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A Rare Benedictine: The Advent of Brother Cadfael (Brother Cadfael Mysteries) Hardcover – 1989

3.6 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Mysterious Press (1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0892963972
  • ISBN-13: 978-0892963973
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.1 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #163,430 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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By A Customer on Jan. 5 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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 that I only read it because it was a school assignment. You're probably wondering why I'm giving this book so much verbal assault, so I'll explain.
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.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book consists of three novelettes (about 50 pages each) complemented by curious, eye-catching b/w sketches by Clifford Harper. Peters' 1988 Introduction provides brief glimpses into her favorite monastic's rare name, worldly career and personality. His personal, secular philosophy includes wry but compassionate acceptance of human foibles with our capacity for deception and depravity. No mention is made of his special patroness, Saint Winifrid--also Welsh--but his devoted admirers will revel in any literary work which fills in the gaps about our cowled Crusader.
The cover is a colorful triptych representing all three tales. Hint to meticulous readers: focus on the Eyes of the characters--at whom or what are they really looking? If you are a fan of Brother Cadfael, and have read all 20 of his full-length mysteries, you will be delighted to find one last chance to admire him in action. If you have not yet been introduced to Ellis Peters' medieval sleuth, this Prequel Trio may whet your appetite.
Here we have the Advent of Brother Cadfael, as he survives his blessedly brief Midlife Crisis--a truly rare and human Benedictine, content (most of the time) to seek the peace within the pale. Herbalist, private philosopher, paramedic and detective, he has a nose for the truth and an eye for suspicious behavior. This is one Brother who will light up your mystery reading! You may even learn something about the Middle Ages if you don't watch out...
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