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A Rare Benedictine: The Advent of Brother Cadfael (Brother Cadfael Mysteries) [Hardcover]

Ellis Peters
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 stories of Cadfael�s early career July 4 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In 1120, Cadfael saw "A Light on the Road to Woodstock". Roger Mauduit's father deeded a manor to the abbey of Shrewsbury, which granted it back to him as a life tenant. The old man and Abbot Fulchered trusted one another, and were careless with the charter's actual wording. Now that both principals and all the witnesses have passed away, Roger has brought suit against the abbey that the tenancy is hereditary, and should remain with him, so Mauduit and the abbey's representative, Prior Heribert, are bringing the case before King Henry at Woodstock. Prior Heribert is armed with the abbey's correspondence with old man Mauduit as proof of intent.
Unfortunately, Mauduit knows his only hope is to keep Heribert from appearing in court, so the King will find for Mauduit in default. When 'footpads in the forest' kidnap Heribert, Cadfael (a Welsh armsman temporarily in Mauduit's employ) becomes suspicious. (This story also describes the first few stones that grew into the avalanche of the civil war between the Empress Maud (the King's daughter) and King Stephen.)
"The Price of Light" In 1135, Hamo FitzHamon, a harsh, self-indulgent lord of 2 manors, takes thought for his soul, when his sixtieth year greets him with a mild seizure. On the theory that the prayers of the brothers carry more weight with Heaven than those of ordinary recipients of charity, he has arrived at Shrewsbury for Christmas with his young wife, to conclude a charter arranging payment for the lighting of Mary's altar, and to gift the altar with 2 exquisite silver candlesticks (despite the custodian's opinion that the value of the candlesticks would be better sent to the almoner in this harsh winter).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The beginning of Brother Cadfael. Feb. 7 1997
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Boring from front to back Jan. 5 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I literally fell asleep while reading this book. I'm not kidding, I actually fell asleep. This is the second installment of the Ellis Peters series I've read, and I can asure you that I only read it because it was a school assignment. You're probably wondering why I'm giving this book so much verbal assault, so I'll explain.
First of all, this book doesn't even show any intention of grabbing your attention until the first third of the book is done. It's just the author telling you what Cadfael is doing and droning on and on about his everyday life, something which, as a 12th century preist, is excruciatingly mundane. Also, the plot doesn't develop until you've had your fourth cup of coffee in an attempt to keep yourself awake. I'll admit that once the plot finally got started I was a little taken in, but it was just too little too late.
The characters are hard to believe for most people in this day and age. Their actions make you wonder if this could actually happen, and their speech sounds like the story was written by a computer with its short, to-the-point sentences and lack of contractions.
All in all I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone unless they were an insomniac in need.
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5.0 out of 5 stars History, Mystery, & Mischief Nov. 9 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I didn't think I'd like Brother Cadfael. What little I'd seen of the TV Cadfael portrayed by Derek Jacobi had led me to believe Cadfael somewhat of a wimp. I studiously avoided Cadfael both on TV and in print. A long automobile trip and a dearth of listening material sent me to the audio section of a chain bookstore, and I happened on this audiobook detailing the origins of Brother Cadfael. It didn't take long to find out how wrong I'd been about Cadfael.
Brother Cadfael is no Father Brown. He is a robust, bear of a man whose spiritual strength matches his physical strength. As a youth he went Crusading and broke heads in God's service. As a mature man he took up another Cross and devoted himself to mending heads, again in God's service. As devout as he is, however, he cannot refrain from meddling in the affairs of others. His meddling takes the form of solving murder mysteries and other criminal conundra.
This collection of three short stories, however, is not the volume with which to begin your acquaintance with Cafael. Begin your reading of Cadfael with "A Morbid Taste for Bones." It is not only the first story in the series, it is an excellent murder mystery. It also gives the reader a pleasant window into the life of ordinary people in Medieval England.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Not a Benedictine - just sad ...
I really had high hopes for this series.

I started with this book as it is supposed to be 'book 0' as it introduces the protagonist. Read more
Published on April 12 2011 by W. Myers
2.0 out of 5 stars A Rare Benedictine
I did not enjoy these stories, I thought they were really boring even though I heard so many good things about this series. The reader's voice just droned on and on...
Published on Jan. 3 2004 by smartnurse123
4.0 out of 5 stars A soldier finds God. . .
Did you ever wonder just how the soldier, Crusader, and lover of the pleasures of life became the Benedictine monk known as Brother Cadfael? Read more
Published on Dec 21 2000 by David Zampino
5.0 out of 5 stars Where is Brother Cadfael buried?
I spoke with a woman recently who visited Shrewsbury, England and toured the 'Brother Cadfael' sites. Read more
Published on Aug. 7 2000 by David Robinson
5.0 out of 5 stars AT LAST
Those of you who are Brother Cadfael fans will certainly enjoy this tale. Our monastic sleuth has solved innumerable mysteries but he, himself has been a mystery. Read more
Published on July 19 2000 by Bonita L. Davis
3.0 out of 5 stars LIGHT UP YOUR MYSTERY READING
This book consists of three novelettes (about 50 pages each) complemented by curious, eye-catching b/w sketches by Clifford Harper. Read more
Published on July 3 1998 by Plume45
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but as sparse as a monk's diet.
These three short stories that make up the book are good, but lack the intrigue of the novels. The first story, A Light on the Road to Woodstock, is particularly interesting in... Read more
Published on June 13 1998 by "rhbouchard"
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