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review 2015-10-21 22:59

Finished the first Cadfael book. Have heard of this series (of course) but never read any of the books. It was great! Will definitely pick up others in time – like when waiting on another series book to come out, or just nothing in the old TBR pile is sparking.  Apparently there are 20 books in this series, and everyone recommends reading them in order, so this is where you start.


Fantastic story, wonderfully written.  No wonder Brother Cadfael is one of the most popular historical mystery series, even spinning off a television series (I think).  I may need to track those down too.  


Within the first few pages of this first book of the series, I knew Brother Cadfael would be a character that I’d want to follow through many more stories.  


What I liked:
Peters captures what I suspect to be a lot of historical/ cultural nuances in simple, effective ways.  There’s a huge amount of research behind this, but we’re not drawn out into these huge sweeping encyclopedia entries in an attempt to build this distant time and place around the modern reader.  We jump straight in as a fly on the wall, watching and listening, wholly transported.  I also liked that the religious aspects of the story were handled in a sympathetic, but I think also very honest way.  The mystery itself wasn’t overly complicated, but that’s part of what made it ring true to me.


Brother Cadfael is also a very interesting character.  Peters obviously wrote this with an eye toward several more books, with many hints and winks at his colorful past.  

A big recommend from me if you’re into history, mystery, or even books like Game of Thrones.

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review 2013-07-30 00:00
Dead Man's Ransom - Ellis Peters A young Welch lord captured by the English and an English sheriff captured by Welch soldiers have Brother Cadfael using his language and negotiation skills to do an exchange. When, the English Sheriff is murdered and it is up to Brother Cadfael to solve the mystery. A little different than the usual Brother Cadfael since it mostly takes place in his homeland. As I expect from Ms. Peter’s a good story and fun read, just right to relax with in the summer’s heat. If you like Ellis Peter’s Brother Cadfael mysteries you won’t be disappointed.
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review 2013-07-28 00:00
The Leper of Saint Giles - Ellis Peters 3* A Morbid Taste for Bones (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #1)3* One Corpse Too Many (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #2)3* Monk's Hood (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #3)3* The Leper of St. Giles3* The Virgin in the Ice (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #6)3* The Sanctuary Sparrow (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #7)3* Dead Man's Ransom (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #9)3* The Summer of the Danes (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #18)2* Flight of a Witch (Felse, #3)Edith Mary Pargeter:5* Sunrise in the West (Brothers of Gwynedd, #1)TR The Dragon at Noonday (Brothers of Gwynedd, #2)TR The Hounds of Sunset (Brothers of Gwynedd, #3)TR Afterglow and Nightfall (Brothers of Gwynedd #4)
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review 2013-05-19 00:00
The Leper of Saint Giles - Ellis Peters The Abbey at Shrewsbury is to host the middle ages equivalent of the celebrity wedding of the year, between a consequential but much older lord and a highly manipulated young woman of great property. While the two to be wed care little for each other, the groom and the bride's guardians (her Aunt and Uncle) see the material advantages. The bride's affections and happiness are engaged elsewhere with a young squire in her groom-to-be's household. When the groom doesn't show up for his wedding and is found dead in the woods things start to become tricky. Meanwhile at the local leper colony, there is a particularly mysterious newcomer who takes a great interest in the hullabaloo at the Abbey.

This is a lovely convoluted mystery with links to the crusades and which involves a mysterious and awesome mistresses and some wicked guardians. It's a great and detailed plot with plenty of nuance even if the solution at the end is somewhat reminiscent of a Scooby Doo or Poirot mystery where all is unraveled and revealed in a big flourish.

Again we have a large new cast to get acquainted with and Peters makes it easy to distinguish and get to know them. Joscelin Lucy is a particularly engaging young hero who is believably young and somewhat self-consciously chivalrous. We see the entrance of the hapless Brother Oswin who plagues Cadfael as his assistant and Peters descriptions of his enthusiasm and clumsiness are hilarious. The denizens of the Leper colony that we meet are equally charming especially the little boy Bran and the mysterious Lazarus.

It's interesting to see how Lepers were treated in Medieval times when the causes of the disease were not understood and the effects were devastating and often deadly. Considering the amount of fear and disgust associated with lepers it is amazing that colonies for their care existed and emphasizes the bravery of the uninfected souls that chose to care for them. Peters uses this to her advantage - Joscelin's acceptance and willingness to move amongst these folks are a testament to his strength of character.

The narration by Johanna Ward is again excellent.

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review 2013-05-13 00:00
One Corpse Too Many
One Corpse Too Many - Ellis Peters,Johanna Ward

This was wonderful. I was thinking all through it that I would be giving it four stars because I really have to save the very best books for five star class winners, but then came the end which I adored. So yep, another five star book. This is as good as The Leper of Saint Giles, and that I gave five stars. With that one I was shocked that I could love a book of a mystery series. It astounded me. Now I am beginning to expect Ellis Peters to perform as one of the best of the best, and she pulled it off again.

Here is why I love the books of this series and Ellis Peters:
All the books are about medieval life in Shrewsbury, England. This place really exists. It is not imaginary! I love these books because you feel that you are in that village and you are there at the beginning of the 12th Century. Everything fits. Peters never throws in a detail that is out of time or out of place. There is no modern day slang. Curse words are not thrown around. The dialogs use the words of those times and people, but it is never hard to understand. It all just feels g-e-n-u-i-n-e. Clothing, food, customs, religious beliefs, historical facts, medical practices – they are all here but written in such a fashion that they never, ever become dry, taught or boring. You see the people, you smell the herbs, you too are there at compline…..You are part of that duel, rooting for your hero.

There is humor. Not sad humor, not sardonic humor, but sweet humor. You will chuckle as you watch how two men try to outwit each other. You love them both so this is pure enjoyment. No nasty rivalry.

Sure there are villains, but there are central characters that you love. They are kind and forgiving. They have humility.

If there is a battle it is not gruesomely depicted. There is no glorification in that which is gruesome. If a villain has to be punished surprisingly enough that punishment does not have to be imposed upon by a human. Nature sees that those who have done wrong are punished. So has it been in every one of the books I have read by Peters. I adore this trademark of her writing.

Although these books are centered on life in a Benedictine abbey, where of course religious beliefs are of central focus, never are we lectured about how we must behave or what we must believe. No religion is shoved down your throat. We can all agree about the religious ideas promulgated in the story. Morality, good behavior, kindness, compassion and understanding are qualities we all recognize and aspire to.

One word about why I loved this particular book so much. I love the friendship that you see growing between Hugh Beringar and Cadfael. I loved that King Stephen was NOT drawn as a terrible villain and that the monks stay outside the strife between the two rivaling sides, Empress Maude and King Stephen. I liked how real people are interwoven with characters invented by the author. What impressed me about this particular book was also that this is a love story, and I don’t like love stories, but this was so dam cute to watch. In fact there are two love stories; both were marvelously depicted. I was giggling at the end.

The audiobook narration by Johanna Ward (alias Kate Reading) was just perfect. One must have an English accent when reading this book. How has she so well learned to mimic these villagers of the 1130s?! Monks and King Stephen and beggars and knights, all of them are done to a tee.

I read this with Gundula as a buddy ready. We had so much fun discussing historical details and what we enjoyed. Here is a link to that discussion: http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1321406-one-corpse-too-many?utm_medium=email&utm_source=comment_instant#comment_74014041

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