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The Divine Sacrifice: An Arthurian Mystery    by Tony Hays order for
Divine Sacrifice
by Tony Hays
Order:  USA  Can
Forge, 2010 (2010)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Divine Sacrifice is the second (following The Killing Way) in Tony Hays' engaging Arthurian mystery series starring one-armed Malgwyn ap Cuneglas, a relatively lowborn cousin of Arthur's paramour Guinevere.

Once a farmer, Malgwyn took up arms after his young wife Gwyneth was slaughtered by Saxons. He was highly valued by Arthur as a strategist but then lost his sword arm in battle. After Arthur saved Malgwyn's life, he tried to drink himself into oblivion. In The Killing Way, Arthur demanded Malgwyn's help to investigate the murder of his sister-in-law Eleonore. Though all the evidence pointed to Merlin, Malgwyn solved the case and foiled a plot to prevent Arthur from winning the high kingship and becoming Rigotamos. His brother was killed in the process but Malgwyn was reunited with his small daughter Mariam.

Still feeling guilty over his brother's death, Malgwyn resists his attraction to his Pictish sister-in-law Ygerne. As The Divine Sacrifice opens, he's summoned to investigate another death, this time that of an old monk (Brother Elafius) in the abbey at Ynis-Witrin (now Glastonbury). Arthur and Bedevere accompany him, Arthur having business with abbott Coroticus. Bishop Patrick has come to Ynis-Witrin to investigate rumors of the Pelagian heresy amongst the monks, in particular being whispered by newcomer Gwilym. Patrick takes a liking to Malgwyn and shares a dark secret.

Malgwyn - helped by Bedevere and an old friend, thief Llynfann - digs up more than one motive for the old monk's death. Elafius argued vehemently against the practice of Rhiannon, the lovely new leader of the women's community, of serving the divine sacrifice. He apparently advised Lord Lauhir on tin mining techniques - did he know about Lauhir's forging of coins? Of course there are more killings. And Malgwyn takes up his sword to help put down a rebellion against Arthur's rule, after which he rises in the world once more.

This is an entertaining Arthurian Mystery series, and I'm looking forward to seeing where Malgwyn's next adventure takes him - and in whose company.

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