Bingo Review 3 (Summer Read):
The premise of the Heretics of De’Ath is promising: very medieval medieval monk is accused of murder during an important debate (a Conclave) concerning whether or not Christ got sand in his sandals (Hermitage swears he didn’t do it- the murder that is), a weaver of adult tapestries gets involved, an ambitious younger son of an Earl shows up at the monastery, Church officials are corrupt, the abbot might be crazy, agents of the Vatican are afoot, and the King wants things straightened out as soon as he gets back from beating up those Normans who’ve shown up near Hastings. This all sounds like a more entertaining version of Eco’s The Name of the Rose; in fact, I wonder if the author wasn’t trying to parody that very novel in the style of Monty Python.
I never did get into this one; the characters didn’t have much personality except for Wat the Weaver, the Earl’s younger son Toksvar, and the King (all side characters) and the writing just wasn’t interesting to me. The general premise was interesting, and knowing something about the time and place, I was able to appreciate some of the historical references and inside jokes. However, the pace is too slow and there are no interesting theories of the murder to keep things interesting while investigation etc. proceeds. The only actually funny bit (besides some of the inside jokes) was an extended fart joke, and even that wasn’t all that funny.
Hermitage has very little character development, and since he’s supposed to be the main character, he’s hard to listen to for very long, both for me and for several of the other characters. Wat seems to be the one who actually gets some investigating done, and he’s the one who kind of “saves” Hermitage from danger on the road to Lincoln, and decides to watch out for him a bit. Toksvar is funny in his interactions with his father and his scheming to take over his father’s estate in spite of being the younger brother- although the older brother seems decent if a bit stupid which makes Toksvar’s open contemplation of murdering his brother a little troubling. Athan and Nicodemus are clearly stereotyped Church officials, but they don’t seem to have much motive or even schemes to do anything specific.
I feel like I should have liked this more than I did, but in the end it was really hard to get into, and I kind of had to force myself to read the majority of it. This was supposed to be light travel reading, but I was actually tempted to just leave it behind. I would have too, except I’d borrowed my copy from my mother who will want it back.