Book Discussion Guide: Sword of Shadows

Please be aware that the discussion questions contain huge spoilers for the book. It is recommended to only approach these questions AFTER you have read the book.


A quest to find the ancient sword Excalibur quickly turns into a hunt for a determined killer for Crispin Guest.

London, 1396

A trip to the swordsmith shop for Crispin Guest, Tracker of London, and his apprentice Jack Tucker takes an unexpected turn when Crispin crosses paths with Carantok Teague, a Cornish treasure hunter. Carantok has a map he is convinced will lead him to the sword of Excalibur—a magnificent relic dating back to King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table—and he wants Crispin to help him find it.

Travelling to Tintagel Castle in Cornwall with Carantok and Jack, Crispin is soon reunited with an old flame as he attempts to locate the legendary sword. But does Excalibur really exist, or is he on an impossible quest? When a body is discovered, Crispin’s search for treasure suddenly turns into a hunt for a dangerous killer.

Cast of Characters

Crispin Guest, the Tracker of London*
Jack Tucker, his apprentice*
Isabel Tucker, Jack’s wife*
Crispin Tucker, Jack’s first son*
Helen Tucker, Jack’s first daughter*
Gilbert Tucker, Jack’s second son*
Carantock Teague,  a traveler*
Kat Pyke, a musician and thief*
Marzhin Gwyls, a caretaker at Tintagel
John Palliser,  a caretaker at Tintagel*
Sir Regis, Constable at Tintagel*
Peter Shipley, Porter at Tintagel*
Edward Allen, Chaplain at Tintagel*
Thomas Dunning, man-at-arms at Tintagel*
Roger Bennet, man-at-arms at Tintagel*
Arno Leverton, man-at-arms at Tintagel*
Stephen Kettle, man-at-arms at Tintagel*
Getrude, innkeeper’s wife at Treknow*
Jowan Penhall, a dairyman*
Janet Penhall, his daughter, a milkmaid*
Kenal Corneys, his servant*
Kenver Treeve, a man of Treknow*
Derwa Kest, a Goosegirl in Treknow*
Menhyr Rouse, her betrothed*
Mabyn, a weaver in Treknow*
Gwendolyn, a weaver in Treknow*
Branok Trethewey, Cornish Prasgwig village elder*
Eseld Gloyn, a Cornish woman of Prasgwig*
Jory Gloyn, her husband*
Isla, a woman in Treknow*
Austol Kellow, Brewster in Praswig*
Cador, his servant*
Clemo, a villager in Treknow*

* denotes fictional people


1. Crispin has only ventured out of London three times for his adventures; in TROUBLED BONES it was a trip to Canterbury, integral to the entire plot of the missing bones of St. Thomas Becket, and in SEASON OF BLOOD, when he and Jack take a side trip in the plot to venture to Hailes Abbey near Winchecombe to return a relic and find a killer. And, of course, this time to carry the story to Tintagel in Cormwall. How do you feel about these various ventures, or would you have prefered our hero to have remained in London for his plots?

2. Sometimes characters return to the plot whom we have met in previous books. Kat Pyke was a particular favorite of mine from SEASON OF BLOOD and I wanted to bring her back before the series was over. How did you feel about her interaction with Crispin…and the question he asked?

3. Jack Tucker is certainly coming into his own as a Tracker. Did you feel he was ready to branch out on his own?

4. How did you feel about Excalibur? Are you disappointed when the “McGuffin” isn’t a religious relic?

5. What was your feeling about the Druid settlement, a fairly pagan village in the midst of Christian Britain?

6. How do you feel about Jack’s adult character?

7. Was the mystery mystifying enough?

8. How did you feel about treasure hunting as presented?

9. The horses put Crispin and Jack on a different financial and social footing back home in London. Discuss such social issues.

10. Crispin began the series as rather sour, grim, and, frankly, drunk. With all the books behind him, how do you feel about his slow progression?