In February of 668 A.D., Fidelma of Cashel and her companion Eadulf are about to get permanently married. As the sister to the King of Muman, Fidelma's marriage ceremony is a major event; the High King of Ireland, as well as other kings and major figures, are going to be in attendance. On the eve of the ceremony, the fanatical and much disliked Abbot Ultan is found murdered in his chamber and one of the distinguished guests, the King of Connacht, is accused of the crime. Her wedding delayed, the high born guests restless, and the murder and its aftermath threatening chaos, it's up to Fidelma to uncover the murderer - and the truth behind the murder itself - if the often tenuous peace of the land is to be maintained.
Tremayne's engrossing 17th Ancient Ireland mystery (after 2006's Master of Souls) finds series heroine Fidelma on the eve of her marriage. Political and ecclesiastical bigwigs have gathered for the ceremony. The tremendously unpopular Abbot Ult n also arrives to protest that Fidelma must uphold her long-ago religious vows by remaining celibate. Ult n soon turns up dead, and there's no shortage of suspects. Muirchertach N r, the king of Connacht, who believed his sister-in-law had been wronged by Ult n, was spotted near the crime scene. The sons of a woman Ult n beat for worshipping a pagan deity also come under suspicion. When Muirchertach N r is killed, Fidelma must determine whether the deaths were related. The solution to that riddle is so unexpected that it slightly strains credulity. Rich in historical detail, this series also reflects on many contemporary issues, including celibacy, gender and church leadership. Tremayne (pseudonym for scholar Peter Berresford Ellis) has produced another winner.