In 1303, the Old Man of the Mountain is sprawled on his couch in his impregnable fortress in the sand-swept Valley of the Assassins, remembering when he nearly killed Edward of England almost thirty years before. The Old Man of the Mountain never forgets his prey, and so comes now to a decision to set free the leper knight, imprisoned deep in the bowels of his stronghold, to avenge old grievances. One windswept evening in March, a few months later, two nuns are hurrying to their mother house in York. The good sisters are discussing the evil times and the presence of Satan in the affairs of men when their guide alerts them to a glow further down the trackway and the sickly sweet odour of burning human flesh. The sisters hasten on and, rounding the corner, they begin to scream in horror at the macabre sight of a man being hungrily consumed by a roaring fire. The grisly death of this stranger not only disturbs the good sisters but also Edward I of England as he arrives in York for secret negotiations with the leaders of the military Order of the Temple. His unease deepens for, as he enters the city from the manor of Framlingham, a would-be regicide attempts to murder him with a crossbow bolt. The assassin, wearing the livery of the Templar Order, is found in a nearby garret, where a mysterious fire has engulfed him. Edward immediately orders his Keeper of the Secret Seal, Sir Hugh Corbett, to investigate these mystifying events. Against the vivid tapestry of one of England's greatest cities, Corbett and his men, Ranulf and Maltote, struggle to resolve the mysteries, pitting their wits not only against shadowy adversaries, but also the secret, and sometimes sinister, influence of the Templars.
Classic Crime Fiction
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