Magdalene la Bâtarde obeys William of Ypres, her great patron, as a vassal obeys his overlord--even though William would have a laughing fit if he knew how she felt. However, when King Stephen summons his barons to a great council in Oxford, William can smell the stink of treason--and William has enemies who might spread that stink over him. He needs a safe place to talk to friends and cajole enemies, so he summons Magdalene. What could be less political and more innocent than visiting a favorite whore?
Magdalene knows she will find trouble in Oxford, but she doesn't expect that it will be murder or that the threat against William will come through the naming on one of his men, Niall Arvagh of Murcot, a killer. No one believes Niall would stab a man in the back, not even so gross and disgusting a creature as Aimery St. Cyr. But this is a special case. Did Niall kill St. Cyr because he claimed to be betrothed to the pretty heiress Loveday of Otmoor, whom Niall wanted for himself? Or as rumor claimed, did Niall kill on orders of his master, William of Ypres, for political reasons?
William bids Magdalene untangle the ugly mess, which makes her grateful that Sir Bellamy of Itchen has been ordered to attend the Council and will escort her to Oxford. Bell says he is willing to try to discover whether Niall is innocent--but can Magdalene trust him completely this time? A dangerous complication has arisen. Has Bell become so jealous of William that his sense of justice could be overwhelmed?
Fortunately, Magdalene still has friends in Oxford--whores and barmaids--who will bring her news and help her pick the strands of romance apart from the rope of treason and reweave them into a net to entangle a murderer.
About Roberta Gellis
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Published September 7, 2002
by Forge Books.
History, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Romance, Literature & Fiction.