The Great King long ago ceased attempting to police the wastelands of his Border Marches, and these debatable lands fell into the hands of petty counts, retired generals, and warlords, who constructed and then abandoned many keeps ripe for plunder.
It looks like a cook's book. It is a cook's book. It is also where the cook, who happened to be a master spy, encoded all his secrets and contacts. The book has innocently fallen into your group's hands. Everyone wants it, and many are not subtle or peaceful in their attempts.