Much like the first Enchanter General novel, Trial by Treason includes a good bit of real history mixed into an adventure involving magic, some good and some bad. Durwin is pretty standard for an underdog hero, but he’s likeable. His new sidekick Eadig could use a little more character, and so could Louise, the love interest. Her and Durwin’s romance is thankfully not overdone, but it does seem a little rushed. The basic premise is that the moment Durwin receives his certification as a sage he is summoned on a mission for the king led by Sir Neil something or other. There is the possibility for treason at Lincoln castle, and the knight and his squire go to investigate the castle with Eadig undercover as their servant, while Durwin heads in to town to talk with the locals. It turns out that the problem involves Satanic ritual (Legion gets summoned at one point) and an attempt to assassinate King Henry.
Instead of focusing as much on some of the social dynamics of 12th century England, this novel ends up focusing more on the very tenuous co-existence of magic and Christianity, sort of. The thing is, it seems like there is less actual magic and more general investigating and reasoning things out. There are a fair few times when Durwin or someone else uses magic to try to figure something out or escape danger, but there’s less attention to how magic is done. I liked that part of the first story, when there was all the time spent with the theory of spells. Especially since Durwin teaches a couple of people his trick for getting spells to work, it was a little disappointing the language and theory wasn’t as much a factor.
The actual conspiracy ends up suggesting more potential trouble for possible future novels, and there are some not so subtle references to ‘the interesting adventure thing that happened 10 years later’ and such. It’s a good bit more emphasized that the narrator is actually a much older Durwin, which isn’t really a problem except that it gets a little old. How the new Enchanter General is named is also a little rushed, which is kinda too bad since the historical politics of the time are pretty interesting, and that would have been a good scene to add a little historical touch to.
Overall an entertaining mostly light read, and hopefully set up for some future stories, including a few more returning characters next time. It would nice to have Eadig back instead of rotating apprentices, and having more of Nicolaa, the young lady constable’s daughter who fills in when her dad gets enchanted sick would be fun to watch. Also given the mention of beginning to build a library near the means the possibility for some integration of actual book making and general book culture and trade, which is some of the more interesting but obscure parts of medieval English history.