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The Sanctuary Seeker

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November, 1194 AD. Apointed by Richard the Lionheart as the first coroner for the county of Devon, Sir John de Wolfe, recently returned from the Crusades, rides out to the lonely moorland village of Widecombe to hold an inquest on an unidentified body. But on his return to Exeter, the new coroner is incensed to find that his own brother-in-law, Sheriff Richard de Revelle, i November, 1194 AD. Apointed by Richard the Lionheart as the first coroner for the county of Devon, Sir John de Wolfe, recently returned from the Crusades, rides out to the lonely moorland village of Widecombe to hold an inquest on an unidentified body. But on his return to Exeter, the new coroner is incensed to find that his own brother-in-law, Sheriff Richard de Revelle, is intent on thwarting the murder investigation, particularly when it emerges that the dead man is a Crusader, and a member of one of Devon's finest and most honourable families...


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November, 1194 AD. Apointed by Richard the Lionheart as the first coroner for the county of Devon, Sir John de Wolfe, recently returned from the Crusades, rides out to the lonely moorland village of Widecombe to hold an inquest on an unidentified body. But on his return to Exeter, the new coroner is incensed to find that his own brother-in-law, Sheriff Richard de Revelle, i November, 1194 AD. Apointed by Richard the Lionheart as the first coroner for the county of Devon, Sir John de Wolfe, recently returned from the Crusades, rides out to the lonely moorland village of Widecombe to hold an inquest on an unidentified body. But on his return to Exeter, the new coroner is incensed to find that his own brother-in-law, Sheriff Richard de Revelle, is intent on thwarting the murder investigation, particularly when it emerges that the dead man is a Crusader, and a member of one of Devon's finest and most honourable families...

30 review for The Sanctuary Seeker

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

    In 1194 in the county of Devon, England, Sir John de Wolfe has just been appointed to the new position of coroner by King Richard the Lionheart. When a body is discovered in the village of Widecombe, Sir John, is called in to solve the mystery of the death, with the help of his man Gyn and the new coroners clerk, defrocked priest Thomas, despite the maneuverings of his brother-in-law Sheriff Richard de Revelle. I am not used to reading stories where I don’t like the main character. He was such a In 1194 in the county of Devon, England, Sir John de Wolfe has just been appointed to the new position of coroner by King Richard the Lionheart. When a body is discovered in the village of Widecombe, Sir John, is called in to solve the mystery of the death, with the help of his man Gyn and the new coroners clerk, defrocked priest Thomas, despite the maneuverings of his brother-in-law Sheriff Richard de Revelle. I am not used to reading stories where I don’t like the main character. He was such a rude, abrupt, unlikeable fellow. He hates his wife and she hates him, he fights with his brother-in-law all the time and he treats his new clerk abominably. Somehow, because of all this or despite of it or I don’t know why, he makes one of the best characters I’ve read. He feels authentic to the era and time, where women weren’t always treated well and most people were not open-minded or liberal. The life was rough and short and he embodies it well. The mystery was good, the story was better and the characters were the best. Well worth the read.

