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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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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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5.0 out of 5 stars Where is Brother Cadfael buried? Aug. 7 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I spoke with a woman recently who visited Shrewsbury, England and toured the 'Brother Cadfael' sites. The tour guide mentioned that one of the most common questions she gets is 'Where is Brother Cadfael buried?' The answer of course is in Ellis Peters' novels. A combination of murder mystery, Benedictine spirituality, and English 12th century life-history-culture make Peters' novels my favorite series of the many English mystery writers. For other titles on Benedictine spirituality in the daily life of 21st century non-monastics look at these books:
The Family Cloister: Benedictine Wisdom for the Home, by David Robinson (NY: Crossroad, 2000); Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today, Joan Chittister (OSB).
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1.0 out of 5 stars Not a Benedictine - just sad ... April 12 2011
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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. However, what it did introduce, instead, was the lack of knowledge of actual Christian teaching the author demonstrates. If you're going to have a monk as the main character then you have to have him acting like a monk. Not some type of degenerate modernist "playboy" who satifies his carnal lust when the "heat" presents itself and a maid is "willing" - yes - that is what the book actually states. Not to mention someone who is happy with adulterous affairs being committed in front of him in his apothocary.

I'm sure there are more than a few who are scandalised by reading this - well, it's all there. The first in the first tale, the second example in the second tale. That's where I had to stop. The story was just too silly and stupid to believe. It seems the author has their own sad, sick agenda to promote and not that of historical or moral accuracy.

The author, Edith Mary Pargeter, who used the pen name 'Ellis Peters' received many awards for these books but they certainly demonstrate the modernist heresies (and yes, heresies they are) promoted in these works were more than approved of by the liberal writers of modern times. As for the writing style itself, it is okay. It is nothing spectacular - more like generic trashy pulp fiction set in the middle ages (12th Century to be exact).

If you want a real sleuth who solves mysteries and at the same time actually follows the teachings of the Church and is witty and well written, then you must read GK Chesterton's 'Father Brown Mysteries' series. Chesterton's 'The Man Who Was Thursday' would also be an excellent choice.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring from front to back
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... Read more
Published on Jan. 5 2004
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. 4 2004 by smartnurse123
5.0 out of 5 stars History, Mystery, & Mischief
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. Read more
Published on Nov. 9 2003 by George R Dekle
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 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
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 14 1998 by "rhbouchard"
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