To escape a lifetime of poverty, mercenary Sir Benedict Palmer agrees to one final, lucrative job: help King Henry II’s knights seize the traitor Archbishop Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. But what begins as a clandestine arrest ends in cold-blooded murder. And when Fitzurse, the knights’ ringleader, kidnaps Theodosia, a beautiful young nun who witnessed the crime, Palmer can sit silently by no longer. For not only is Theodosia’s virtue at stake, so too is the secret she unknowingly carries—a secret he knows Fitzurse will torture out of her. Now Palmer and Theodosia are on the run, strangers from different worlds forced to rely only on each other as they race to uncover the hidden motive behind Becket’s grisly murder—and the shocking truth that could destroy a kingdom.
Thomas & Mercer | January 22, 2013 | 390 pages
Motivated by the promise of significant financial gain, Sir Benedict Palmer agrees to join a small group of knights charged with seizing Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, and delivering him to the King. Much to Palmer's dismay, the mission turns into a sinister one when Becket is gruesomely murdered and Theodosia, the young nun who witnessed the crime, kidnapped. When Palmer learns the leader of his group plans to force information out of Theodosia through torture, he takes action to save her. Working together, Benedict and Theodosia must solve the mystery behind Becket's death and the secret that Theodosia unknowingly carries, all the while staying one step ahead of the remaining group of knights, who will stop at nothing to get Theodosia back.
Although The Fifth Knight started off a little slowly, once Benedict and Theodosia escape from her kidnappers the narrative unfolds quickly. Indeed, the action in this novel is almost non-stop, which kept me eagerly turning the pages. While I found certain aspects of the plot to be implausible - Theodosia's secret, for example, as well as the uncanny ability of Benedict and Theodosia to get themselves out of tricky situations often using nothing more than their wits - I was nevertheless completely engaged in the story. Benedict and Theodosia are unlikely heroes and I enjoyed how their characters and relationship evolve over the course of the novel. The book's primary villain is truly despicable, making it very easy for the reader to root against him. I think Powell does a nice job with the novel's minor characters, many of whom play only a small part in the narrative but make a memorable impression nevertheless.
Overall, The Fifth Knight is an enjoyable read, one that is sure to appeal to fans of historical thrillers and/or readers interested in a different take on Thomas Becket's murder. I look forward to hearing more from E.M. Powell.
Note: I received a copy of this novel as part of E.M. Powell's Virtual Book Tour in exchange for a fair and honest review.
E.M. Powell and The Fifth Knight are currently on tour. Click here to view the tour schedule.
About the Author
E. M. Powell was born and raised in Ireland, a descendant of Irish revolutionary Michael Collins. At University College, Cork, she discovered a love of Anglo-Saxon and medieval English during her study of literature and geography. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Manchester Irish Writers, the Historical Novel Society, and International Thriller Writers. A reviewer for the Historical Novel Society, she lives today in Manchester, England, with her husband and daughter.
For more information please visit E.M. Powell's webpage and blog.