In the first book about the Black Death in 1349, the author described a demesne called Develish and its liege, Sir Richard. He was a tyrant, who died from the plague. His young, educated and gentle wife, Lady Anne took over the running of the manor, and her first concern was to protect the people outside the grounds. She ordered them to come inside the gates for their safety where they were fed, taught lessons and cared for. Thaddeus, was a loyal serf who had benefitted from learning and was a deep thinker. Together they took inventories and wrote journals recording food supplies, and day to day issues. They knew the food would not last for long but didn’t know what the situation was outside the grounds.
It was decided that Thaddeus would take several young men and try to pass himself off as a Lord as he had several propositions to put forward to the Steward of Blandeforde for the benefit of all. Serf’s had no rights, and certainly would not be able to discuss and negotiate with other Lords. After many long and cold days and nights, the men come to Blandeforde where Thaddeus is instantly accused of being a traitor and is menaced by a former jealous employer of Lady Anne’s.
The Catholic Church was all powerful across the land. Especially with so much death and devastation. The Church maintains that the plague is a punishment by God for evil thoughts and deeds. Lady Anne and Thaddeus believe that it may be carried by rats and uncleanliness but have to be careful when expounding this idea, as it discounts the priest’s theories, and would make them many enemies.
There are not many people left to till the lands and sow the crops, and those who are left are weak. To begin again using better methods, education, and allowing serfs to keep back a portion of their crop to sell is the aim of lady Anne. She is much loved and for the first time her people have a voice.
There is so much depth to this story. The writing is beautifully descriptive and moves at a good pace. There is tension between those who would progress and move to a better future for all, and those who never accept change. The characters are well rounded and very credible.
We watch the young, scatty teenagers who set out with Thaddeus, develop into thoughtful and responsible young men. We also feel the longing that develops between Lady Anne and Thaddeus. He needs to prove that he is worthy of her. Many of the women who have come to the Manor House blossom with the trust and responsibility given to them. This is a fitting sequel to The Last Hours.
|Publisher||Allen and Unwin|
|Distributor||Allen and Unwin|