"The Sorcerer and the Assassin" By Stephen O’Shea: Review/Giveaway

Review by Terrance McArthur

Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book and a link to purchase it.

 France has conquered the Languedoc (Southern France) in the 1200s, but the people have their own version of Christianity that the Catholic Church doesn’t allow. Rome sends Franciscan monks to root out the heretics — the first Inquisition (the Spanish Inquisition was 250 years later) — with preaching and torture. Suddenly, the torturers are dying ... by murder ... in Stephen O’Shea’s historical mystery, The Sorcerer and the Assassin.

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Image Source Brash Books
If the Inquisitors sought revenge, the people might rise in revolt, blaming the French monarchy for the carnage. The Queen Mother (whose son, the pious Louis IX, became Saint Louis) sends for Balian of Mallorca, healer, alchemist, suspected sorcerer, raised in Islamic territories, to track down the assassin and preserve the kingdom. Along the way, he acquires the aid of Tancred, a minor noble who Balian had brought back to health, and his sister Matilda, who fought against the feudal rules by dressing in male clothing and becoming Balian’s assistant in criminology — a female Watson to this medieval Sherlock.

Many threads of life in the Dark Ages intermingle in this book. Anti-Semitism, hypocritical fanaticism, accusations of witchcraft, foul friars, stomach-turning methods of torture, all appear in the pages. Romance, sex, love that crosses the boundaries of religion, class, and culture. The mystery unfolds carefully, with suspicion cast in many directions, and a sympathetic backstory for the murderer.

O’Shea, an expert in medieval history, author of several non-fiction books on travel and on the persecution of the accused heretic Catharists, fills his first novel with actual torture methods of the Inquisition, the truth behind the rumored beliefs and practices of Catharism that fired up the Inquisitors, and the politics and smells of thirteenth-century France.

Balian and Matilda are ahead of their era. His understanding of human physiology leads him to refuse to use leeches for bleeding the sick. Her desire to prove her worth as a person propels her into the search for the priest-killer. Lovers of the Cadfael series and The Name of the Rose will find The Sorcerer and the Assassin a welcome adventure in detection, a noirish journey where the truth is often wrapped in more lies.

To enter to win a copy of The Sorcerer and the Assassin, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line "sorcerer,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen March 18, 2023. US residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win. If entering via comment please include your email address so we can contact you. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section in Kings River Life and in our mystery category here on KRL News & Reviews. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. And check out our new mystery podcast which features mystery short stories and first chapters read by local actors! A new episode went up last week.

You can use this link to purchase the book or click here. If you have adblocker on you may not be able to see the Amazon link:

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is newly retired as a Librarian in Fresno County, California. He is also a storyteller, puppeteer, magician, and maker of pine needle baskets. On top of that he writes stories that range from rhymed children's tales to splatterpunk horror. He's an odd bird, but he's nice to have around.
Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


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