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The Huntsman Amp; 39;s Tale (Oxford Medieval Mysteries) (V Canzoncina Giuseppe

The Huntsman's Tale: A Review of the Third Book in the Oxford Medieval Mysteries Series

If you are a fan of historical fiction and crime novels, you might want to check out The Huntsman's Tale, the third book in the Oxford Medieval Mysteries series by Ann Swinfen. This book follows the adventures of Nicholas Elyot, a young bookseller and widower, and his friend Jordain Brinkylsworth, a scholar and clerk, as they solve mysteries in the turbulent world of fourteenth-century England. In this book, Nicholas and his friends are drawn into a deadly game of deception and murder when they go to help his cousin with the harvest in a nearby village. As they investigate the crime, they discover that nothing is as it seems in this twisty historical thriller that will keep you hooked until the end.

The Huntsman amp; 39;s Tale (Oxford Medieval Mysteries) (V canzoncina giuseppe


Plot summary

The story begins in late summer 1353, when Nicholas Elyot receives a letter from his cousin Robert, who owns a farm near Oxford. Robert asks Nicholas to come and help him with the harvest, as he is short-handed due to the aftermath of the Black Death. Nicholas agrees, and takes along his two children, his sister Margaret, his apprentice Alys, and his friend Jordain. They arrive at Robert's farm, where they are welcomed by his wife Joan and their son Will.

One day, Robert invites Nicholas and Jordain to join him and some other men for a deer hunt in Wychwood Forest, a royal hunting ground. Nicholas is reluctant, as he knows that hunting deer without permission is illegal and punishable by death. However, he agrees to go along, hoping to enjoy some time with his cousin and his friend. The hunt goes well at first, until they encounter a group of poachers led by Ralph Fletcher, a notorious outlaw who has been terrorizing the area. A fight ensues, and one of Robert's men shoots an arrow at Ralph. However, the arrow misses its target and hits another man instead: Hugh de Verney, a wealthy landowner who was also hunting in the forest.

Hugh dies instantly, and Ralph flees with his men. Robert and his men are shocked and terrified by what has happened. They quickly bury Hugh's body in a shallow grave and swear to keep silent about it. However, Nicholas is not convinced that Hugh's death was an accident. He notices some strange details about Hugh's appearance and behavior that make him suspect foul play. He decides to investigate further, with Jordain's help.

Nicholas soon learns that Hugh was not a popular man in his village. He was greedy, cruel, and abusive to his tenants and his wife. He had many enemies, and many motives for murder. Nicholas also discovers that Hugh was involved in a secret plot to overthrow the king and restore the deposed Edward II to the throne. As Nicholas digs deeper, he uncovers a web of lies, betrayal, and corruption that reaches far beyond the forest. He realizes that he and his friends are in grave danger, and that the truth may cost them their lives.

Analysis of the historical context

One of the strengths of this book is the vivid and realistic depiction of the historical setting. The author does a great job of recreating the atmosphere and the details of medieval life, especially in the aftermath of the Black Death. The Black Death was a devastating plague that swept across Europe in the mid-fourteenth century, killing millions of people and causing social and economic upheaval. The author shows how the plague affected different aspects of society, such as:

  • The labor shortage and the rise of wages and prices

  • The peasant revolts and the demand for more rights and freedom

  • The decline of feudalism and the emergence of a new middle class

  • The loss of faith and the rise of heresy and superstition

  • The corruption and greed of the church and the nobility

The author also explores the legal and political system of medieval England, which was based on a complex hierarchy of laws, customs, and privileges. The author shows how the system was often unfair and oppressive, especially to the poor and the powerless. The author also portrays the role of the church and the monasteries, which were powerful institutions that controlled much of the land, wealth, and education in the country. The author shows how some monks and priests were pious and charitable, while others were hypocritical and corrupt.

Evaluation of the author's style and technique

Another strength of this book is the author's style and technique, which make the story engaging and entertaining. The author uses authentic language and dialogue that reflect the time period and the characters' backgrounds. The author also creates suspense and mystery by using clues, red herrings, twists, and turns that keep the reader guessing until the end. The author also incorporates historical details and facts that enrich the story and make it more believable.