  2. 4 out of 5

    LJ

    THE SANCTUARY SEEKER (Historical-England-1100s) – G Knight, Bernard – 1st of series Pocket Books, 1998- Paperback Sir John de Wolfe was appointed by Richard the Lionheart as the first coroner for the county of Devon, a role he takes very seriously. Sir John, along with his bodyguard Gyn and clerk Thomas, travels to the village of Widecombe because of an unidentified body found there. Sir John believes the murder links back to an important family and is outraged which his brother-in-law, the Sheriff THE SANCTUARY SEEKER (Historical-England-1100s) – G Knight, Bernard – 1st of series Pocket Books, 1998- Paperback Sir John de Wolfe was appointed by Richard the Lionheart as the first coroner for the county of Devon, a role he takes very seriously. Sir John, along with his bodyguard Gyn and clerk Thomas, travels to the village of Widecombe because of an unidentified body found there. Sir John believes the murder links back to an important family and is outraged which his brother-in-law, the Sheriff, arrests and subjects another man to trial by ordeal. *** Knight creates a picture of 12th century England and explaining the system of justice without bogging down the story. I found myself caught up in the characters of Sir John, his uncomfortable relationship with his wife and brother-in-law, loyal bodyguard and somewhat weak, but dogged, clerk. These are characters I should like to follow further. Happily, there are more books to this series for me to enjoy. I certainly recommend this those who like to combine their history and mystery.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    So I said his when I first read this one.. and still agree.. 5 Star Reread "I can immediately immerse myself in this period, thanks to this great author and his research. Some of my distant ancestors also worked for the Norman Kings and were in Ireland also. Crowner John is not a warm and fuzzy character but he is quite believable, as is Matilda his wife. They are well developed and the story line so far has never disappointed. This first of the series is no exception. Very enthusiastically recom So I said his when I first read this one.. and still agree.. 5 Star Reread "I can immediately immerse myself in this period, thanks to this great author and his research. Some of my distant ancestors also worked for the Norman Kings and were in Ireland also. Crowner John is not a warm and fuzzy character but he is quite believable, as is Matilda his wife. They are well developed and the story line so far has never disappointed. This first of the series is no exception. Very enthusiastically recommended for Medieval and mystery fans as well as Plantagenet buffs like myself."

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jo

    The first in the Crowner John series about a medieval coroner. It's not a fast paced thriller like some of the modern set novels but it does move along at a decent rate as we follow John's investigation into the deaths of a returning crusader and his squire. The murderer's identity was fairly easy to spot but that didn't spoil the fun of the novel.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Angie Taylor

    I basically enjoyed this book. It wasn't completely predictable and the style was readable if slightly overly introspective regarding the main character at times. There are some rather modern attitudes from a medieval coroner at times which is somewhat jarring. Thomas is somewhat unattractive as a character, rather too self-pitying for my taste but I like the coroner himself and his loyal officer, Gwyn. The ancillary characters are a pretty unprepossessing bunch with the exception of the shrewdl I basically enjoyed this book. It wasn't completely predictable and the style was readable if slightly overly introspective regarding the main character at times. There are some rather modern attitudes from a medieval coroner at times which is somewhat jarring. Thomas is somewhat unattractive as a character, rather too self-pitying for my taste but I like the coroner himself and his loyal officer, Gwyn. The ancillary characters are a pretty unprepossessing bunch with the exception of the shrewdly down-to-earth Nesta but I am still interested in reading more of their adventures. I think I might get very tired of Richard de Revelle fairly soon though unless he gets some measure of his just deserts relatively rapidly. Book two remains on my reading list but not at the top of it as yet.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Coralie

    This wasn't my favorite book. I might buy another one in this series if I found it in a thrift shop but I wouldn't go out of my way to get one. Crowner John is a coroner in England under King Richard. The job of coroner has just been created by the King as a way to bring more revenue to the crown and to keep the sheriffs a little bit more honest. Of course, the sheriff is John's brother-in-law, and there are major jurisdiction disputes between the two. A corpse is found in a stream in John's ter This wasn't my favorite book. I might buy another one in this series if I found it in a thrift shop but I wouldn't go out of my way to get one. Crowner John is a coroner in England under King Richard. The job of coroner has just been created by the King as a way to bring more revenue to the crown and to keep the sheriffs a little bit more honest. Of course, the sheriff is John's brother-in-law, and there are major jurisdiction disputes between the two. A corpse is found in a stream in John's territory, and when he goes to fulfill his coroner's duties, he gets entangled in the mystery of how the man died. I'm sure this book was well-researched, but I just wanted to choke all of the characters. Good thing it was an easy read.

