Book Review: The Pilgrim of Hate by Ellis Peters (Four Stars)


Book Review: The Pilgrim of Hate (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #10) by Ellis Peters

(Four Stars)

“He saw no reason why he should expect to be singled out for healing, but he said that he offered his pain freely, who had nothing else to give.”

This tale draws us back into an England at war with itself. Death abounds on every hand and yet so does nobility. Cadfael finds himself at the crossroads of faith and duty. As his faith falters, that of another draws him higher.

“People are endlessly mysterious, and I am endlessly curious.”

As usual appearances deceive. Young love muddles allegiances. Cadfael finds unexpected blessing. Oliver de Bretagne appears again.

Quibble: “Henry the first’s daughter” When there is not yet a second king Henry, the first is the only. Ignore blurb; it’s misleading.

“The least of us may be an instrument of grace, though not by his own deserving.”

Dame Parteger was not a particular defender of Christianity, but she wrote her characters true to the time. All except Cadfael, of course, who is a thoroughly twentieth-century man.

“God forbid, thought Cadfael, that I should meddle there. Nothing short of a saint should knock on that door.”

Book Review: An Excellent Mystery by Ellis Peters (Five Stars)


Book Review: An Excellent Mystery by Ellis Peters

Five Stars

“A duty once assumed is a duty to the end.”

My favorite Cadfael story. All the elements familiar to Peters’ readers–death, mystery, and sleuthing set amid a historic civil war, medieval culture, Welsh borderlands, and young love; but Peters mixes the ingredients a little differently this time.

“To me he has been all the sons I shall never father.”

Peters’ best investigation of what constitutes a life well lived. A man returns from the Crusades, as had Cadfael himself, to retire from the world into the Benedictine order. This noble is also ruined of body. As he fades, those around him seek to ease his earthly and emotional burdens, including the disappearance of his espoused bride three years previous.

“His spirit outgrows his body … there is no room for it in this fragile parcel of bones.”

Murder mysteries all involve death. Or do they? Yes, someone dies here, but was someone murdered three years previous? Why? Where? How? And most important Continue reading

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

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

Four Stars

“There’s many a young man has got his hearts wish, only to curse the day he wished for it.”

Upon my fourth reading, I raise my rating one star because this story compares so well with other historical fiction. In addition to the murder mystery, this tale brings to the reader an understanding of a historical setting which borders on the mythic, an introduction to a medieval craft (in this case, making charcoal), reflections on life then and now, a love story, and the fun of a tale well told.

“He’s innocent enough, God knows, to believe that other men are as honest as he.”

Readers seeking a story grounded closer to fact than the average epic fantasy, which usually loses itself in horses that run forever, swords that never dull, clerics who call down lightning bolts and enough nihilism for a lifetime, Edith Pargeter’s series on the life and times of this former Crusader and now monastic should be welcome. That’s why I’m on my fourth reading of this series.

“Despair is a deadly sin, but worse it is mortal folly.”

Book Review: The Sanctuary Sparrow by Ellis Peters (Four Stars)

Book Review: The Sanctuary Sparrow (Cadfael #7) by Ellis Peters

Four Stars

(after fourth reading, June 2016)

“You must not attribute evil to what is natural misfortune.”

Unlike many Cadfael mysteries, this book exists in a temporal vacuum. Set in 1140, it makes no reference to its historical situation. For that reason, lovers of mystery may prefer it while lovers of historical fiction may be less enthralled.

“No man can be wise for another.”

The team of Brother Cadfael and Hugh Beringar ferret robbers and murderers, protect the innocent, and occasionally sit down to a cup of wine in the monastic’s herbarium. Several strong female characters, each with Continue reading