holy texts being read aloud to divert attention from the sensual pleasure of food and drink.

SOURCE: Received for review from the author.

READ FOR: Not applicable.

MY THOUGHTS: 'Under Hereford's old Wye Bridge, at the southern end where the town privies discharged to the fast flowing current, ordure had spattered on the wooden stanchions, decade by decade, so that now they were festooned with a thick excrement, bearded about with lank weeds and thriving colonies of furry mould' ....

And so begins this gem of a historical novel.

Wonderfully descriptive. At times graphically so - I admit to being fascinated by the blow by blow account of a 'hanging, drawing and quartering', my stomach turning the whole time.

From Hereford to Gloucester to Berkeley to Corfe ... and beyond ... we learn of the fate of a king fallen from grace and the Dominican friar whose role it is to hear his confession whilst at the same time making sure he is safe in the hands of those who imprison him.

It is this, the relationship, the narrative between (Ex) King Edward II (now known as Sir Edward of Caernarvon) and Brother Stephen, that made the book for me.

With large portions given over to the two men, Brother Stephen in his role as confessor. Or is he? In no doubt that he is to see Edward as the enemy, it is never the less he who seems to pour out his heart as the author skillfully takes us into the mind of each of the men.

Deeply impressed with To Catch The Conscience Of The King, Martin White is certainly a name I shall be keeping a look out for.


9 comments:

Kelly said...

Loved this review, Tracy, and it sounds right up my alley! I do believe it's one for my wish list.

Elizabeth said...

Very nice review, Tracy.

I enjoy historical fiction.

Thanks for sharing.

Elizabeth
Silver's Reviews
My Blog

Barbara Fisher said...

This sounds like a riveting read, thanks for telling us about it.
Not sure how I feel about the hanging, drawing and quartering though!

Melliane said...

it sounds different. I didn"t know about it

Suko said...

Tracy,

Wonderful review! This sounds like a thoroughly entertaining book.

Brian Joseph said...

Great review of this book Tracy.

this was such an interesting time. I actually want to read more non - fiction about it.

This sounds very good, but as you allude to, the graphic descriptions may be a bit disturbing.

nightwingsraven said...

Tracy,
After reading your enthusiastic
and excellent review, I have added
this book to my list. As it sounds
like a book which I would appreciate
very much.
Raven

frayed at the edge said...

I'm not familiar with this period in history, so you have piqued my interest.

DMS said...

I love a good historical fiction book and especially seem to enjoy them during this time period. I loved that you called this a gem and I look forward to checking this one out. Definitely need to add it to my list! :)
~Jess