  7. 4 out of 5

    G. Lawrence

    Enjoyable and particularly strong when it came to the descriptions of everyday life. I enjoyed the character of John and Gwyn, the self-pitying Thomas, and rather enjoyed Nesta, Matilda and Mary... I did feel as though some of the secondary characters were a bit vague, but there are a lot more bks in this series and I think that the author had that in mind... This bk was to introduce John really. The descriptions of the towns, villages, moors inn houses etc were things I enjoyed fulsomely, the a Enjoyable and particularly strong when it came to the descriptions of everyday life. I enjoyed the character of John and Gwyn, the self-pitying Thomas, and rather enjoyed Nesta, Matilda and Mary... I did feel as though some of the secondary characters were a bit vague, but there are a lot more bks in this series and I think that the author had that in mind... This bk was to introduce John really. The descriptions of the towns, villages, moors inn houses etc were things I enjoyed fulsomely, the author has a good eye for detail. I will be reading on in the series, as I think this enjoyable read was just the start of something which I hope will improve with each installment. I look forward to discovering all the characters in greater depth and embarking on more adventures in medieval Devon.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ali

    Having read the 8th installment first - I was really glad to be able to go back to the beginning of the series and start where I should have done before. This is an enjoyable piece of historical escapism, the characters are all larger than life, and (although it was for me the second time I had met them) they quickly become characters you want to know more of. In this story we have see several grusesome crimes around Dartmoor in 1194, with the ancient rite of sanctuary being eventually sought. Jo Having read the 8th installment first - I was really glad to be able to go back to the beginning of the series and start where I should have done before. This is an enjoyable piece of historical escapism, the characters are all larger than life, and (although it was for me the second time I had met them) they quickly become characters you want to know more of. In this story we have see several grusesome crimes around Dartmoor in 1194, with the ancient rite of sanctuary being eventually sought. John De Wolfe's brother in law the darstardly Sheriff is particularly vile in this book and makes for a great regular villan. A good series that's not too heavy weight.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jayna

    There's just something about how poorly women are portrayed that really bugs me. I'm not usually one to care about that sort of thing and actually prefer a male protagonist but there are just literally no well formed female characters and the ones that are mentioned just seem to be annoying or prostitutes. I obviously don't expect women to go sleuthing with Crowner given the time period but I just feel as though women could have been more tactfully involved in the story. Also, I'm loathe to be r There's just something about how poorly women are portrayed that really bugs me. I'm not usually one to care about that sort of thing and actually prefer a male protagonist but there are just literally no well formed female characters and the ones that are mentioned just seem to be annoying or prostitutes. I obviously don't expect women to go sleuthing with Crowner given the time period but I just feel as though women could have been more tactfully involved in the story. Also, I'm loathe to be rooting for Crowner since he just seems like a misogynistic jerk, it's always nice when the protagonist seems to have more empathy than the normal bad guy.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Deirdre

    The Crowner John mysteries pass the time enjoyably enough but Bernard Knight needs either to do his historical research more accurately (as a forensic pathologist, you'd think he'd be more respectful of accuracy) or he needs a better editor to advise him. In each of the three novels I've read so far there has been something that has grated in terms of anachronism. In Crowner's Quest, set around December 1194, he keeps referring to the New Year coming after Christmas when January 1 only became Ne The Crowner John mysteries pass the time enjoyably enough but Bernard Knight needs either to do his historical research more accurately (as a forensic pathologist, you'd think he'd be more respectful of accuracy) or he needs a better editor to advise him. In each of the three novels I've read so far there has been something that has grated in terms of anachronism. In Crowner's Quest, set around December 1194, he keeps referring to the New Year coming after Christmas when January 1 only became New Year in 1752, after England adopted the Gregorian calendar. In 1194, New Year would have fallen on March 25th. Some of the attitudes imputed to his leading character fail to ring true. In the first of the mysteries, The Sanctuary Seeker, his hero Crowner John, on witnessing a public hanging, muses whether England would in the future bring in a more civilised mode of justice. Such forward projection would have been completely alien then. Finally, after the first novel, there is simply too much backstory reiterated even at points in the story when the reader doesn't need the information. In novels which are sequenced, other authors manage this much more elegantly; in terms of modern crime novels one could mention Ian Rankin and in terms of the historical crime novel there is, of course, Lyndsey Davis. Such a disappointment. Knight's starting premise is a fertile one for development and John de Wolfe, Nesta and Gwyn are interesting enough characters (even if Richard de Revelle is straight out of Sheriff of Nottingham mythology). I'll carry on reading because the books pass the time on a wet Sunday but they could have been so much better.

