A powerful and atmospheric medieval thriller from a stunning new talent
England, 1235, and Brother Petroc is living a simple life as a novice monk. Struggling to keep his soul fairly clean and worrying most about resisting the local girls, he inadvertently stumbles headlong into vicious trap. Framed by a sinister Templar Knight for a brutal murder of a church official and accused of the theft of a priceless relic, he is forced to run for his life. But when his best friend Will is killed by the chasing knight, Petroc's flight becomes a quest for restitution.
Trusting his fate to an enigmatic relic-hunter and scoundrel, he must dodge the long arm of the church and somehow get to the bottom of everything that has happened to him. He must find out how his fate is entwined with that of the sacred object and get revenge on the man who wrecked his life - all the while avoiding the pitfalls and perils of love for a beautiful Greek princess...
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I had yet to come across a story set in the Middle Ages, until now. 1235 was a time in Europe which not many people know or care about except for its churches, knights and crusaders. Hence it's a huge credit to the author for bringing 13th Century to life.
Pip Vaughan-Hughes had painted such vivid pictures of medieval cities and towns that one could smell and hear them. And happening among these cities and towns was a conspiracy that caused a monk to be framed for a murder and ran for his life. Chased by a murderous Templar knight, he was offered an alternative life by Fate.
The young monk, Brother Petroc, had only known the clergy way of life: simple and uneventful. Then a Templar decided to change that, and all in the name of relics. Who would have known that relics could be so valuable in Christendom and their worth was justified only by the corruptness of the churches.
Petroc was wanted by the very people he believed to be holy and rescued by those he had known to be evil. He lost his faith in an instant and slowly found reality. This was pretty much the theme at that time and served as a prelude to the Renaissance.
All in all, this was a captivating read with vivid descriptions and realistic characters. I like the ending as it had a great twist that stopped at just the right point. 3.5 out of 5 stars; could be a 4 if it was a bit more sophisticated but it was exactly this quality that made it an easy read.