In The Autumn Of The Benedictine Monastery At Shrewsbury Finds Its New Novice Meriet Aspley A Bit Disturbing The Younger Son Of A Prominent Family, Meriet Is Meek And Biddable By Day, But His Sleep Is Rife With Nightmares So Violent That They Earn Him The Name Of Devil S Novice Shunned By The Other Monks, Aspley Attracts The Concern Of Brother Cadfael Then A Body Appears, That Of A Young Priest Last Seen At The Aspley Estate Can Meriet Be Involved In The Death As Events Take A Sinister Turn, It Falls To Brother Cadfael To Detect The Truth I don t love thrillers and, although I love mysteries, would prefer the PG versions Too much suspense, too many dead bodies, and I back away even if, like Goliath, like The Sopranos, I love them I prefer my mysteries to be cozies.I don t think a mystery set in 12th century English abbey can really be a cozy nonetheless, Ellis Peters Cadfael series hits the same spot Cadfael, a Welsh monk, called to a vocation late in a very full life, was accomplished with herbs, medicines, and other kinds of healing He was adept at studying people while seeming to have no interest in them beyond a serene acceptance that they were in the same world with him p 29 His best friend, Hugh Beringar, was deputy sheriff of Shropshire They sharpened minds, one upon the other, for the better protection of values and institutions that needed defence with every passing day in a land so shaken and disrupted p 17 The Devil s Novice is the 8th in the Cadfael series In it, the second son of a manor was unexpectedly sent to the abbey an inappropriate choice of vocation About the same time, a promising cleric disappeared As Cadfael observed, And yet you know and I know that because one event follows another, it is not necessary the one should have caused the other And yet the mind is so constructed, it cannot break the bond between the two There is no sensible connection, and I cannot reeve the two apart pp 117 118 No fingerprints, DNA evidence, facial recognition software, the internet traces, or video evidence and despite one or two false arrests and confessions Brother Cadfael and Hugh Beringar solved this crime and set at least this one small part of the world right again The Devil s Novice includes a series of three maps each focused than the next , as well as a glossary I wish books set in different times and places included both. There s many a young man has got his hearts wish, only to curse the day he wished for it Upon my fourth reading, I raise my rating one star because this story compares so well with other historical fiction In addition to the murder mystery, this tale brings to the reader an understanding of a historical setting which borders on the mythic, an introduction to a medieval craft in this case, making charcoal , reflections on life then and now, a love story, and the fun of a tale well told He s innocent enough, God knows, to believe that other men are as honest as he Readers seeking a story grounded closer to fact than the average epic fantasy, which usually loses itself in horses that run forever, swords that never dull, clerics who call down lightning bolts and enough nihilism for a lifetime, Edith Pargeter s series on the life and times of this retired Crusader and now monastic should be welcome That s why I m on my fourth reading of this series Despair is a deadly sin, but worse it is mortal folly Cadfael series excellent historical fiction Ellis Peters draws the reader into the twelfth century with modern story telling but holds us there with a richness of detail which evokes a time and place which might as well be fictional Though the foreground of each chronicle is a murder mystery, behind it a nation and a culture are woven in a wondrous tapestry. Another enjoyable outing into medieval Shrewsbury A new novice who doesn t fit in and who carries a dark secret, and the half charred body of a missing and murdered courier We have the usual mix of likeable and really well drawn characters around Brother Cadfael I ve come to love And another low key but beautiful romance To my recollection, I ve never read any other mysteries set in the middle ages, but I boldly declare Ellis Peters s Cadfael stories to be the best Finished it this morning while my train to work was stuck at Stuttgart Nordbahnhof Again Aargh. Plot was mediocre compared to the previous two novels in the series I had a hard time maintaining interest and often found my attention focusing on other sources of reading material Still, you can t help but love Cadfael, so I ll go for one. First published in 1983, this is the eighth novel in the Chronicles of Brother Cadfael For a great story it s hard to beat a novel written by Ellis Peters In this one a younger son is presented to the abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul of Shrewsbury as a new entrant into the order, nineteen year old Meriet Aspley, by his father From the beginning Meriet is a study in contradictions with an unrestful spirit which has an unfortunate way of manifesting itself during times when the abbey should be sleeping Cadfael knows he must earn the trust of this young man before his year of service is up even though Meriet seem to desperately want to take his vows as quickly as possible.This is such a good story that it was a real pleasure to read it A main focus of each of the stories in this series is a mystery that Cadfael solves using skills he learned before he joined the order of the Benedictines In this one, at least for me, the mystery was almost a background note playing out while the complications in the life of Meriet were discovered The characters came vividly to life for me and the historical time period was well presented to form the reason this crime and this life changing experience meshed so well together This is one of my favorite Brother Cadfael stories. Another enjoyable outing with the character who got me hooked on historical mysteries, Brother Cadfael I reread this book, set in Autumn, to fulfill the Book For All Seasons challenge to read a book set in that season.I love Cadfael, and I love Ellis Peters writing she portrays the season with lovely descriptions at the beginning of the book, set in early Autumn, of still warm days, hazy sunshine, apple harvesting, and by the end of the book, winding up in December, there are frosty nights closing in The action centers around a young novice, determined to take vows, but haunted by nightmares Young Meriet screams in the night, terrifying his fellow novices and worrying Abbott Radulfus With the ongoing civil war between King Stephen and Empress Maud, times are hard and novices harder to come by, but can this young man become a monk when he is