An heiress denied her inheritance, a priest on an inquisition, and the survival of Christendom is at stake. Phillipa Gregory certainly does her research and while I’ve never read one of her adult books, I found this YA to be as good as any BBC period piece. Very detailed characters, creative plots, and full descriptions of what life was like in Medieval times whether you were a nun, servant, or nobleman. Gregory’s writing is more mature than most YA books but that is due to her successful writing career for adult books and also a welcome change from dystopian or realistic fiction.
I’ve had a few students read this series and they have all returned loving it – boys and girls, so that’s impressive as well.
Luca is a priest who the monks pull out of bed one night and he is questioned. His habit of questioning, reading, and investigating has made him stand out and when he fears he will be tried for heresy, he learns he is, in fact, going on a mission for the Pope – to find the truth in tales and occurrences that seem to show the end of days is at hand. His travel mates are a servant (often the voice of reason, but more often some comic relief) Freize and priest who gets the orders and keeps record of their findings.
Next we meet Isolde, a lady whose father has just died and whose brother is about to ship her off to a nunnery. With her she takes a few belongings and her friend/servant Ishraq – a woman skilled and instructed by scholars, not a slave, but a childhood friend who Isolde’s dad brought back from travels abroad. Ishraq has powers and skills we learn throughout the book.
The men meet the ladies when they are sent to the nunnery to investigate strange stories and hallucinations of the nuns. When it appears the newly appointed Isolde and Ishraq are to blame for witchcraft, Luca must learn the truth. The story continues as the group travels to the next village assignment and come across a superstitious town who has captured a believed werewolf. Luca, and crew, are always able to find the truth, and in between these investigations for the church we learn more about our 5 travelers and see their relationships grow.
This is not historical fiction, Gregory is quickly to explain, since none of these characters are based on real people – unlike her adult books – but these are all fictional characters based on research. It’s a neat alternative if you are sort of into historical fiction or like medieval times.
Click here to see The Order of Darkness’ Website
Series continues with Stormbringers and Fool’s Gold