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The Potter's Field [Paperback]

Ellis Peters
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars The book was all right Nov. 6 1999
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I took the author to long to get to the point. She went all around in circles to get to the point
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4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and Touching Mystery July 12 1999
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is the first Brother Cadfael I have been talked into reading, and I loved it. The characters are compelling and touching and the perpetrator of the crime is understood by the Benedictine monks, and, thus, the reader. It's the mystery that sucks you in, but it's the character development and the way the author tells of Medieval life that are the value here, I think. At the end, I teared up a bit. I'm anxious to read more about Brother Cadfael and his colleagues!
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Plotter's Field Aug. 23 1998
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The plot is a bit worn thin, but Peters keeps up the interest with a good set of engaging characters and her marvelous use of language. Still a worthwhile investment.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Peters in full bloom. Aug. 23 1998
Format:Mass Market Paperback
A particularly good effort by Peters. In addition to her intriguing characters and historical backdrop, she gives us a good murder mystery as well.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and Touching Mystery July 12 1999
By Stacey M Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is the first Brother Cadfael I have been talked into reading, and I loved it. The characters are compelling and touching and the perpetrator of the crime is understood by the Benedictine monks, and, thus, the reader. It's the mystery that sucks you in, but it's the character development and the way the author tells of Medieval life that are the value here, I think. At the end, I teared up a bit. I'm anxious to read more about Brother Cadfael and his colleagues!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Nov. 26 2011
By J. Smallridge - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I wasn't sure I'd enjoy this book because the plot sounds so plain. However, I was blown away by Peter's ability to create a world and then draw a reader in with a fantastic mystery. This is a great book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mystery, character study, and fine historical novel, all rolled into one Nov. 25 2012
By Nina M. Osier - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The Abbey of St. Peter and St. Paul accepts the gift of a field, and has it ploughed for planting. When the plough turns at the end of a row, it's stopped by something under the ground; and that something turns out to be the rotted clothing, and a long tress of black hair, from a buried body. Who was this woman who lies secretly in unhallowed ground? Was she murdered, as seems all too likely? Brother Ruald once owned this field, before the potter answered his late-in-life call to the cloister and left his wife in possession of his property. After which the woman, embittered at Ruald for abandoning her and declaring to anyone who would listen that she had since found a more discerning lover, vanished. She had long black hair - but so, of course, do many women. The body has been buried long enough so little is left but clothing, hair, and bone, so even Ruald cannot say whether or not it is that of his wife.

Meanwhile, as Lord Sheriff Hugh Beringar gathers his company and responds to King Stephen's call to battle in the civil war tearing at nearby East Anglia, a young man makes his way home on foot from an abbey that the war has laid waste. Sulien abruptly left his noble family after his father died in one of King Stephen's battles, and during the year since then he has completed his time as a novice. Now he must either make his final Benedictine vows, or decide his vocation was false and return to his life in the world. Sulien grew up as the frequent and welcome guest of Ruald and his childless wife at their cottage. When he learns that Ruald is under suspicion of murder after the discovery of a woman's body in the potter's field, Sulien tells Abbot Radulphus that he knows Ruald's estranged wife to be alive and well elsewhere. Brother Cadfael finds that story hard to believe, but he cannot believe, either, that Sulien killed the woman; nor can he believe Ruald is guilty. So Cadfael launches his own investigation into the matter, with the blessing of his abbot and without the usual assistance from his good friend the Lord Sheriff.

This seventeenth book in the Cadfael series works well as both mystery and character study, and it's also a fine historical novel. I especially enjoyed the "elderly" (for the era, not if she were living now) female character, Donata, who is Sulien's mother. Slowly dying from a painful illness, Donata resents the well intended protection laid around her by her elder son and his bride, and Cadfael - himself no longer young - understands that the strength of her character far exceeds that of her body. How Donata deals with being kept in ignorance, and therefore diminished, delighted me just as much as it did the herbalist monk. A really good read!

--Reviewed by Nina M. Osier, author of 2005 science fiction EPPIE winner "Regs"
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Hidden Burial Dec 30 2010
By Nash Black - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The Abbey trades land with a neighboring diocese and plans a new use for a nice piece of land that once provided substance for a potter and his wife. The potter was visited by God and put aside his wife to become a brother in the cloister.
THE POTTER'S FIELD by Ellis Peters gives readers a glance into the customs of the early church and the passions that follow men and women to their deaths.
The body of a young woman is discovered as the plow turns the dark earth for cultivation. Who is this woman? How did she die? Why was her grave hidden from the offices of the church?
Brother Cadfael's search for the truth leads him into the home of a powerful local family who members have given their lives in service to the King and the Church with surprising results seldom present in the mystery.
Nash Black, author of TRAVELERS.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Troubling Matter Nov. 1 2010
By harpergirl - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I have read all the books in the Cadfael series, and enjoy the gentle manner of most of the characters. Ms. Peters' historical setting is intriguing, although she represents the medieval world as seen through rose-colored glasses. Yes, there is sex, violence, and other villanies, but there are no lurid details, and this is refreshing to my palate.

But there is one matter in this book which really troubles me. I cannot accept that Brother Ruald, after making matrimonial vows to his wife, Generys, can simply walk away from those vows to make another vow as a monk. From a very human point of view, he abandons a blameless woman who has been faithful and loving, in order to fulfill his OWN desires to be a monk. How selfish! Does the call to a religious vocation absolve one from vows previously taken and from responsibilities freely accepted in the world? Ruald's abandonment of his wife seems to me a great sin and the fact that he later repents of his treatment of her is not satisfying.

Perhaps not a flaw in Peters' writing, plotting, and historical research, but troubling nevertheless.
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