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Brother Cadfael's Penance [Mass Market Paperback]

Ellis Peters
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 19.65 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Book Description

Feb. 1 1996 Brother Cadfael Mysteries (Book 20)
Medieval Benedictine monk Brother Cadfael leaves Shrewsbury to rescue his thirty-year-old secret son, who has been taken prisoner in the Civil War between Empress Maud and her cousin, King Stephen. Reprint. K. PW.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In Brother Cadfael's 20th chronicle, Peters deftly binds the medieval monk's new adventure with family ties, moving from issues intensely public to problems determinedly private. Olivier de Bretagne, who (unknown to himself) is Brother Cadfael's son, has been taken prisoner during England's dynastic war between two grandchildren of William the Conqueror. Cadfael is determined to find Olivier, although to do so he must leave the monastery without his abbot's "leave or... blessing." The search begins badly when, at an unsuccessful peace conference, Yves Hugonin, Olivier's hot-headed brother-in-law, picks a fight with Brien de Soulis, a commander who may know where Olivier is held-but won't say. When Brien is found murdered, Yves is abducted by one who holds him responsible for the killing, and then Cadfael has two men to find. In the process, he delicately explores puzzles related to Brien's death and to shadowy deeds in the larger political scene. While Cadfael does his usual excellent sleuthing, Peters succeeds at an equally subtle game, demonstrating how personal devotion can turn to enmity-and how such enmity can be forestalled by justice and mercy. Mystery Guild selection.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Peters's last Brother Cadfael mystery, The Holy Thief (Mysterious Pr., 1993), sold nearly a third more than its predecessor, so Peters is clearly on a roll. In his 20th outing, Brother Cadfael decides to break his monastic vows in order to save his long-lost son.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A good yarn, nice period detail Sept. 4 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The twentieth and final book in the popular series, Brother Cadfael's Penance finds the title character drawn out of his home at the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in a quest to free a young man taken prisoner in a war between the Empress Maud and her cousin, Stephen. Betrayal at the hands of Robert, one of the Empress's most trusted soldiers has landed Olivier de Bretagne in prison, where he seems destined to rot. But word of his fate reaches Brother Cadfael, who knows he must leave the Abbey and come to the aid of the young man-who is the monk's only child, sired before his vows during the time he fought in the Crusades. He must also keep Olivier's impulsive brother-in-law safe, and solve the murder of a rogue lord who supported Robert. A fascinating story on many levels, Brother Cadfael's Penance combines the best of adventure stories, mysteries, and historical fiction into one seamless, well-realized tale. Everything about the story-especially character, setting, and historical detail-rings true. Peters' knowledge of Middle Ages customs, language, and beliefs, honed through years of writing, is extensive and makes the era come alive. Cadfael, now the subject of a twentieth story, feels as familiar as family. Torn between his vows and his duty as a father, Cadfael places his son first when he decides to travel to Coventry to seek help and information. But such a decision comes at a cost to Cadfael's peace of mind. Here is where Peters' familiarity with her character becomes noticeable. Cadfael's faith is tested, as is his devotion to the way of life he has chosen. Peters makes his internal struggles seem genuine, the natural outcome of having his world turned upside down; yet he emerges from his travails stronger in both spirit and character. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars Cadfael is set to pay the price! June 19 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
...it should come as no surprise that BrotherCadfael feels he must pay penance for his, as well. And in this20th--and final--chronicle of Brother Cadfael, Ellis Peters takes us a giant step forward in her characterization of the good Benedictine monk, a man once a member of the Crusades and now wrestling against sin behind the cloth.
In "Brother Cadfael's Penance," Peters permits Cadfael to come face to face with another aspect of his life--a time before his monastic vows. It is 1145 and the great civil war rages on between King Stephen and Empress Maud. However, there is hope. A meeting between the two factions is scheduled for Coventry and Brother Cadfael secures permission from the Abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Shrewsbury to attend. Known widely for his skills in diplomacy, as well as crime solving abilities, Cadfael, however, wishes to attend for a very personal reason. He is seeking news of a young knight, Olivier de Bretagne. Olivier is Cadfael's son, from his days fighting in the Holy Land as a crusader. His holy vows aside, he feels he must do all within his power to save his son.
Peters, as always, presents Cadfael as more than human--she gives us a man for all seasons, as it were. In addition, she presents the good brother in a realistic but incredibly humane manner. He is a man whom we can love, respect, yes, even
cherish. Peters' ability to draw out these characteristics is perhaps what makes the series so fascinating. Hers is a series not to be missed. One probably should read them in the order they were written; or at least, read earlier ones before this one, as the poignancy of the meeting between father and son is so much more dramatized when the reader has the background to appreciate such a climactic episode. I cannot imagine a reader being disappointed!
