Book Review: The Devil’s Novice by Ellis Peters (Four Stars)


Book Review: The Devil’s Novice (The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #8) by Ellis Peters

(Four Stars)

“Suspicion drapes itself round him like cobwebs on the autumn bush.”

Another excellent excursion into medieval England. Ellis’ world building is worthy the best of fantasy—simultaneously delivering verisimilitude and a sense of other.

“Cadfael … had considerable sympathy with the ardent young, who overdo everything, and take wing at a line of verse of a snatch of music.”

This chronicle explores the matter of love. Not just romantic, but familial and patriotic. What might a man or woman do for someone (or some cause) they truly love. Die for it? Kill for it? Take the blame for another?

“I never knew a postulant to pursue his novitiate with so much passion, and so little joy.”

Moderns, of course, cannot imagine a young person willing exiting life to the discipline and rule of monastic orders. Yet the reader may come to identify with the motives of at least five of these characters.

“It’s high time that you remembered you have two sons. Will you let one of them die uncomforted?”

For a change Ellis keeps the reader in the dark as long as our protagonist. Yet without Cadfael’s snooping, several grave injustices might have gone to the grave.

“But of course,” said Brother Mark, with the exalted confidence of angels and archangels, and the simplicity of children, “it is not true.”

2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Devil’s Novice by Ellis Peters (Four Stars)

  1. I just picked this up at the library – and then noticed you were reviewing it. Haven’t had that kind of synchronicity before. I love Brother Cadfael, especially the TV version, but am looking forward to this even more now.

  2. The books are much better than the TV version, especially Season Two and Three. Enjoy.

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