The Vault of Bones is the second book in the Brother Petroc series by Pip Vaughan-Hughes.
Summary (from back of book)
In the darkness of 13th-century Europe, the most precious treasures of the Christian world lie in a small church in the great ruined city of Constantinople: the crown of thorns, the spear that pierced Jesus’ side, the shroud bearing the imprint of Christ.
On the other side of the globe, Petroc of Auneford has left his old monastic world for London alongside the enigmatic Captain de Montalhac, purveyor of fine relics and other exotic trinkets to anyone with sufficient money and desire.
For Petroc, the trip is soon blighted by tragedy, but grief is no guard against greed. The great powers of Christendom are gathering. All covet the power of the most precious relics – and Petroc finds himself right in the eye of the storm.
But before I laid down my head I put my head out of the small window and craned to look up at the great walls of the city. A little moonlight glanced off the cut stones and sank into the gashes and wounds of siege and time. They had not kept out the robbers, these walls, and perhaps it was their penance to be reduced to a home for ivy and pigeons.
This was an interesting story, if a slow read. The pace did hamper my enjoyment of the book. If the book had been perhaps 100 pages shorter, I think I would have found it more gripping, and more of a thriller. Every place the characters stop in is accompanied by a detailed travel guide to the place as it would have looked and sounded like in the thirteen century, which on the one hand adds detail to what is going on, but also slows it down considerably.
That being said, it did have an entertaining storyline and the cast of characters were engaging. Petroc has led a colourful life of late, something his monastic life hadn’t prepared him for. The crew of the Cormaran are a diverse bunch, and their captain, Michel de Montalhac as a dealer of the finest relics, is interesting and likeable.
I hadn’t read the first book in the Brother Petroc series before reading this instalment, and I wonder if it would have allowed me to enjoy it more. And yet, there was enough in it to keep me reading to the last page, hence my rating.
I would consider reading book one, and the later books in the series.