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The Cross-legged Knight    by Candace Robb order for
Cross-legged Knight
by Candace Robb
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2003 (2003)

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* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

I wish I had started Candace Robb's Owen Archer series with its first episode, The Apothecary Rose. Had I read it and the next six books of the series, I would have enjoyed The Cross-legged Knight even more than I did, having met and made friends of the characters in these medieval mysteries.

The author began her story slowly and easily, putting the reader in the mood with rich descriptions of medieval life. Fascinating details of the clothing worn at that time beguiled me - sleeves worn by lacing them to the rest of the garment; girdles used as pockets; wimples and cloaks. Herbal medicines were used extensively to provide, if not cures, at least relief, from conditions that range from insomnia to infertility. They were applied to heal wounds and to relieve pain.

Without my being aware of it, though, tension grew and the story became more intense. Church politics played a big part in the motivations of the good citizens of York. The desire of an aging knight to be a spy for his country in France began a series of events that led to murder, a devastating fire, deceit and deception, forgery and embezzlement. All in all, a heavy load for Archer, an appealing man with an undying love for his wife Lucie.

Though the gratuitous murder of a young boy seemed to disappear from the story, leaving a very loose end in my mind, The Cross-legged Knight was an ultimately satisfying read. The author kept tension growing page by page until the denouement - which came as a complete surprise to me, though I realized hints had been given that I had dismissed. I shall look forward to Candace Robb's next book about Owen Archer.

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