Morrow, Dec 2003, 24.95, 368 pp.
In 1200 though an octogenarian, the former Queen of both France and England Eleanor remains a wily influence in state affairs. Through an intermediary, Eleanor asks her former ward Princess Alais to travel from France to Canterbury Cathedral to retrieve some letters she hid there that if revealed could doom King John's reign. Though angry with Eleanor for her part in denying her the chance to marry Richard, Alais travels with escort Sir Owain of Cardwyd, a knight of King Harry.
Though Alais expected some danger, she thought overall the mission would be rather easy especially with her being sister to the King of France, Philippe. However, instead of the smooth completion of her quest, someone abducts Alais before she can accomplish the mission. Barely staying ahead of her unknown enemies, Alais joins with the Knights Templar to begin to uncover a conspiracy by powerful and evil people wanting to take over two kingdoms.
THE CANTERBURY PAPERS is a strong historical fiction mystery that enables the audience to see an era filled with treachery that makes the Democrat and Republicans parties look like choirs. The story line is loaded with action, but it is the powerful characterizations especially Alais the forgotten princess that make the plot a must read for fans of medieval tales.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner