Book Review: The Virgin in the Ice by Ellis Peters (Four Stars)

Book Review: The Virgin in the Ice (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #6) by Ellis Peters

Four Stars

“Never go looking for disaster. Expect the best, and walk so discreetly as to invite it, and then leave all to God.”

Among the most popular of the Cadfael chronicles, this tale heralds the first appearance of Oliver de Bretagne. (You’ll have to read the book to discover his significance.)

“In a land at war with itself, you may take it as certain that order breaks down and savagery breaks out.”

By this sixth volume, Peters has reached her stride. Firmly set in the history and geography of twelfth-century England, these tales dig into the always-current dirt of humanity and find both gold and dross. Often it’s our favorite monk doing the digging.

“It would have been an insult to repent of having loved a woman like Mariam.”

Here the series takes a decidedly personal turn with the lives of Cadfael and Hugh Beringar becoming part of the warp of future tales.

“Youth destroyed for a folly. When youth should be allowed its follies on the way to maturity and sense.”

As always, there’re dead bodies–more than usual here–young lovers, pride, deceit, humility and honor. A very different culture than the one we live in now. And yet, not so different.

“Don’t arrogate to yourself God’s own role of apportioning blame and praise, even when the blame lands on your shoulders.”

A friend’s definition of a five-star novel is one you re-read regularly. Since this is my fourth reading, that seems to apply. But, while I may yet read it again (because it’s so much better than what’s being written today, it’s not monumental; just very good.

“Need you always be the one to put your hand straight into the hornet’s nest?”