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by Edward Marston
St. Martin's Minotaur, April 2003
288 pages
ISBN: 0312285426

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

The Owls of Gloucester is the tenth of the Domesday series by Edward Marston, set in 1086, after the survey of the landholdings in England ordered by William the Conquerer. The survey, known as the Domesday book, unveiled numerous irregularities and arguments over land. Soldier Ralph Delchard, lawyer Gervase Brett, Canon Hubert and Brother Simon are a team of Royal Commissioners who settle land disputes.

In this outing, the commissioners are in the town of Gloucester. Their main dispute involves land claimed by four people. More alarming is the situation at the monastery where Canon Hubert and Brother Simon are staying; the body of one of the monks, the rent collector Brother Nicolas, has been found murdered in the belfrey. Another monk finds a bag of newly-minted coins in Nicolas' room. Then a novice disappears, the third to do so in two years. The commissioners investigate despite the Sheriff's request that they not get involved.

Marston's Domesday series are not quite as fun as his Elizabethan Theater series. Still, it is a good series. Marston is good at depicting the time, especially the conflict between the conquering Normans and the resentful Saxons and Welsh. By this late in the series the characters are well-established but not incapable of growing. The relationship between Ralph Delchard and his Saxon wife Golde is particularly well done, as is the character of Gervase Brett. A cameo appearance by King William is interesting as well. Enjoy this recommended work.

Reviewed by Mary A. Axford, March 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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