First Sentence: The columns rose to impossible heights, casting irregular shadows upon the crowded nave of Westminster Abbey.
Disgraced knight, Crispin Guest, is regarded as a traitor by King Richard II. When the Stone of Destiny disappears, in a dramatic fashion, from under King Edward’s Chair, on which England’s monarch’s are crowned, Richard demands Crispin find the stone in three days, or his apprentice, Jack Tucker, will be executed.
Westerson establishes the premise, the characters, the threat and the risk, and then lets loose the story. And what a wonderful, compelling story it is. The story is truly brought to life with a combination of historical figures and vividly created fictional ones. The balance of experience-hardened Crispin and Jack Tucker, the once street thief who inveigled his way into being Crispin’s apprentice, works so well. While Crispin provides the preponderance of the action, Jack often makes us smile through his actions and dialogue—“My lady, if it pleases you to call me “Goat,” than whom am I to naysay you? “Goat” it is.”, and they both account for the story’s suspense. Yet it is the development of Crispin that provides some of the most moving scenes.
Although the character of Rykener was introduced in an early book, he has a much greater role here and provide an excellent early twist and very good dialogue—“You canna make certain that the woman you abduct is a sarding woman?”—which has a flavor of the prior but makes no attempt to be of the period. The inclusion of the Gaelic, which is, happily, translated, provides veracity to the story.
The detail and amount of historical research is apparent while never overshadowing the story, which is clearly character-driven. One sees Jack maturing, as well as Crispin coming to realize just how much Jack means to him. That Jack has adopted Crispin’s propensity for quoting Aristotle is delightful. The Lady Katherine in the story, is not the “Katherine” of Anya Seaton—a book beloved by so many--but is a more honest representation of the figure, yet still one which can be recognized—“I am surrounded by men who cannot be commanded one way or the other…”
Westerson is good at providing those moments which give us pause—“but we have a habit, does Man, of taking that which we see every day with a certain amount of disdain in its monotony. Only when there is chaos do we find it golden. Only when it is lost do we feel the loss.”
“The Silence of Stones” is a captivating, action-filled book with two mysteries solved from different sides, which also provides a lesson in honor. Westerson is one of those authors who is always a pleasure to read.
THE SILENCE OF STONES: A Crispin Guest medieval noir (Hist Myst-Crimpin/Jack Taylor-England-1338) – VG+
Westerson, Jeri – 7th in series
Severn House – Feb 2016