  11. 5 out of 5

    southernmyst

    I felt like I was reading a history textbook with a tiny bit of plot thrown in. I really wanted to like this book - I was given the complete set as a gift. But opening it, I found the About the Author page first instead of last, which immediately gave me misgivings about the author's attitude about himself. I shrugged it off, told myself that the publisher undoubtedly decided that. Plunged into the book. And there it was: the overwhelming impression that the author wrote this to show off how much I felt like I was reading a history textbook with a tiny bit of plot thrown in. I really wanted to like this book - I was given the complete set as a gift. But opening it, I found the About the Author page first instead of last, which immediately gave me misgivings about the author's attitude about himself. I shrugged it off, told myself that the publisher undoubtedly decided that. Plunged into the book. And there it was: the overwhelming impression that the author wrote this to show off how much he knows about 12th century Britain, rather than just trying to tell us a story. It was full of clunky devices - he was especially fond of describing some scene or person in vivid detail and then saying that John turned away from this instantly, having seen it all before throughout his life. There were several other types of clunky devices, too, which don't spring to mind right now. I know he needs to worldbuild, but there truly are less clunky ways to do it. The story itself wasn't great - it didn't grab me and it was very gruesome and gory. The last 50 pages did pick up with a bit of action. It wasn't a good character study - only the main character John was 3D, though he didn't seem to grow. The rest were quite flat. Mostly, it was a vaguely interesting peek into 1193, but I wish it had been done more with the reader in mind and less with the author in mind.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Richard Stueber

    First of a series featuring Sir John de Wolfe, who was appointed by Richard the Lionheart as the first coroner for the county of Devon in November 1194. He is thwarted in his investigations by his own brother-in-law Sheriff Richard de Revelle. He spends little time with his wife Matilda and favors a tavern wench Nesta. John is backed up by his two companions Gwyn of Polruan and Thomas de Peyne. Gwyn is a huge bodyguard-cum-squire to Sir John and has been with him since 1180. The other Thomas, an First of a series featuring Sir John de Wolfe, who was appointed by Richard the Lionheart as the first coroner for the county of Devon in November 1194. He is thwarted in his investigations by his own brother-in-law Sheriff Richard de Revelle. He spends little time with his wife Matilda and favors a tavern wench Nesta. John is backed up by his two companions Gwyn of Polruan and Thomas de Peyne. Gwyn is a huge bodyguard-cum-squire to Sir John and has been with him since 1180. The other Thomas, an unfrocked priest and Sir John's coroner's clerk, is an an evil little bastard in Gwyn's eyes. A dead Crusader's corpse is found and is identified as Hugh de Bonneville, the rightful heir to his father's estate. Another Crusader's body is found and is later identified as Hugh de Bonneville's man Aelfgar. The trail leads back to Hugh de Bonneville's brother Gervaise. Was he the guilty party behind these murders? A reviewer says the novels in this series are better and much more realistic than those about Brother Cadfael which were too sanitised. There's plenty of mud in the Crowner John series.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lexie Conyngham

    This reads very much like a first book, with characters and situations over-explained and a good deal of repetition. It could have done with a better editor, not only for the repetition but also for the very many typos – nearly one a page (and they say indie books are badly edited! This is a Simon & Schuster paperback). It took me a little while to warm to the characters, and the ending was a little odd, but I enjoyed the well-researched historical background and I think the elements are there f This reads very much like a first book, with characters and situations over-explained and a good deal of repetition. It could have done with a better editor, not only for the repetition but also for the very many typos – nearly one a page (and they say indie books are badly edited! This is a Simon & Schuster paperback). It took me a little while to warm to the characters, and the ending was a little odd, but I enjoyed the well-researched historical background and I think the elements are there for building up a close, if oddly assorted, investigative team for the rest of the series. I’ll probably try another one sometime soon.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Val

    A man is found murdered on the border between two parishes and the crowner (coroner), newly appointed by Richard I on one of his brief visits to England, investigates the death. At the time an Englishman could be killed with relative impunity, but if a Norman was killed the whole parish was punished. Crowner John has to find out who the man was and which parish he died in as well as who did the killing. I enjoyed the book and thought the historical setting well depicted, but never went on to read A man is found murdered on the border between two parishes and the crowner (coroner), newly appointed by Richard I on one of his brief visits to England, investigates the death. At the time an Englishman could be killed with relative impunity, but if a Norman was killed the whole parish was punished. Crowner John has to find out who the man was and which parish he died in as well as who did the killing. I enjoyed the book and thought the historical setting well depicted, but never went on to read more books in the series.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Linda Acaster

