A Rare Benedictine: The Advent of Brother Cadfael (Brother Cadfael Mysteries) Hardcover – 1989
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Top Customer Reviews
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).Read more ›
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.
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.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
This tome is as well written as the Cadfael novels, but I prefer the long form to shorts, which is why I put three stars instead of four. Read morePublished on Jan. 16 2014 by Louise Levesque
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
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 morePublished on Nov. 9 2003 by George R Dekle
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 morePublished on Dec 21 2000 by David Zampino
I spoke with a woman recently who visited Shrewsbury, England and toured the 'Brother Cadfael' sites. Read morePublished on Aug. 7 2000 by David Robinson
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 morePublished 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 morePublished on July 3 1998 by Plume45