cover image A Friar's Bloodfeud

A Friar's Bloodfeud

Michael Jecks. Headline, $24.95 (403pp) ISBN 978-0-7553-2299-2

Despite myriad characters and rapid, often cumbersome scene changes, Jecks's 17th medieval historical (after 2005's The Butcher of St. Peters's) paints a vivid and bloody panorama of Edward II's ""war-scarred kingdom."" In 1324, rival landowners battle for property and power, and Keeper of the King's Peace Sir Baldwin de Furnshill is reluctantly drawn into the conflict when the family of his neighbor, Hugh, a humble moorland shepherd, is found butchered and burned by unknown assailants. This tragedy follows the rape and torture of Lady Lucy of Meeth and her servant, leading Baldwin to suspect the involvement of ruthless Hugh Despenser (an ally of the king) and his fearsome steward, Sir Geoffrey Servington. Opposing this land-grab by Edward's surrogates is a third Hugh, Lord Hugh de Courtenay, also with powerful allies in knights Sir Odo de Bordeaux and Sir John Sully. Nervously observing all this carnage is shadowy renegade Friar Humphrey, who's ostensibly caring for an elderly priest, but is caught in a dilemma of his own making. Despite multiple subplots, Baldwin's perseverance leads to a just resolution.