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The Stolen Bride    by Tony Hays order for
Stolen Bride
by Tony Hays
Order:  USA  Can
Forge, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Stolen Bride is the fourth (following The Beloved Dead) in Tony Hays' Arthurian Mystery series, set in fifth-century Britain and starring one-armed Malgwyn ap Cuneglas, lowborn cousin of Arthur's paramour Guinevere. Once a farmer, Malgwyn took up arms when his wife Gwyneth was killed by Saxons. Now he's Arthur's counselor, conscience and friend, and is regularly called upon to investigate mysteries.

This time it's murder in high places - Doged, lord of a poor territory in the far west, has been killed in his bedchamber and Mordred is about to be executed for the foul deed! Good news you think? It would be except that Mordred is a lord of the consilium and his death would throw the realm into chaos. Also, Malgwyn is pretty sure that Mordred is innocent of this particular deed.

Oddly, Malgwyn himself saw someone who looked like Doged exit the bedchamber just before the body was discovered. It seems that Doged had contacted Merlin about creating a double. And that this same ruse might have been used before at the time of Arthur's conception. The tension rises as Malgwyn follows clues while Arthur's enemies ally against him.

Before he even reached Doged's Castellum Dinas, however, Malgwyn came upon another mystery. The inhabitants of an entire village were slaughtered, except for one witness, young Daron, who reminds Malgwyn of his dead wife. He takes her under his protection, keeping her background a secret.

Of course, Malgwyn eventually solves both mysteries after following some false trails - and taking an opportunity for revenge that almost leads to his execution. Fortunately this is averted as Malgwyn and Arthur will soon be fathers - and Ygerne and Guinevere have another surprise awaiting their return. If you appreciate history, mystery and Arthurian legend you don't want to miss this series.

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