355 pages. Map of Plantagenet England, historical notes.
My last feelings, just before the hands seized me, were of my cold limbs...
Thus begins The Canterbury Papers, describing the kidnapping of French princess Alais from Becket's altar, while on a secret mission for Eleanor of Aquitaine. The novel then flashes back to the beginning of the mission, slowly revealing the primary mystery of Eleanor's lost papers and how they might affect the current ruler of England, and the secondary mystery of how a beautiful French princess once betrothed to Richard the Lion-Hearted has become a cynical, bitter fixture of the French court.
The novel is a bit of a romp through medieval history, with lost papers, secret identities, appearances by notable personalities, stolen treasures, hidden passageways, and the shadowy involvement of the Knights Templar.
Throughout all of it, Alais remains a unique character, tormented by a complicated past, unsure of her future.
The plot has been remarkably crafted so that the two mysteries intertwine, so that as Alais gradually reveals to the reader the truth of her past, the revelations perfectly intersect with the twists of the kidnapping plot.
Wargamers may be disappointed that all of the "war action" takes place only in distant recollection, but will be inspired by the characters and plot to plan their own medieval wargaming campaigns.
Reviewed by Editor in Chief Bill .