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The Virgin in the Ice Paperback – Apr 1 1992


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 271 pages
  • Publisher: Time Warner Paperbacks; New edition edition (April 1 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0708825834
  • ISBN-13: 978-0708825839
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 10.8 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 100 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,225,928 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This sixth in the series of tales of Brother Cadfael is less obviously a whodunit and much more of a thriller or twelfth century adventure story. It is set in the English Marches, amidst the chaos ensuing from the sacking of Worcester by supporters of the Empress Maud against King Stephen in November 1139. The action takes place in Ludlow (mid-way between Cadfael's normal haunts of Shrewsbury, and the beleaguered city of Worcester) where our hero is ostensibly nursing back to health a Benedictine brother who has seemingly been waylaid by a band of outlaws, stripped and left for dead.
Whilst in Ludlow, Cadfael also finds himself embroiled in the hunt for a party of three young persons missing after the attacks on Worcester and known to be heading for Shrewsbury, at which destination they have failed to arrive. With a bitter freeze and the winter's first snows on hand, there are grave concerns for their safety and well-being. One of the three is subsequently found dead - obviously killed and dumped in a watery (now icy) grave on the very night that the good monk's patient was attacked.
Unlike many another Cadfael tale, this one moves along with a gripping sense of urgency and with a fair amount of tension and excitement building gradually as things proceed. It contains Ellis Peters' usual meticulous attention to both historical and narrative detail and constitutes as riveting - and entertaining - a story as you are likely to find. As always, Cadfael is aware of details overlooked by others and never once loses sight of the smaller issues that are wont to become subsumed into the larger, weightier ones. He (and the regular reader) is provided with an unlooked-for reward in this volume, too.
This book has to be one of the very best of the Cadfael Chronicles and is unreservedly recommended for lovers of the genre. Its story line stands somewhat apart from others in the series, making it fairly unimportant where it is read in the sequence.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
First be warned that you have to like historical mysteries, particularly those that take place in medieval times - life was slower back then, and news travelled even slower (depending on the weather, the method of transport, the level of political strife, the condition of roads etc). All of these conditions are brilliantly evoked in THE VIRGIN IN THE ICE, which contains several surprising subplots, including revelations about Cadfael's past.
Now to the review proper. If this is the first Cadfael you are reading, you might find understanding some expressions and the society he lives and works in somewhat hard to follow. Basically, the story is set in the middle of a bitter English civil war between two grandchildren of William the Conqueror. Cadfael is a Welsh soldier turned monk. His chosen specialization in herbs and gardening is combined with his knowledge about warfare (and wounds inflicted by men on each other) and the real world to make him a formidable medieval detective. Furthermore, as a monk, he is relatively protected (as far as one could be protected) from physical harm on either side. Cadfael's duties keep him mostly in one town - Shrewsbury and its immediate environs, but he has been known to travel. While most of the Cadfael mysteries are set close to Shrewsbury (a real town near the Welsh border), in this particular book Cadfael will travel closer to Ludlow, a major castle to the south of Shrewsbury. During his sojourn, he will have to solve several mysteries, such as the identity of the young woman he finds dead and encased in ice (hence the title), the name of her murderer and his motive, the whereabouts of two noble orphans whose uncle belongs to the opposing side in the war, and the whereabouts of a band of robbers terrorizing the countryside.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
A lovely book. I, however, was not all that interested in it. I have never really cared for the history mystery genre. The ending was a nice touch though.
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By Amanda Houston on June 30 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was the first Ellis Peters novel I have read. I understand that she continues the Cadfael series, and I would be interested in checking out the other books. Brother Cadfael was an interesting mix of the world (due to his previous life outside of the ministry-as a soldier) and the Spirit. He was very smart, but was not my favorite detective. The thing I loved the most about this book was Ellis Peters' descriptions about people and situations. The description that struck me the hardest was the one of the woman's body Brother Cadfael found in the beginning. I'd like to conclude by saying that the historical information was invaluable as well. A mystery with a historical context is something I thoroughly enjoy!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is another in Ellis Peters' Cadfael series. As period pieces, these books are quite good, and they make an enjoyable read on that basis. Brother Cadfael and the other ongoing Shrewsbury characters are well-drawn and believable. As mysteries, these stories are engaging if not always awfully difficult to figure out. Cadfael bases a lot of his sleuthing on his assessments of the character of other protagonists, which can sometimes make the plots a bit transparent.
Also, keep in mind that the pace of life was considerably slower in the 12th century than it is today. Nowhere will you get the urgency or the sometimes frenetic pace of a John Grisham or Robin Cook tale. This can be a blessing, though.
This particular installment is one of the better ones. It is a good light read for the general reader and is especially interesting for Brother Cadfael fans because of the extra insight into earlier events in his life. The who, what, when and where remain a puzzle until it all gets sorted out at the end.
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