    Excellent opening novel of a series (and far better than the prequel written much later, so don't be put off by that one). It is the historical detail that makes the novel for me. Coroners (Crowners) were new in 1194, reprised from their pre-conquest duties. 12th century crime investigation, the hue & cry, the holding of a jury (to bear witness, not sit in judgement), the claiming of Sanctuary and the rituals that followed, all with fictionalised asides as to how they operated in practice as wel Excellent opening novel of a series (and far better than the prequel written much later, so don't be put off by that one). It is the historical detail that makes the novel for me. Coroners (Crowners) were new in 1194, reprised from their pre-conquest duties. 12th century crime investigation, the hue & cry, the holding of a jury (to bear witness, not sit in judgement), the claiming of Sanctuary and the rituals that followed, all with fictionalised asides as to how they operated in practice as well as in theory, brings to light real people's lives.

  16. 4 out of 5

    James

    This is the first of the Crowner John Mystery series, and is set in 1194. It follows the trails and tribulations of the Coroner for the county of Devon – Sir John de Wolfe. The book sets up matters for later plots and set the background of the time and place. Have to say that the plot moves at a fair pace and that the group of supporting characters around Black John make the setting all the more real.

  17. 5 out of 5

    David

    Perfect book to idle away some hours reading. Quite easy to get through, in terms of plot and character. Offers two sources of interest: enough historical detail to keep anyone interested in the period engaged, and enough forensic murder-mystery tropes to keep Agatha Christie types turning the pages.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tomgirl deni

    I enjoyed this book as the first in the series. I know others have criticised the accuracy of Knights historical research, but I'm not so knowledgeable that it interferes with my enjoyment and I do like the characters. Do tend to get bored with serial books though, so will be interesting to see how far into the series I get with this.

  19. 5 out of 5

    James

    This is the first in the lengthly 'Crowner John' series. Aside from this I have read two others and am now working my way through the whole series. The books are generally on the short side and feature engrossing, straight forward murder mysteries.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    Fun read. This is a very clever approach of setting a mystery in 12th century England, sort-of a fantasy/mystery blend. The author is well-versed in forensics and medieval history, which makes the book seem very realistic. I look forward to reading the rest of the Crowner John series.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    Book was OK - my edition had quite a lot of typos and there was the irritating anachronism of a Jackrabbit (American word originating from the 19C). Very good ending, where most novels of this type just fizzle out in the last few pages this one kept going right until the last word.

  22. 4 out of 5

    John

    Good period ambiance. A fun and easy read. Fairly well written but a bit clunky in places. My only complaint is that the secondary characters were caricatures: the brother-in-law was extremely condescending and the wife was a huge nag. A bit overdone in that respect.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Monica Davis

    Solid story...descriptive, but not engaging enough to make me wonder what would come next. Well done historical perspective. This is the first book in a series. At some point I will read the second to see if the storytelling aspect improves enough to draw me in, and finish out the series.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Georgia Lengyel

    At first, I wasn't too impressed with Crowner John. He didn't seem like a very nice man, but the entered his wife and brother-in-law. No reason he is in such a bad humor. As the story progresses, you find that he believes in the law but also justice.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    A good medieval mystery, with the emphasis on the history rather than the mystery. A bit disappointed that knight felt the need for some sexual description that didn’t add to the plot or chapters significantly.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    I seem to be alone thinking this is a terrible book, with unlikable characters and ghastly clunky writing.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Erika

    great look at life in the middle ages but a bit dry

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kate Forsyth

    Historical murder mysteries with a strong emphasis on gritty realism. I enjoyed it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rhonda

    Liked this okay. Interesting premise but didn't run out and buy the next one. Must admit I got sidetracked by Nook reading.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Maureen

    I enjoyed this book and intend to continue reading books in this series. Have already read #2.

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