The Bleak and Empty Sea. Finished 2-19-18, 3.5/5 stars, mystery, 216 pages, pub. 2017
Book 3 in the Merlin Mysteries
When word comes to Camelot that Sir Tristram has died in Brittany of wounds suffered in a skirmish, and that his longtime mistress, La Belle Isolde, Queen of Cornwall, has subsequently died herself of a broken heart, Queen Guinevere and her trusted lady Rosemounde immediately suspect that there is more to the story of the lovers’ deaths than they are being told. It is up to Merlin and his faithful assistant, Gildas of Cornwall, to find the truth behind the myths and half-truths surrounding these untimely deaths. They take ship to Brittany to investigate, and find themselves stymied by the uncooperative attitudes of Tristram’s close friend Kaherdin, lord of the city; his sister and Tristram’s wife Isolde of the White Hands; and Brangwen, La Belle Isolde’s faithful lady-in-waiting.
The case is complicated by the facts that King Mark of Cornwall is Gildas’s own liege lord, and that Duke Hoel, Lord of Brittany, is King Arthur’s close ally and father of the lady Rosemounde, who urges Gildas to clear the name of her half-sister, Isolde of the White hands, whom gossip has implicated in Tristram’s untimely death. By the time they are finally able to uncover the truth, Gildas and Merlin have lost one companion and are in danger of losing their own lives. from Goodreads
I am not a King Arthur or his Knights of the Round Table expert but I’m a sucker for a good love story so I thought I’d check out this mystery of Tristram and Isolde. I admit that the first quarter or so of the book was a bit confusing for me since I wasn’t familiar with so many of the names and their relationships to each other, but I don’t think someone who had knowledge of the legends of the period would have any problem. But as I was prepared to skim as necessary, the story evened out and I was able to get into the mystery.
The story was solid. I loved the Merlin and squire Gildas combo as they were sent to find out the truth of these lovers’ deaths. The mystery was good and I learned a lot about the period since this series of books are written by a retired Medieval Literature professor. This was a short book packed with so many entertaining stories of the period that it made the mystery much more layered that it might have been. I ended up liking this story quite a bit.
Recommended for fans of King Arthur legends or historical mysteries.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.