"This is a novel of classic good versus evil with no doubt at all left as to which is which."
the third Meonbridge Chronicle
"How can you uphold a lie when you know it might destroy your family? It is 1356, seven years since the Black Death ravaged Meonbridge, turning society upside down. Margaret, Lady de Bohun, is horrified when her husband lies about their grandson Dickon's entitlement to inherit Meonbridge. She knows that Richard lied for the very best of reasons - to safeguard his family and its future - but lying is a sin. Yet she has no option but to maintain her husband's falsehood... Margaret's companion, Matilda Fletcher, decides that the truth about young Dickon's birth really must be told, if only to Thorkell Boune, the man she's set her heart on winning. But Matilda's "honesty" serves only her own interests, and she's oblivious to the potential for disaster. For Thorkell won't scruple to pursue exactly what he wants, by whatever means are necessary, no matter who or what gets in his way..."
The de Bohun estates hang in the balance as Richard de Bohun has no heir of his line when his son (of dubious moral character) is murdered. The official heir is a man by the name of Morys Boune, a distant cousin who is more criminal than lord and no one in Meonbridge wants him and his equally distasteful sons to inherit. But what to do? Promote the illegitimate grandson to legitimacy, by claiming his mother was the long dead wife of the deceased son. But too many people know it for a lie and it is only a matter of time before it is discovered.
This is a novel of classic good versus evil with no doubt at all left as to which is which. The Bounes are so shockingly dreadful that although their portrayal dips into caricature, it doesn’t really matter. Lady de Bohun is rather prematurely old, one needs to be reminded she’s supposed to be mid-forties because her rendition reads more like someone older. Yes, it was a different time, but the king was still personally engaging in battle at the same age.
I do question the finer points of historical detail for the period which I feel goes slightly awry in a couple of places regarding land tenure and the judicial system, but this is a nit-pick as the author's exuberant style of writing lends an unexpected air of authenticity to the entire tale.
Possibly, the pace and plot of the novel is a little ponderous, with a lot of words and hand-wringing from the characters, but, taken as interesting fiction for the portrayal of the fourteenth century, this is a pleasing read, doubly so as this often neglected era deserves more exposure as far as enjoyable fiction is concerned.
© Nicky Galliers