Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday Salon: Diana Norman/Ariana Franklin

Summer has arrived in Melbourne with a vengeance today. It is hot, hot, hot! So hot that just trying to come up with topics for my Sunday Salon was too hard for my overheated brain.

I actually had pretty much decided that I wasn't going to do a post but then I was on Twitter when @coffeebookchick from Coffee and a Book Chick mentioned that she had heard the news that British mystery writer Ariana Franklin had passed away last week. Ariana Franklin is the author of the medieval mystery series featuring Adelia Aguilar as a female Mistress of the Art of Death (basically a coroner).

I first started reading this author, not in her medieval crime series I mentioned above, but in her earlier straight historical fiction novels that were published under her real name Diana Norman.

Of the novels published under the name of Diana Norman I have only read her Makepeace Burke trilogy that started with A Catch of Consequence. It features a plucky young woman who rescues and then falls in love with an English Lord. She moves to England at a time when England and America are at war, and thus is an outsider, not helped by the fact that Makepeace goes into trade, further ostracising herself. What follows is a life of adventure and hard work, and the whole trilogy was an excellent read.

I had every intention of reading more of her historical novels, which are now sadly out of print, and I thought I had it all under control because my library had quite a few of them on the shelves. Unfortunately though, they have now been taken off of the library catalogue. I really think that they should have to check with me before they take books out of circulation, just in case they might be books that I want to read at some point, Many of her earlier novels are now very rare and when they do become available are very expensive but I am going to have to keep an eye out for them because I have heard that they are excellent

With the first book published under the name Ariana Franklin, there seemed to be a new and greater appreciation for Norman's, or should I say, Franklin's writing abilities, and the series was popular. Now I guess the questions are is there another book started that could bring the series to conclusion, or is that it for Adelia and Rowley and the others in a cast of unusual characters that populated 12th century England. I must confess that there are some series that I read that I am a little bit afraid that the author is going to not be able to finish the series off in the way that they intended to do so.

Here is a list of the titles published (with links to my review where applicable)

Diana Norman

Fitzempress' Law (1980)
King of the Last Days (1981)
The Morning Gift (1985)
Daughter of Lir (1988)
Pirate Queen (1991)
The Vizard Mask (1994)
Shores of Darkness (1996)
Blood Royal (1998)
A Catch of Consequence (2002)
Taking Liberties (2003)
The Sparks Fly Upward (2006)

Ariana Franklin

City of Shadows (2006)

The Mistress of the Art of Death (2007)
The Serpent's Tale (2008)aka The Death Maze
Relics of the Dead (2009) aka Grave Goods
A Murderous Procession (2010)aka The Assassin's Prayer

Diana Norman leaves behind her husband, prominent UK movie critic Barry Norman, two daughters and lots of fans.

Farewell to a favourite author.


  1. I have only read the first two of the Mistress series though I have City of Shadows on my TBR and plan to read the remaining two Mistress books - I shall now save them up though as there won't be any more. Very sad.

  2. Oh no! I hadn't heard this somehow and am sorry to hear it. I've only read Mistress of the Art of Death, but I have meant to read more of her books ever since finishing. I didn't even know that her real name was Diana Norman. I'll have to look out for those as well.

  3. I have the first Mistress book around here somewhere. So sad to hear she died--I'm sure millions of readers will miss her.

  4. I am saddened to hear this. I just read Mistress of the Art of Death a couple of months ago and really thought it was a well-written medieval mystery. I too hope the series doesn't come up short due to her death. It would be a shame for such an excellent series. Thank you for sharing about her other name...I had no idea. I will have to check out those titles. Although it is sad that she has died, she will live on in our reading of her works. My thoughts go out to her family.

  5. I have couple of her books on my tbr pile...

    Here is my Sunday Salon post!

  6. Ah, such sad news. I haven't read any of her books, but they look good.

    Here's my SUNDAY SALON

  7. I haven't heard of her before but I'll need to see if I can find some of her books. They sound like the type of books I enjoy reading.

  8. Oh no! This is so sad to hear! As you know, I just finished Mistress of the Art of Death, and am in the middle of the second one, and I loved every word. I also have both A Catch of Consequence and Taking Liberties on my shelf, and now I am more eager to read them than ever. Such sad, sad news this is.

  9. Zibilee, I really enjoyed A Catch of Consequence and Taking Liberties. I am definitely going to be trying to read through the backlist, no matter how hard they are to get.

    Amy, if you like smart well written books with a medieval setting then give her a go.

    Laurel-Rain Snow, I was definitely saddened to hear the news.

    Gautami, I hope you get to read them soon.

    Michelle, you are right. Her name will live on for a while at least thanks to her fans.

    Beth, the first mystery is really good!

    Meghan, I have heard lots of good things about her hard to find backlist titles.

    Bernadette, I actually have City of Shadows around here somewhere too. I should go and see if I can find it!

  10. It figures, one of the few series I am caught up in and there won't be anymore books. :( I am really sad. I love The Mistress of the Art of Death series!

  11. Because of you writing me earlier about Diana Norman books, I've been looking for them for ages here! so far no luck, not in our library either. I'll keep looking, sometimes they're on amazon, though I'd like to read one first! You know I love the Ariana Franklin mysteries. I'm very sad to hear of her passing. Thanks for sharing the news, because I somehow missed hearing it.