(Billyjhobbs@tyler.net)
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5.0 out of 5 stars By far the best book in the Chronicles! Sept. 21 1998
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Ellis Peters did a wonderful job with the last book in the Chronicles of Brother Cadfael. Cadfael gets word that his secret son, Olivier de Breatgne, has been taken prisoner in the civil war between King Stephen and the Empress Maud, and has not been offered for ransom. Born in the far East of a Syrian mother, and choosing his unknown father's religion to join the English, Olivier does not know that Brother Cadfael is his father. By chance Cadfael met him he when looking for two missing children, and the monk realised that the young man was the son that he never knew he had. Now Olivier is prisoner, his whereabouts and imprisoner unknown. Although Cadfael has broken the Rule of the Benedictine Order before, he has never broken his monastic vows. But as he said, "Knowing or unknowing, before I was a brother I was a father." Cadfael is torn between the monastic life he loves so dearly and the duty he feels to find his son and set him free. A wonderfully moving and exciting book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Ellis Peters, always excellent April 16 1998
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Alas and alack! There will be no more Brother Cadfael mysteries. Ellis Peters is gone, but she has left a rich estate for all her readers, especially in the well-known Brother Cadfael series.
Cadfael's conflict in the book is between his monastic vows and what he perceives to be his natural duties as a father. His son Olivier has been captured and none know where he is. Cadfael looks for Olivier though he knows the search may cost him his home in Shrewesbury Abbey.
Later parts of the book deal with the issue that an honorable man may do that which seems most dishonorable if it helps end a destructive war.
Ellis Peter's characters are far more realistic and human than most. They are sympathetic, mostly good characters torn by events, doing wrong in reaction to being trapped in unpitying reality. Her characters are consistent and believable with a few possible exceptions. Olivier, for example, seems all perfection -- yet is this not how his loving father would see him?
As a whole, the Cadfael series is an excellent blend of plot, character, and setting. Brother Cadfael's Penance, the last written in the series, is one of the best. The insights are richer and deeper, the characters more engaging, the conflicts of a bigger yet always very human scale.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Left me longing for more
I was disappointed with this book. I am a big Ellis Peters fan and I hate that this is her final book. Read more
Published on March 29 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful end to the series
It is unfortunate that Ellis Peters has died. I do not know if this book was meant to be the final chapter in the Cadfael series, but it brings the series to an appropriate ending. Read more
Published on Dec 3 2002 by James McCarty
5.0 out of 5 stars A double delight: entertaining and edifying
Ellis Peters (Edith Pargeter) came to my attention early in the Brother Cadfael series, and has seldom been a disappointment. Read more
Published on Aug. 3 2002 by PATRICK OHANNIGAN
4.0 out of 5 stars Satisfying Conclusion
After reading Ellis Peters' 20th and last Cadfael story I can't help but feel a little sad knowing that there will be no more coming. Read more
Published on May 31 2002 by John D. Costanzo
5.0 out of 5 stars a splendid ending to Cadfael's legacy!
This final installment of the mysteries of Brother Cadfael finds Ellis Peters in outstanding form- what prose this Englishwoman conjures! Read more
Published on Jan. 26 2001 by LuelCanyon
5.0 out of 5 stars Miss Peters we will miss you!
BUT! Now Brother Cadfael belongs to history, and the readers who love him so.
Start at the beginning and READ THIS SERIES! Read more
Published on Dec 20 2000 by Gillian Middleton
5.0 out of 5 stars an excellent final volume for the Cadfael saga
Ellis Peters has again delivered an outstanding Brother Cadfael book. This adventure combines all of the elements we have grown to love - a pivotal event in the war between Maud... Read more
Published on Aug. 2 2000 by J. W. Johnson
3.0 out of 5 stars Very good but....
I'm a Brother Cadfael fan but also an Empress Matilda (Maud) fan, so I was very disappointed that Peters chose to portray her as the stereotypical vengeful "dragon lady"... Read more
Published on May 24 2000 by Cynthia L. Mclendon
5.0 out of 5 stars I could not put it down
It was such a vivid picture of Cadfael and his son among the military and political happenings of that time period. Read more
Published on Nov. 7 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars I didn't want to put it down.
This book is about Cadfael's son being kidnapped, and held WITHOUT ransom. Those of us serious Brother Cadfael fans love the depth that Ellis Peters uses to describe his feelings... Read more
Published on Dec 5 1998
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