The Wicked and the Just

First Lines: Tonight at supper, over capon and relish, my father ruined my life.

When it comes to historical fictions, I find that they fall into one of two categories: history that I am familiar with and history that I’m not.  I do very much enjoy the history that I am familiar with, like the Revolutionary War or Queen Elizabeth I, but I also enjoy learning new things from books.  This definitely falls into the latter category.  I promise you, I knew nothing about 13th century Wales before this.

Cecily is a young girl who is set to inherit what was her home until her Uncle came home from the Crusades and she had to give it back.  But now, her father wants to move to occupied Wales, away from society and any chance Cecily had of marrying.  She’s livid.  But she doesn’t have a choice.  Gwenhwyfar is a Welsh girl who wants nothing more than to have the English leave her homeland.  Once, she could have had everything.  Now she has nothing except a bratty English girl to serve.  Cecily wants to fit in; Gwenhwyfar just wants to survive.  And outside the city walls, tensions are rising…until they hit the breaking point…

Ok.  As I said, I knew nothing about 13th century Wales before this, so I didn’t know how the story was going to end.  I mean, like, when you read a story about Titanic, you know the ship is still going to sink at the end.  I had no idea what could even happen in this.  I find that thrilling.

The story itself was good, if a little slow and slightly…plotless?…at times.  No, plotless seems too strong.  It was more that we mostly follow Cecily doing her “womanly” duties around the house or in town and market day got old after a while.  It would slightly stagnate until like, the end of the chapter and the POV switched.  Oh, forgot to mention that, but you may have picked up on it.  The story switched narration between Cecily and Gwen.

As for reading the story, that probably slowed things down more than Cecily’s pettiness.  It throws in 13th century influences (obviously), and I really struggled to understand some things. I’m not exactly familiar with Medieval Christian holidays like Assumption Day and Michaelmas.  I have no idea where these fall on the calendar.  I actually looked up Michaelmas in my dictionary to figure it out.  There’s also quite a lot of Welsh names that I cannot even hope to pronounce.  Even Gwen’s name up above, I’m going, “Um…let’s go with Guinevere, shall we?  Like King Arthur’s wife.”  It was so hard to try to figure out how to read it in my head, let alone if I had had to read this out loud.  Oh, and there were words and slang that I was unfamiliar with as well.  Cecily kept saying “certes”.  It didn’t take me too long (using context clues) to figure out this was her way of saying “certainly”.

The ending is totally worth it, though.  And the things Cecily learns along the way.  There’s quite a good lesson to come out of it.  A good read, if a little hard to read.  Not exactly one of those beach reads you can just breeze through.

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