The Serpent's Tale

The Serpent's Tale

Book - 2008
Average Rating:
Rate this:
King Henry II's mistress, Rosamund, has been poisoned, and Adelia Aguilar, the intriguing forensics expert first introduced in Mistress of the Art of Death, once again is charged by King Henry to find the murderer. But there is more at stake than the identity of a killer: Civil war threatens to ravage an already war-sick England as Henry's Queen Eleanor rallies troops to depose him. Adelia, now the mother of an infant daughter, is reunited with her lover, Rowley Picot, Henry's loyal bishop. As more savage killings ensue, Adelia works feverishly to save innocents and protect the peace.
Publisher: Toronto : Penguin Canada, 2008.
ISBN: 9780143052845
Characteristics: 371 p. ;,23 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Oct 21, 2018

I enjoyed this book. I will read others in this series.

Jun 25, 2018

A good thing to read in a heat wave, since the setting is winter on the Thames when they really had a winter.

ArapahoeCynthiaK Oct 14, 2016

Loved this historical fiction mystery series which features sleuth Adelia!

Jun 12, 2016

This is a really enjoyable historical fiction series about a medieval doctor solving various crimes under duress from Henry II. The characters are appealing and the description of medieval England fantastic

Apr 03, 2015

E-book or large print would be nice.

Apr 03, 2015

Ariana Franklin is one of my favorite historical fiction/mystery writers, so given that I devoured her first in this series (Mistress of the Art of Death), I was really looking forward to diving into The Serpent's Tale. And I was not disappointed!

Like a good CSI show, this book keeps you guessing about the guilty party until the end. Even when Adelia figures it out, she doesn't say it (thus letting us readers in) until it's necessary. But beyond the deeper double-mystery driving the plot, there's a delightful attention to detail with the historical fiction side of things. Adelia Aguilar is an exceptional woman- trained at the School of Medicine in Salerno (which did admit female students!) and working in England, she's more analytical and calculating than almost everyone around her. By modern standards, she's an amazing woman. By period standards, she's frightening. But the struggles she must endure, and the broader strokes of church and state power struggles, attitudes toward women, classism, etc. are all beautifully woven into the story, providing an accurate (but not distracting) environment.

In short, I loved it. It was an excellent follow-up to her first novel, and I'm about to dive into the third one (which I think, sadly, is the last Adelia novel). I highly recommend it to fans of Ariana Franklin and the first book. However, if you haven't read the first you can still pick up the second without being lost- there's good exposition in there. If you like medieval historical fiction, strong (intelligent) female characters, good murder mysteries, rural England of the past, political power struggles, the discovery of scientific processes, and good should definitely pick this one up.

Dec 22, 2014

Very engaging tale of forensic detective work in medieval England, with Franklin's lively proto-feminist protagonist. This second book in the series gives us the political turmoil of the reign of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, and an especially disgusting decomposing body.

Sep 04, 2012

does anyone know if there is the possibility of post mortum publication of somethingthat might have been in the works or if the publisher has contracted a writer to continue the series????

Aug 23, 2011

The Mistress in the Art of Death series of four books are really quite good. However, be warned that the author died suddenly after writing the fourth one, therefore we will never know the end of the saga. A great loss.

Feb 06, 2011

Love this series!

Medieval mystery with a wonderful heroine, feeling of being present during the era of the crusaders, and historical facts mixed in with the fiction.

View All Comments

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Related Authors


Subject Headings


Find it at Library

To Top