The Wolves of Savernake

by Edward Marston, St. Martin’s Press 1993 – hardcover, Volume 1 of The Domesday Books
Historical mystery

This is the 34th in my series of Friday Forgotten Books

This the first of Marston’s Domesday Book series. The central fact or story of each of the books in this series is based on an actual event recorded in the Domesday Book, an historical record of the inventory which William the Conqueror commanded after his conquest of England in 1066. Because the primary wealth of the time was land ownership, land is the central issue in the books in this series. The main characters in the series, with their strengths and weaknesses, are Ralph Delchard, a Norman lord, and Gervase Bret, an intelligent and youthful Chancery clerk of Saxon origins.

It’s 1086. In Wolves of Savernake the picturesque village of Bedwyn borders Savernake Forest, which has been set aside as a hunting preserve for His Majesty with privileges allowed to a local lord. As the Domesday Tribunal arrives in the town of Bedwyn there is concern on several accounts. In the forest, a successful merchant has apparently fallen prey to a vicious attack by a wolf. But was it really a wolf, or something even more sinister? In their investigations, Ralph and Gervase uncover an all-too-human motive for murder. There are with plenty of self-righteous Normans and a host of resentful Saxons to be found here, in addition to a disquieting property dispute.

In the course of the story the reader is presented with an impossible counterfeiting in the town, a doubting novice at the abbey and a herb collecting crone who wanders the countryside. All have their parts to play in this satisfying story steeped in local lore and insights into life in eleventh-century England.

I liked this one, and this series as far as I’ve read so far, a lot. If you find one of the other books instead of this one, no problem, as it turned out these books stand alone just fine.

~  ~  ~  ~

Friday Forgotten Books series organizer Patti Abbott is on a brief hiatus.
George Kelley is filling in as host
on his blog
where you will find a complete list of today’s participating blogs, and tomorrow, the summing up.

About Rick Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
This entry was posted in Friday Forgotten Book, mystery, Review and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to The Wolves of Savernake

  1. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Good choice. Marston wrote a lot of books. When I was still selling this series was very popular. Also, I think it’s success (and that of the Cadfael series) led to a lot of other series, like the Michael Jecks books.

  2. Richard R. says:

    Jeff – I like this series and the Cadfael one the best of the historical series I’d read. The two are different, these characters have a different way of handling things than Cadfael, and Delchard an be lecherous whereas Cadfael isn’t, but they are both accurate to their times and plotted well.

  3. Your intriguing review tempts me to start looking for these books. I enjoy historical fiction as you well know.

  4. Richard says:

    I know you like the Jencks books, George, and these are different but I think they are good. I’m not sure about availability, I bought them as they came out in hardcover.

  5. Evan Lewis says:

    This sounds great. I’ve been reading Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon series, which is about Alfred the Great trying to unify the English-speaking people and kick the Danes (Vikings) out of England in the 9th Century. As Cornwell points out, the Danes were the ultimate victors, when William and the Normans (Normandy being a colony of the Vikings) took control from the Saxons.

  6. Richard says:

    I tried those Cornwell books, Evan, and found them to be a bit dreary. Grey, gloomy, I just couldn’t get into the characters either. So I read he first and stopped. He may have had more than one series, though, maybe I read a different one, I think it was about Crowner John or someone.

  7. I could use something different in my reading diet and a little historical fiction sounds good.

  8. I’m woefully ignorant of historical fiction that is centered in this time period; this looks great and I’m on my way to abebooks right now to find a copy.

  9. TagoVangeaf says:

    I added your blog to bookmarks. And i’ll read your articles more often!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s