London 1384 When a corpse turns up at his favorite tavern, Crispin begins an inquiry, but the dead man turns out to be a Knight Templar, an order thought to be extinct for 75 years, charged with protecting a certain religious relic which is now missing. Before he can even investigate, Crispin is abducted by shadowy men who are said to be the minions of the French anti-pope. Further complicating matters are two women: one from court with an enticing proposition, and another from Crispin’s past, dredging up long-forgotten emotions he would rather have left behind. And then a young cutpurse by the name of Jack Tucker has insinuated himself into Crispin’s already difficult life. The deeper Crispin probes into the murder, the more it looks like the handiwork of an old friend turned adversary. With enemies from all sides, Crispin has his hands full in more than murder.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Crispin Guest, the Tracker*
Jack Tucker, a cutpurse*
Will, a young thief*
Gilbert Langton, proprietor of the Boar’s Tusk*
Eleanor Langton, proprietress of the Boar’s Tusk*
Simon Wynchecombe, Sheriff of London
John More, Sheriff of London
Martin Kemp, Crispin’s landlord*
Gaston D’arcy, a knight*
Stephen St Albans, a knight*
Rosamunde, Lady Rothwell, his sister*
Vivienne FitzThomas, Lady Stancliff, a courtier*
Guillaume de Marcherne, a French courtier*
Sir Edwin, a knight*
Sir Parcifal, a knight*
Sir Anselm, a knight*
Rupert of Kent, an apothecary*
John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster
Richard II, King of England
Father Timothy, a priest*
*denotes fictional people
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1. Why is Crispin reluctant to keep Jack around?
2. Vivienne had her opportunity. Why did she return?
3. Did Crispin do the right thing?
4. Crispin faced several personal dilemmas in this book. How did he do as concerns Stephen? Rosamunde?
5. Discuss Crispin’s ongoing relationship with Simon Wynchecombe–or, in this case, the beginning of it.
6. The author chose to begin Crispin’s tale with his meeting Jack Tucker, feeling that his disgrace, that was covered in detail in Serpent in the Thorns, was best left offstage. Agree or disagree?
7. What is the character of Jack Tucker? How has he changed as the series progressed?
8. We move more or less directly into Veil of Lies from here. Discuss the differences in the books.
9. Is this the holy grail? What happened to Crispin?
10. How has Crispin changed from this book to Shadow of the Alchemist?