Aureus by Joan Cathcart

In twelfth-century England, soldiers’ bloody corpses flew into a castle courtyard, catapulted by a trebuchet, on the order of King Henry II. The king had declared war on the Earl of Boulton, giving him the opportunity to execute a “terrific air show,” in the mocking words of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. This astonishing performance was just one of many events provoked by the discovery of a Roman treasure, the Aureus.

Political and military conflict dominated Henry’s reign. With new words and weapons, Aureus explores this violent landscape and the monumental egos that drove these struggles. Marriage betrothals, begotten by the need for war, peace and allies, were the critical glue in patching together the shifting coalitions of the Middle Ages. This practice provides the backdrop for Aureus’s budding teenage romance, interrupted by parental match-making, warfare, exile, the mighty English church and, of course, the quest for the treasure. (2022, paperback, 278 pages)

An eloquent and thoroughly engaging read from start to finish, “Aureus” by novelist Joan Cathcart is a deftly crafted, impressively original, steadily compelling, and thoroughly entertaining historical novel that is an especially recommended addition to both personal reading lists and community library Historical Fiction collections. ~ Midwest Book Review

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