Though written after several of the novels were in print and quite successful, these short stories include the tale of Cadfael's decision to give up the life of a wandering mercenary and take up the life of a Benedictine. It also includes to shorter works that describe brief adventures after Cadfael took the hood.
I am a Cadfael fan in all his incarnations, including Sir Derek Jacobi's interpretation for the BBC/PBS Mystery series, so I am a little biased. If you are familiar with the series of novels, you will find a welcome 'more of the same' here. If you're not, realize that Cadfael is a 12th century English Benedictine monk who gave up the life of an adventurer for the life of the cloister. He has become an expert in herbal medicine, and seems drawn to mysteries, especially murders. HOWEVER - let me hasten to add there is no hoaky "Murder She Wrote" air about this. The 12th century was a rough time. Travellers dead on the road were not uncommon, yet murder was still a crime. The characters are engaging and believable, and the setting is at once alien and familiar, much like good Tolkienesque fantasy.
My only complaint about this collection is the "origin" story itself. There seems no telling incident, no epiphany that took Cadfael from one life to another. At some point in his life, it seems, he simply decided to retire. It may well be that, were the man to be among the living, that's what would have happened, but in fiction one looks for more plot twists.