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The Virgin in the Ice [Paperback]

Ellis Peters
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dec 14 1995 Cadfael
It is winter 1139 and the tranquil life in the monastery gardens in Shrewsbury is again interrupted by violence. Raging civil war has sent refugees fleeing north from Worcester. Among them are two orphans from a noble family, a boy of thirteen and an eighteen year old girl of great beauty, with their companion, a young Benedictine nun. But the trio have disappeared somewhere in the wild countryside. Cadfael fears for these three lost lambs, but his skills are needed to tend to a wounded monk, found naked and bleeding at the roadside. Why this holy man has been attacked and what his fevered ravings reveal soon give brother Cadfael a clue to the fate of the missing travellers and he sets out to find them. The search will lead him to discover a chilling and terrible murder, and a tale of passion gone astray.

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Charming and humorously told.—SPECTATOR

About the Author

Ellis Peters is one of the pseudonyms of Edith Pargeter who wrote several books under her own name and also Peter Benedict, Jolyon Carr and John Redfern. She was the recipient of the Crime Writers Association and the Cartier Diamond Dagger Award. She died in 1995.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars First-rate Mediaeval thriller and murder mystery Nov. 19 2001
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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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the strongest Cadfael mysteries. Aug. 31 2001
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Another Cadfael Episode June 7 2000
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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5.0 out of 5 stars "The Virgin In The Ice" Chills The Blood Feb. 23 1997
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The late Ellis Peters outdoes herself with this adventure of the indomitable Brother Cadfael, when two virgins, a young nobleman, a monk burning with unforgotten desire, and a travelling gang of outlaws cross paths.

"Virgin" propells you on a ride through twelth century England in civil war when men were men, monks were monks and women were in many ways stronger than both.

Prepare yourself for a surprise from the sometimes overly saintly Brother Cadfael when he meets a stranger from the far east who has a tale that shakes the good monk's foundations and warms the reader.

The characters in "Virgin" are drawn in vivid colors reflecting the times they find themselves in, and new readers of the Brother Cadfael chronicles will be inextricably drawn to more and more from Ms. Peters.
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