For example, here is an excerpt from chapter 10, where Nicholas visits Hugh's widow, Alice:

"I am sorry to trouble you at such a time, Mistress de Verney," I said, "but I have come on behalf of my cousin Robert Elyot. He was hunting with your husband on Monday."

She looked at me with a mixture of fear and curiosity. "What do you want?" she asked in a low voice.

"I want to know what happened to your husband," I said.

She shook her head. "I don't know anything," she said. "He went hunting on Monday morning and never came back. They found his body in the forest yesterday."

"Who found him?" I asked.

"Some men from Burford," she said. "They brought him here last night."

"Did they say how he died?" I asked.

"They said he was killed by an arrow," she said. "They said it was an accident."

"Do you believe them?" I asked.

She hesitated. Then she said, "No."

In this passage, we can see how the author uses dialogue to convey information, emotion, and tension. We can also see how the author uses historical terms such as "Mistress" and "Burford" to establish the setting.


In conclusion, The Huntsman's Tale is a twisty historical crime thriller that will keep readers hooked from start to finish. The book has a well-crafted plot, a rich historical context, and an engaging style. The book is suitable for anyone who enjoys historical fiction, crime novels, or both. The book is also part of a series that follows Nicholas Elyot and his friends as they solve mysteries in medieval Oxford. The other books in the series are:

  • The Bookseller's Tale

  • The Novice's Tale

  • The Merchant's Tale

  • The Troubadour's Tale

  • The Stonemason's Tale

I highly recommend this book and this series to anyone who loves a good story with history, mystery, and intrigue.


  • What is the order of the Oxford Medieval Mysteries series?

The order of the Oxford Medieval Mysteries series is as follows:

BookTitlePublication Date

1The Bookseller's Tale2016

2The Novice's Tale2016

3The Huntsman's Tale2017

4The Merchant's Tale2017

5The Troubadour's Tale2018

6The Stonemason's Tale2018

  • Who is Ann Swinfen and what are her other books?

Ann Swinfen was a British author who wrote historical fiction and mystery novels. She was born in 1939 and died in 2017. She had a PhD in English Literature and taught at the University of Oxford. She also founded her own publishing company, Shakenoak Press. Her other books include:

  • The Chronicles of Christoval Alvarez series, which features a young physician and spy in Elizabethan England.

  • The Fenland Series, which is set in East Anglia during the seventeenth century.

  • In Defence of Fantasy, which is a collection of essays on fantasy literature.

  • The Testament of Mariam, which is a historical novel about the sister of Jesus.

  • This Rough Ocean, which is a historical novel about the English Civil War.

  • How accurate is the portrayal of medieval Oxford in the book?

The portrayal of medieval Oxford in the book is very accurate and realistic. The author did a lot of research and used historical sources and documents to recreate the city and its people. The author also visited Oxford and its surroundings to get a sense of the place and its atmosphere. The book shows the different aspects of medieval Oxford, such as:

  • The university and its colleges, libraries, and scholars.

  • The town and its markets, shops, taverns, and crafts.

  • The river and its bridges, boats, and mills.

  • The countryside and its farms, villages, and forests.

  • The culture and its language, music, art, and religion.

  • What are some of the themes and messages of the book?

Some of the themes and messages of the book are:

  • The impact of the Black Death on society and individuals.

  • The contrast between appearance and reality.

  • The importance of friendship and loyalty.

  • The value of truth and justice.

  • The danger of power and ambition.

  • How does the book compare to other historical crime novels?

The book compares favorably to other historical crime novels. It has a similar style and structure to other books in the genre, such as those by Ellis Peters, C.J. Sansom, or Susanna Gregory. It also has a similar appeal to readers who enjoy historical fiction, crime fiction, or both. However, it also has some unique features that make it stand out from other books in the genre, such as:

  • The setting of medieval Oxford, which is not very common in historical crime novels.

  • The characters of Nicholas Elyot and Jordain Brinkylsworth, who are not professional detectives or lawyers, but ordinary people who use their intelligence and courage to solve crimes.

  • The use of authentic language and dialogue that reflect the time period and the characters' backgrounds.

  • The incorporation of historical details and facts that enrich the story and make it more believable.



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