Friday, December 2, 2011

Review of The Weaver's Inheritance by Kate Sedley

I bought The Weaver’s Inheritance some time ago, not realizing it was the eighth in Kate Sedley’s series featuring Roger the Chapman, a door-to-door peddler in fifteenth century Bristol. It wasn’t difficult to catch up on the events nor did I feel left out since I hadn’t read the first seven but it did whet my appetite to find out what I’ve missed.

In The Weaver’s Inheritance, Roger returns from a journey, selling his wares to find a man, the weaver’s son, thought to have been murdered six years previously, has returned. The old weaver is ecstatic to have his son back from the dead and accepts him into the household, no questions asked.

His daughter Alison, sister to the newly reappeared Clement, is outraged. So much so that she and her husband voice their opinions loudly to her father and are quickly written out of his will. Not about to let this impostor receive her substantial inheritance, she hires Roger to prove the man is not her brother.

By this time in the series, Roger has gained a reputation for solving mysteries, including the murder of the weaver’s son.

During his investigation, roger crosses paths on more than one occasion with Timothy Plummer, Spy-Master to the Duke of Gloucester, King Edward IV’s younger brother Richard. As with any medieval setting, there is drama in the royal household. Timothy, also aware of Roger’s abilities, tries to recruit him into Gloucester’s service. Roger wisely declines. His job may be perfectly suited to become a spy but roger isn’t ready to risk the dangers. He has a two-year old daughter Elizabeth, who is being cared for by his mother-in-law, Margaret Walker.

The mother of his late wife is eager to find a match for him and thinks she may have found one in her own young cousin Adela.

Roger takes nearly five months to sort out the sketchy clues surrounding the man claiming to be the weaver’s son. The solution is somewhat confusing, especially as Sedley ties in a seemingly unrelated crime into the mix. I had to re-read several sections when it appeared that Roger pulled the story together out of thin air. Not all Roger’s logic is easy to follow.

Still, Sedley breathes life into late fifteenth century England under Edward IV. She illustrates how the poor and lower classes struggled to survive under dire circumstances. Although similar to life in the cloister, it’s a different perspective.

The Weaver’s Inheritance is good enough to get me interested in reading the first seven novels in Kate Sedley’s series.

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