cover image A Silver Mirror

A Silver Mirror

Roberta Gellis. Jove Books, $7.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-515-10135-5

Gellis ( Masques of Gold ) gamely tries to attach a sense of urgency to the political turmoil of late 13th-century England, but not even her considerable talents can achieve that herculean task. In a brief afterword, Gellis admits to introducing more historical characters than she usually does, and this choice may have reined in her imagination. The ceaseless political maneuverings of the period are a stupefying bore, and the weak English monarch is as unappealing a rallying point here as he was to so many of his subjects in 1264. Even the romance between the Alphonse d'Aix, fictional vassal of King Louis of France, and Barbara, fictional illegitimate daughter of the historical earl of Norfolk, merely plods. All sparks are extinguished by a great wet blanket of exasperatingly artificial complications. He regrets having refused her pubescent love for him; she thinks he can never love her because he rejected her when she was 13. He believes she resists his passion because she has a secret lover; she's certain he can remain attracted to her only if she is hard to satisfy. The ending ably resolves the plot but lacks the sizzle of Gellis's earlier efforts. (Nov.)