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Oxford Medieval Mysteries Books In Order

Publication Order of Oxford Medieval Mysteries Books

The Bookseller's Tale (2016) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Novice's Tale (2016) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Huntsman's Tale (2017) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Merchant's Tale (2017) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Troubadour's Tale (2018) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

The Oxford Medieval Mysteries Series is a series of novels by Ann Swinfen, the popular British historical fiction writer that lives in Scotland. The first novel in the series is “The Bookseller’s Tale” that Swinfen first published in 2016. Marking a sharp break between the modern age and the medieval world, the first novel proved an instant fan favorite, and it was not long before it spawned three more titles in the currently ongoing series. The series is different from similar historical fiction focusing on the times as rather than deal with the aristocracy, the focus is on Nicholas Elyot. Nicholas is a young bookseller forging his future after the devastation of the plague left most of the country destitute. While most of the novels theme covers the life and times of Nicholas and his friends and family, the politics of the ruling classes remain an important factor in the lives of the common man. Nonetheless, the bigger themes in the series of novels are the mysteries and romance between the lead character Nicholas and Emma Thorgold. Over the course of the series, Nicholas finds himself juggling his pursuit and subsequent love life with Emma Thorgold, while trying to solve a range of murder mysteries. The novels are fascinating tales of mysterious deaths, restlessness, and change that swept through 14th century England resulting in new ideas about rights, responsibility, and social structures that shaped modern conceptions.

Set in 1353 Oxford, the Oxford Medieval Mysteries introduce the reader to 14th century England through a cast of lovable characters and delightful story elements. The novels are set at a time of radical change brought about by the plague that has devastated the land. With so much death, the labor marketplace has been severely affected as there are very few people available for work. It is through the amateur investigations of Nicholas Elyot that we get an intimate look into life in the city of Oxford and the surrounding countryside. Swinfen goes into a lot of detail into medieval life including aspects such as book binding, printing, and binding in the first novel. Religion is a very important component in the novels as it influences the lives of many of the characters, who are very attached to the tenets of their faith. Besides the religion of the characters, the subtle romance between Emma and the lead character Nicholas makes for delightful narratives. By incorporating different themes into the novels, the author makes the Oxford Medieval Mysteries palatable to almost everyone including the ultra-Christian Reader, the mystery fiction, and the romantic suspense reader. Through Emma, the novels carry the theme of women’s empowerment alongside religious beliefs. Even though Emma refuses to consider the idea of becoming a nun, it is never in doubt that she retains her strong Christian beliefs.

Nicholas Elyot the lead character in the series is a generous, hardworking, devout, and thoughtful man who is the perfect man any woman would wish for. Working with his friend Jordain Brinkylsworth, Nicholas works a number of murder mysteries in their own soft-spoken way that proves very effective. A peaceful man, Nicholas is more attracted to the smell of parchment and ink rather than the glint of a sword blade in the sun. Apart from his family and friends, nothing gives him more joy than reading a book. The series of novels has the same recurring characters and settings though the author changes from the first person point of view to having Emma Thorgold and Nicholas alternate in telling the story. In fact, Emma is the lead character in the second novel in the series, which focuses more on the aspects of deceit and fraud as opposed to murder. The two protagonists work towards the achievement of a singular goal, but often with differing strategies, which often leads to frustration on both sides. Over the course of the series, the characters and their relationships with each other evolve and develop, making for some delicious tension amid the friendship and subtle romance between the characters. Even as Nicholas and his friend Jordain are effective sleuths, Emma will not sit by and wait for them to save the world without her. While the series of novels move from murder to deceit and fraud, all the titles in the series are similarly captivating even with the different storytelling and plot formats.

“The Bookseller’s Tale” is a well-researched tale of the everyday lives and doings of Nicholas Elyot, a 14th century bookseller. The novel is set immediately after the plague, when many of the people in medieval England were struggling to rebuild their lives, following the death of thousands from the Black Death. Nicholas has not been spared either as he lost his beautiful young wife to the deadly plague that has swept through most parts of Europe, leaving him to take care of two children. Nicholas could have become a fellow of the university where he had been a former scholar, had he not left to marry and start his book selling and printing business. In addition to printing books, Nicholas’s business also sells ink, pens, and parchment to academics and students as well as renting out cheap copies of textbooks. His life gets interesting when he discovers the body of a student he was acquainted with floating on the river. The blood on the corpse’s body suggests foul play, which immediately drives Nicholas into an investigation on who could have killed the student.

“The Novice’s Tale” is a quick fun read packed with lovable characters, interesting history, and an intriguing mystery. The setting of the novel moves away from the city of Oxford to the surrounding countryside, where Nicholas has taken his family to help bring in the harvest. The men of learning get their hands blistered and dirty, as they bring in the crop from the family farm in some of the most vivid descriptions of medieval farming. Despite the harrowing work, the sojourn into the countryside would seem to be a fine opportunity for feasting and fellowship had it not been interrupted by a murder. An arrogant upstart has taken over the leadership of the village from the local lord, who was unable to protect the village and his family from the plague. The upstart now rules with an iron fist. When the man is murdered while on a communal village hunt, the list of who could have wanted him dead could have included everyone in the village. Nicholas the bookseller and scholar finds himself at the center of anther investigation that throws up more surprises than he bargained for.

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