Book Review: Brother Cadfael’s Penance (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #20) by Ellis Peters (Five Stars)

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Book Review: Brother Cadfael’s Penance (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #20) by Ellis Peters

(Five Stars)

“We are born of the fathers we deserve, and they engender the sons they deserve. We are our own penance and theirs.”

An excellent close to the Chronicles. Pargeter ties off several threads, but leaves enough dangling to tantalize the reader, even as she probably knew she would not write further. She died the year after this volume was published.

“What would be called constant in the father would be more truly stubborn in the son.”

Many of the ensemble characters from the series are allowed their swan song; and Cadfael, sometime crusader, monastic, healer, and lately-learned father, makes one last journey of faith. Along the way, he stumbles onto a murder, of course, and scatters the seeds of much good.

“Oliver had been dearly loved. The empress never had.”

Don’t read this book unless you have read all the other Cadfael stories you plan to read. For starters, you won’t appreciate it, but mostly because events take place here which will spoil the rest of the series.

“Even a recusant may cling to the hems of grace.”

That said, this may be the best book of the lot, at least for those who have been exposed to the rest of the corpus.

“And I have needs, oh, God, how dear, and my years are dwindling to a few, and my debt is grown from a hillock to a mountain, and my heart leans to home.”

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