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Carpe Librum

Bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.


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Historical Novel Society

The Novice's Tale by Ann Swinfen

The Novice's Tale (Oxford Medieval Mysteries) (Volume 2) - Ann Swinfen

As I said in my review of The Bookseller's Tale, I was powerless to resist the urge to move on to this second book in Ann Swinfen's Oxford Medieval Mysteries once I had finished the first. I was not disappointed.


While this novel retains the characters and setting that I grew to love in the first book, the author also added some interesting changes. Instead of solely depending on the first person point of view of Nicholas, this installment moves back and forth between him and our titular novice, Emma Thorgold. She winds up being the center of our second mystery, which this time involves some fraud and deceit rather than murder.


I was torn between adoring these two and becoming frustrated with them as they both worked toward the same end but with different strategies. My desire was to shake Emma and say, 'Just wait! Nicholas will save the day!" However, Emma is not one to wait for her knight in shining armour to save her, which may be all well because I do not believe that sweet, bookish Nicholas has a suit of armour.


The different sort of plot and storytelling made this novel no less captivating than the first. If anything, I am more invested and cheering for Nicholas' success. As the series progresses, we also get to see the characters more deeply developed and their relationships evolve. I particularly enjoyed this little moment of burgeoning friendship between Nicholas and an unexpected ally: 


"'I have reason to be grateful to you for your' - he searched for the right word.


'Interference? Nosiness into the affairs of others?'


'I was going to say your championship of those less fortunate than yourself.'"


This book left me hungry for the next. Nicholas has begun to dream of a future that he believes is out of reach, but he cannot help desiring it all the same. I cannot help but want it for him too, and will have the next book in my hands as soon as it is released.