Friday, February 3, 2012

The Stolen Bride-Tony Hays

The Stolen Bride

Tony Hays

Forge, Apr 10 2012, $25.99

ISBN 9780765326294

In the Eighty-second Year from the Adventus Saxonum, King Arthur assigns his angry adviser Malgwyn ap Cuneglas to investigate a village massacre on the lands of Lord Doged. Though over three years have passed, Malgwyn thinks back to when he found his wife dead along with others. Raging at Arthur Malgwyn left his surviving infant with his brother as he turned from farmer to violent warrior.

At the eerie sight, Malgwyn pulls a Saxon arrow out of the body of a woman; he recognizes the arrow as identical to that which killed his beloved spouse. Malgwyn informs his liege it looks like the Saxons, but insists something is not quite right. When Doged is murdered with no heir, the High King of All Britannia claims he needs swift justice for the victim’s family and survivors of the massacre as he knows his throne is shaky. He directs Malgwyn to investigate the homicide first as that has greater potential trouble for Arthur before he looks into the mass murders.

The latest Arthurian Mystery (see The Divine Sacrifice and The Beloved Dead) is a great whodunit tarring a bitter counselor who does not try to conceal his ire at the monarch. Arthur is not the romantic Camelot figure, but instead a pragmatic ruler trying to keep his throne; Malgwyn understands this and plans to find out why the king seems obsessed with this minor land. Fast-paced even with the protagonist’s haunting brief flashbacks, medieval mystery fans will relish this strong entry in one of the best period pieces as the political, military and economics of the era comes alive while Malgwyn investigates the homicide of the lord and the seemingly senseless slaughter of the villagers.

Harriet Klausner

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