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The Clerkenwell Tales by Peter Ackroyd
The Clerkenwell Tales brings a rash of characters to life from 1399 London, some of them borrowed from The Canterbury Tales. Sister Clarice is a nun born illegimately under a Clerkenwell convent. She has mad visions, and prophesies the downfall of Richard II as well as five fires and deaths in London. An obscure religious sect then sets about bring fire and explosions to London churches while Henry Bolingbroke's sets about to depose the king. Peter Ackroyd has created a vision of 14th-century London with religous struggles, palace intrigue, secret societies, superstition running rampant, and has filled it with enough arcane knowledge and description to bring it alive on the page. The Independent says, "It is unlikely that the reader will ever have experienced such total immersion into the reek and bustle of medieval London. Ackroyd is a wonderful guide and torchbearer, bringing light to the darkest corners of humanity."