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


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?”

Book Review: The Leper of Saint Giles by Ellis Peters (Five Stars)

Book Review: The Leper of Saint Giles by Ellis Peters

Five Stars

“Such as he live with a humility that transcends all possibility of humiliation.”

One of the best of the twenty volume corpus. Ellis Peters has found her pace and strides boldly forward.

“The trouble with things so obviously suspect, after all, is that they may indeed be true.”

These are tales of murder and romance in medieval England. That you get a practical history lesson along the way is a bonus.

“A comely person is no warrant to a comely spirit.”

Formulaic? I suppose, but if there’s a formula it’s that it’s never easy for anyone, least of all for Continue reading

Book Review: Saint Peter’s Fair by Ellis Peters (Five Stars)

Book Review: Saint Peter’s Fair by Ellis Peters

Five Stars

“The manifold gifts of God are those to be delighted in, to fall short of joy would be ingratitude.”

Better with each reading. I discovered Cadfael twenty years ago. I have read each book at least twice since as well as watched all thirteen ITV episodes. Though they have some merit, the latter turned the originals inside out.

“It’s no blame to men if they try to put into their own artifacts all the colors and shapes God put into his.”

Saint Peter’s Fair is a murder mystery, but it is also an immersion in medieval culture and history, a reflection on the world and man’s place in it, and a romance. Peters weaves all her threads into a fascinating tapestry simultaneously fun and informative.

“Penitence is in the heart, not in the word spoken.”

Earlier readings left me with the impression that Cadfael was a twentieth century man in medieval monk’s robes, but he is thoroughly a reflection of his time, though he rises above the stereotypes.

“What you see is only a broken part of a perfect whole.”