By Viviane Moore
Orion - April 2002
ISBN 0575073276 PB
Mystery / Historical Crime
1146 Southern France and Northern Spain
Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde, MyShelf.com
Chevalier Galeran is back again for a fourth adventure - and another appendix full of mediaeval recipes. I find these novels get better and this is the best one yet, with the stilted translation less in evidence and a puzzling mystery to solve. Amid the snowy Pyrenees of Northern Spain, a small band of pilgrims wend their way from Le Puy to Santiago de Compostela for the good of their souls. Unfortunately, one of them is a sadistic killer of young men and the Chevalier has been sent to find out the identity of the culprit. As the body count rises and the weather gets worse, Galeran is faced with the awful fact that the chief suspect is his own long-lost troubadour brother Ronan.
In a few deft strokes of the pen, Moore conveys the harsh conditions of the pilgrimage, made all the more terrifying by the murders. I didn't guess it all, but this novel has more to recommend it than a gripping murder mystery. The background is awesome - sitting in an armchair reading it, I felt that I was really in the past and yes, in another country. These toiling pilgrims are a world away from modern people and the whole novel is a powerful depiction of the Age of Faith. I often complain that books are over-wordy but this one didn't seem long enough, as though the author didn't realize her main strength wasn't the story (strong though it is). The White Path is thought-provoking and compelling; I hope this means that the rest of the series will be as fine.
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