I recently finished Candace Robb’s fourth book in her Owen Archer Mystery Series entitled The King’s Bishop. As with her previous books, she does an excellent job in bringing Medieval England to life.
From the book cover:
It is 1367, and the Pope and King Edward III of England are in disagreement over pluralism, a practice that allows one man to hold many state and church offices at the same time. The Pope does not want to dilute his authority by allowing church leaders to hold government offices, which would oblige them to obey and report to King Edward. Naturally, subverting the Pope’s authority doesn’t bother King Edward at all, and he wishes to make one of the richest pluralists, William of Wykeham, the next Bishop of Winchester.
To undermine the Pope’s position, King Edward sends a mission, led by one-eyed soldier-sleuth Owen Archer, to convince the powerful abbots of Fountains and Rievaulx to support his nomination of William of Wykeham. When the mission is disrupted by murder, politics turn personal and Owen’s fourth case becomes his toughest yet: He must prove his friend Ned Townley innocent of murder.
Robb understands the political climate during Edwardian England – as the King aged, more people jockeyed for power. Robb perfectly captures the mistrust and jealousies of those at court. She interweaves court intrigue with life in greater England â€“ particularly when it comes to Owen and his wife Lucie.
Robb continues to develop the main characters in the series – primarily Owen, Lucie, and Archbishop Thoresby. It is interesting to see the change in the characters as the stories unravel in each book. For instance, Thoresby becomes more humble and less ambitious as he ages and realizes that there are more important things in life other than power.
Robb does not tie up all the loose ends of the book – she continues them in some respects. I am mainly referring to the antics of Alice Perrers (the King’s mistress) and her political jousting with Archbishop Thoresby. I don’t think this is a fault – it more accurately portrays real life.