clearly troubled Cadfael must get to the bottom of this puzzle meanwhile, Hugh Beringar, under sheriff, must find out what has become of a bishop s emissary who has disappeared after passing through the family lands of Meriet, the devil novice does his disappearance have anything to do with the boy s night terrors A wonderful, evocative tale, great characters, satisfying puzzle, beautifully told as always This is the third one under my belt now and I am primed for finding some clean paperbacks at my library tomorrow as the series is, of course, old as are the books This was read out of order because it was brand new condition This was my favorite of the three, and the true humanity of the character Cadfael shines through I was glad to meet up with Hugh and his wife, introduced in the second book, and hope their presence continues throughout the series Time will tell. We, old friend I want you with me, and I think Abbot Radulfus will give me leave to take you You re better skilled than I in dead men, in how long they may have been dead, and how they died Moreover, he ll want a watching eye on all that affects Saint Giles, and who better than you You re waist deep in the whole matter already, you must either sink or haul clear This is not an unusual situation for our Brother Cadfael whose adventures began several years ago in Shrewsbury, England Winter is coming to the abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul where Brother Cadfael, an ex soldier has spent most of the past two decades It is 1140 and there is civil war going on and, fortunately for its location, the abbey has avoided incident and the abbey had good cause to be grateful to them, for many of its sister houses along the Welsh marches had been sacked, pillaged, evacuated, turned into fortresses for war, some than once, and no remedy offered Worse than the armies of King Stephen on the one hand and his cousin the empress on the other and in all conscience they were bad enough the land was crawling with private armies, predators large and small, devouring everything, wherever they were safe from any force of law strong enough to contain them In Shropshire the law had been strong enough, thus far, and loyal enough to care for its own The church has a large role to play and King Stephen has sent a church emissary north on a special mission He never arrives His body is missing and the focus is on the last place he stayed close to Shrewsbury before disappearing Is it coincidence that the younger son of the host has just come the abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul with a plea to join the brotherhood In a country racked by civil war, and therefore hampered in keeping ordinary law and order, everything unaccountable was being put down to outlaws living wild but for all that, now and then the simplest explanation turns out to be the true one There is a bit action is this Cadfael than in many of the others, but this doesn t mean that Peters neglects her wonderful details of the necessities of life These details just flow along with the story but I find myself totally immersed in them, such as There was no one tireless in collecting the stouter boughs of fallen wood, no one so agile in binding and loading them Even a minor character gets a full personality Brother Mark sat down obediently, sighing away the burden of his knowledge Grateful for the humblest of hospitality, he was equally unawed by the noblest, and having no pride, he did not know how to be servile When Aline herself brought him meat and drink, and the same for Cadfael, he received it gladly and simply, as saints accept alms, perpetually astonished and pleased, perpetually serene No newspapers, no internet, no texting.everything is local and word of mouth Peters captures this so well The news went round, as news does, from gossip to gossip, those within the town parading their superior knowledge to those without, those who came to market in town or Foregate carrying their news to outer villages and manors As the word of Peter Clemence s disappearance had been blown on the wind, and after it news of the discovery of his body in the forest, so did every breeze spread abroad the word that his killer was already taken and in prison in the castle, found in possession of the dead man s dagger, and charged with his murder No mystery to be mulled over in taverns and on street corners, no further sensations to be hoped for The town made do with what it had, and made the most of it More distant and isolated manors had to wait a week or for the news to reach them Another nice difference from some of the series is the appearance of powerful women Girl, said Cadfael, breathing in deeply, you terrify me like an act of God And I do believe you will pull down the thunderbolt But Brother Cadfael is the constant He is able to read character and draw out information from almost all He went up through the town to the castle that same afternoon, bespoken by Hugh from the abbot as healer even to prisoners and criminals He found the prisoner Harald in a cell at least dry, with a stone bench to lie on, and blankets to soften it and wrap him from the cold, and that was surely Hugh s doing The opening of the door upon his solitude occasioned instant mute alarm, but the appearance of a Benedictine habit both astonished and soothed him, and to be asked to show his hurts was still deeper bewilderment, but softened into wonder and hope After long loneliness, where the sound of a voice could mean nothing but threat, the fugitive recovered his tongue rustily but gratefully, and ended in a flood of words like floods of tears, draining and exhausting him One of Peters best and most satisfying 4.5 Another great book I was glad to see Brother Mark again he is one of my favorite supporting characters.
Edith Pargeter.Edith Mary Pargeter, OBE, BEM was a prolific author of works in many categories, especially history and historical fiction, and was also honoured for her translations of Czech classics she is probably best known for her murder mysteries, both historical and modern Born in the village of Horsehay Shropshire, England , she had Welsh ancestry, and many of her short stories and books both fictional and non fictional were set in Wales and its borderlands.During World War II, she worked in an administrative role in the Women s Royal Naval Service, and received the British Empire Medal BEM.Pargeter wrote under a number of pseudonyms it was under the name Ellis Peters that she wrote the highly popular series of Brother Cadfael medieval mysteries, many of which were made into films for television.
- 288 pages
- The Devil's Novice
- Ellis Peters
- 09 June 2019 Ellis Peters