Sentence: It is a wood-paneled room of sumptuous
size-the abbots of Perton have always done themselves well.
England was engulfed in civil war between King Stephen and
his cousin, the Empress Matilda over who would wear the crown.
It is 1180 and a dying abbot has one last important task to
accomplish. He summons a young scribe in order to document
a much more personal story set during that backdrop and occurring
during a long, brutal siege winter.
While readers were broken hearted by the death of Ariana Franklin
and the incredible cliffhanger left in her last book in the
"Mistress of the Art of Death" series, this does
not resolve that series. However, both for those, and for
new readers, you are in for such a treat. This book was begun
by Ms. Franklin (aka Diana Norman) prior to her death, and
has been completed by her daughter, Samantha Norman. While
that is wonderful in itself, what is truly remarkable is that
the fusion is absolutely seamless. There is no awkward transition
between the two authors; it is all one voice.
For us readers, the story begins with the history given, the
stage set, the players assembled and the curtain drawn on
what, from the very start, we know will be a wonderful tale.
The narrative is fascinating and, periodically through the
story, moves the tale forward while providing historical context.
The story provides wonderful details of castle life, and what
it takes to run and defend a castle during this period.
What a wonderful assembly of characters. Each leaps off the
page into full life and touches our emotions. Gwilherm de
Vannes, a mercenary soldier, and his conversations with God
are a true delight
"And what now, Lord? Eh? How
can I protect her from herself?" "That's a tricky
one, Gwil. That's the question. Even I can't help you there
I'm afraid." Young Pen, whom he rescues, is a survivor
who learns to cope with events in her own way. Maud, forced
into marriage and now finds herself having to defend her castle
with the help of Sir Rollo, commander of her troops and protect
her son, William. There is a mystery to the story, and a villain
which is as evil as a villain can be. This is the time of
the Plantagenets, and the history is important, but the story
is very much a human story.
One really doesn't want to say too much for fear of spoiling
what is an absolutely wonderful read. It is a story one would
love to see brought to the screen, but only if it included
every single page filmed exactly as it is on the page.
The Siege Winter is exciting, stirring, filled of tension
and can bring one to tears but has a conclusion which makes
one smile and touches the heart. Do you know how hard it is
to write review notes when one is crying? It is a story which
stays with you long after the last page. At the bottom of
my review notes, I wrote Ex+++++++. Were it possible to rate
a book 10 out of 5 stars, this would be it. I loved every
page; every word. It doesn't get better than that. However,
the best news is that this may only be the first in a series.