Gillian Bradshaw, Author . Forge $24.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-312-87332-5

Bradshaw's refreshingly candid jaunt into the age of chivalry blends knightly honor and maidenly forbearance with fairy-tale overtones while revealing the uglier side of the feudal system. Strong research and a brisk writing style yield a fascinating primer on this European era, giving a glimpse into the routine activities of nobles and peasants alike. Marie Penthièvre de Chalandrey is abducted from her convent by knights of Duke Hoel of Brittany—he has his eyes on lands held by her father, who is off fighting in the Crusades. She escapes her captors and flees through dense woods where Tiarnán of Talensac saves her from rape by thieves and wins her heart, but he returns her to the knights and leaves to wed Eline of Comper. Marie later befriends Eline, who, when Tiarnán disappears and is declared dead, tells Marie that he is a monster and she is well rid of him. Eline then claims the estate and weds her true love, Alaine de Fourgères, a handsome but landless knight with no skill at running a manor. Alaine urges his cousin Tiher, a favorite knight of Hoel and suitor of Marie, to organize a hunt for a clever wolf that enters the village and evades all trackers. They corner the wolf but it licks Hoel's boot and is taken as a pet, becoming a court favorite and changing the lives of all those who come into contact with it. Bradshaw (Island of Ghosts) solidly grounds her historical fiction, but still lards it with plenty of fairy-tale excitement. Readers will have no trouble guessing the "secret" of the wolf, but that doesn't detract from the fun. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 07/30/2001
Release date: 08/01/2001
Genre: Fiction
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 978-0-312-70657-9
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-312-87595-4
Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4299-7118-8
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