First Sentence: There was a light frost over the landscape when Mara, Brehon of the Burren, set out from that kingdom to spend the Christmas of 1519 at the King’s court.
The Christmas celebration and 20th anniversary of King Turlough Donn’s reign over the three kingdoms of Thomond, Corcomroe and Burran are interrupted by the murder of The Brehon of Turlough. Mara, the King’s wife and overseer of the law, must determine the murderer. An attack on the castle, sabotage on the Turlough’s cannon, and the enemy’s deadly trebuchet and guns may completely overshadow bringing a killer to justice.
A wonderfully descriptive opening provides a very picturesque sense of place while also informing us of Mara and her backstory. It’s wonderful to have a protagonist who is not only a woman, but one of power and respected by men. However, there is nothing strident about the character as her power is based on the actual laws of place and time.
Mara is an interesting, fully-developed character about whom you come to care. Her relationship with King Turlough is one to be envied. Some of the young people are particularly enjoyable.
Each chapter begins with information what explains Brehon law and society. One fact I found particularly fascinating was that there was a law pertaining to satire…”The law regards satire as a very severe attack on a persona because it strikes and cuts a log n-enech (literally the ‘price of his face’-but meaning the ‘honor price.) Anything that causes a person to lose face, injures that person and recompense has to be paid.” There is nothing better than to be entertained and educated at the same time.
The plot is interesting and includes a good red herring, a dramatic and suspenseful battle scene and a look at the price of battle.
“Verdict of the Court” is well done. It’s a fascinating look at different system of law and society.
VERDICT OF THE COURT (Hist Mys-Mara-Burren (Ireland)-1519) – VG
Severn House, 2014