Barry Unsworth evokes a distant past filled with deception and mystery, whose racial, tribal, and religious tensions are still with us today.
Italy in the Middle Ages. Latin and Greek, Arab and Jew live together in precarious harmony in the kingdom of Palermo. Thurstan Beauchamp, a Christian son of a Norman knight, works for Yusuf, a Muslim Arab, in the palace’s central finance office. They manage blackmail, bribes and the gathering of secret information for the king. As the peace and prosperity of the kingdom is threatened, internally and externally, Thurstan is dispatched to uncover the conspiracies brewing against his king.