The Prophecy of Death

The Prophecy of Death by Michael Jecks. The author of this long-running series has attempted to breathe new life into the books by bringing his main characters, Sir Baldwin de Furnshill and his friend Bailiff Simon Puttock, closer to the intrigues surrounding the royal throne. The English King Edward II is a weak ruler, corrupted by his lover, Sir Hugh le Despenser and estranged from his wife, Queen Isabella, sister to the French King Charles IV. Although this change in setting from the wilds of Devon to the political mazes at Winchester has created new opportunities for storylines, Baldwin’s relatively low status among the nobles and his self-proclaimed discomfort in their presence has weakened his ability as the lead actor in the story. Instead, much more time is spent describing the actions of the king, his advisors and his adversaries and the mysteries Baldwin and Simon are investigating become secondary plotlines as the books tilt more towards historical fiction.

In the current tale, a precious vial of anointing oil has been stolen from Christ Church Priory in Canterbury and all the major players see its recovery as a way of obtaining influence with the king. Baldwin and Simon are asked to investigate the theft and the related murders and threatened with dire consequences if they fail. Jecks introduces young Edward of Windsor, the Earl of Chester and first-born son of King Edward II, as another principal player in the country’s power games. Despite being not yet a teenager at the time of the story, he displays intelligence, cunning and ruthlessness one would expect of a much older man.

Readers interested in well-written stories taking place during a time of great turmoil, deceptions and revenge will enjoy Jecks’ work, but long-time fans of the series may be wondering if it’s time for Baldwin to fulfill his desire for a quiet retirement on his small country estate with his family.

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