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Sword of Shame

by The Medieval Murderers (Group 2)
Narrated by Paul Matthews



      "He who lives in falsehood slays his soul; he who lies, his honour."

Sword of Shame is captivating. Every tale filled with eclectic characters - not to mention enough historical imagery to place you in the middle of it all. Itís an entertaining audio, ready to make those afternoons go by quickly - maybe too quickly. Sword of Shame is a wonderful sample for anyone wanting to give each of these authors a try. I came away completely impressed - even more so than with the first in series, The Tainted Relic (also reviewed on Myshelf.com).

Reader Paul Matthews is brilliant at presenting the work of each author, which made it doubly hard to turn the audio off between listens. I found myself anxious to get back to it and see where the sword would strike next. Below is a sample of what to expect. Enjoy.

11th century

A kind sword smith, born out of rape, creates a beautiful sword. With violence and death surrounding his family, he decides this sword will be different. A good manís intent becomes a curse to last centuries.

Act I - Exeter 1195

As in the The Tainted Relic someone close to Bernard Knightís Crowner John is suspected of murder. Gwyn of Polruan works for Crowner John. Gwyn loses his home to a fire and the landlord demands the cost. Angry words and blows are traded. Later, John buys a new sword for Gwyn. (Guess which sword...) Needless to say the landlord is found dead and the Sheriff feeds off the pleasure of arresting Johnís officer. (Oh I hate that Sheriff.) Crowner, with the help of his mistress, strives to free Gwyn and solve the case. Crowner John has that imperfect hero persona going for him. You may not always agree with his decisions, but unless youíre the bad guy, you canít help but root for him. A great listen as always.

Act II - Venice 1262

The tale opens with a man throwing a sword in the muck at the edge of Venice. Then back tracks to when Ian Morson's Nick Zuliani arrives in Venice and the time spent with his mistress and friends. Eventually, a rigged election leads to betrayal; a favor leads to murder. Passion turns to suspicion, leaving poor Nick and the infamous sword in the middle of it all. Morson pens a very colorful, very mature picture of Venice and historical politics.

Act III

The local Miller finds a body. Michael Jecks' Keeper Sir Baldwin and Bailiff Puttock are called to solve the crime. The body is identified as the servant of Sir John. The sword in question is missing and belongs to a family in turmoil. Their father, Sir Humphrey, brought the sword back from the City of Akers during the time of the Knights Templar. The sword brings even more tragedy and dredges up their ancestral curse. Baldwin and Puttock have quite a conundrum to solve here...

Poitiers France - 1356

Years later Sir Johnís son, Matthew, carries it to Poitiers France, where the Black Prince is trapped. The sword reminds Matthew he isnít a warrior...

Act IV - Ickleton, Cambridgeshire - 1357

The College owns a manor in Ickletown. Renter Sir Phillip writes to tell them he donated the rent to the local Priory. Needless to say Susanna Gregory's Matthew Bartholomew and Brother Michael are sent to collect the money greatly needed for their new latrines. Matthew and Michael come across Dame Pauline, Sister Rose, and Lord Askill, who are out hunting. They all arrive at the manor to find the renter dead - stabbed in the back with a sword - and just when the victim decided to change his Will. It looks like the members of the local Priory will get a piece of Brother Michaelís mind. And the keeper(s) of the sword will find out this "truly is a sword of shame." Suspects abound in this one.

Act V - Inckleton, 1604

It's winter and Philip Gooden's player Nick Revill arrives at the manor in answer to a request for a private performance during a wedding, come summer. Nick discovers the manor occupants make him uneasy... He becomes acquainted with the lord of the manor and his pet. When the head of the household is found dead in the courtyard, Nickís innocent face and honest mistake in surnames sets him up for murder. When offered a way out, Nick decides to stay and face his accusers with his own finale. The author puts on quite a show with this one.

Epilogue - London, 2005

An auctioneer passes the little village of Incketon on his way to an auction which includes a sword with a cursed history...

A memorable listen. An outstanding job by the Medieval Murderers. Looking forward to the next in series. Highly Recommended.

The Book

W.F. Howes / Clipper Audio
Sept 2007
Audio book / unabridged - 13 sound discs
978 1 40740 529 2
Historical Mystery
More at Amazon.com US || UK
Audio Edition
NOTE: Amazon links are to paperback editions. The audio edition is through the publisher.

The Reviewer

Brenda Weeaks
Reviewed 2008
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