Thursday, December 20, 2012

ESCAPE TO THE PAST WITH: The Divine Sacrifice by Tony Hays

I don’t read a whole lot of mystery, but I do love Arthuriana. Two years ago, (I can’t believe it was that long ago!) I read Tony Hays’ The Killing Way, a political murder mystery set at King Arthur’s court. The "court" was not the typical court of Arthurian legend. It was a grittier, more brutal setting and the story was awash in political intrigue as well as the murder mystery. The hero of the story was Malgwyn, the keenly intelligent, one-armed counselor of the king who was damaged in more ways than one. I thoroughly enjoyed The Killing Way, so much so that I rushed out to buy book two in the series: The Divine Sacrifice. For no reason I can explain, that book has languished on my TBR pile.

Thanks once again to the Mount TBR challenge, I’ve rescued a must-read from that pile, which is really more of a bottomless pit.

In The Divine Sacrifice, we meet up with Malgwyn again, shortly after the goings-on of book one. Arthur has another task for his trusted counselor. He is making a trip to Glastonbury Abbey which is in the vicinity of a castle held by Lord Lauhiir. Arthur has some arguing (over taxes and church construction) to do with the abbot and he has even more unpleasant business with Lauhiir. The young lord is supposed to be strengthening the castle as an outpost for Arthur, but everyone knows that Lauhiir is not truly a supporter of Arthur’s kingship. So, Malgwyn is supposed to help check up on things.

While they are on their short journey, Malgwyn learns two unpleasant facts. One: Saint Patrick will be arriving at the abbey at the same time. This highly esteemed man of the church has come to root out a heresy that has supposedly infected the abbey and its surroundings. Two: an elderly monk has been murdered.

Malgwyn shifts to detective mode as he is asked to solve the mystery of the monk’s death. Naturally, there is more to it than a simple murder. Malgwyn finds layer upon layer of deceit, involving not only the abbot, but also Saint Patrick and another newly-arrived elderly monk in Glastonbury. How are all the lies related? And there are worse things afoot than the murdering of monks. Lauhiir has been up to something. He was involved somehow with the dead man. What is being hidden? And how will it affect the kingdom of the lord King Arthur?

Once again, Tony Hays has woven a tale of political intrigue around a murder mystery. This book also brings in religious debate and a dash of romance (a tiny dash- Malgwyn is still working his way around to that.) As in The Killing Way, familiar Arthurian names ground the story, but this is not a tale of King Arthur. The king stays well in the background. This is Malgwyn’s story all the way. If you enjoy a good detective story with twists and turns to keep you guessing throughout, Tony Hays’ series will keep you entertained. (You can probably read The Divine Sacrifice without having read The Killing Way, but I recommend you start with book one.)

And now, I’ve completed the Mount TBR challenge hosted by My Reader's Block, which means I’ve made it through all my 2012 challenges. Hooray!

1 comment:

  1. I have many, many books sitting on my shelf that I just had to buy but that I still haven't read -- I'm glad I'm not the only person who does this :-)

    I read The Killing Way last year and thought it was pretty good. I'll have to continue with the series.