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Brother Cadfael's Penance (Brother Cadfael Mysteries) [Mass Market Paperback]

Ellis Peters
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Brother Cadfael's 20th chronicle, Peters deftly binds the medieval monk's new adventure with family ties, moving from issues intensely public to problems determinedly private. Olivier de Bretagne, who (unknown to himself) is Brother Cadfael's son, has been taken prisoner during England's dynastic war between two grandchildren of William the Conqueror. Cadfael is determined to find Olivier, although to do so he must leave the monastery without his abbot's "leave or... blessing." The search begins badly when, at an unsuccessful peace conference, Yves Hugonin, Olivier's hot-headed brother-in-law, picks a fight with Brien de Soulis, a commander who may know where Olivier is held-but won't say. When Brien is found murdered, Yves is abducted by one who holds him responsible for the killing, and then Cadfael has two men to find. In the process, he delicately explores puzzles related to Brien's death and to shadowy deeds in the larger political scene. While Cadfael does his usual excellent sleuthing, Peters succeeds at an equally subtle game, demonstrating how personal devotion can turn to enmity-and how such enmity can be forestalled by justice and mercy. Mystery Guild selection.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Peters's last Brother Cadfael mystery, The Holy Thief (Mysterious Pr., 1993), sold nearly a third more than its predecessor, so Peters is clearly on a roll. In his 20th outing, Brother Cadfael decides to break his monastic vows in order to save his long-lost son.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Peters' twentieth tale in her popular Brother Cadfael series has the gentle monk leaving his cloister on a journey that will prove both dangerous and wrenching. In twelfth-century Britain, a rebellion has arisen, with factional fighting between the knights supporting Empress Maud and those swearing allegiance to her cousin Stephen. Philip FitzRobert, a traitor to the empress, has taken 30 hostages, among them a young man named Olivier de Bretagne, who is Cadfael's son from a chance encounter years earlier. Although Cadfael has lost track of the boy's mother, he's never forgotten his son, and once he finds out that Olivier has been spirited away and imprisoned, nothing--not even his vow of obedience to God and the abbot--can keep him from setting out to find the young man who has never known his true father. The quest becomes fraught with peril when Yves, Olivier's brother-in-law, is falsely accused of murder, and only Brother Cadfael can save him. Peters' graceful writing perfectly captures the spirit and ambience of early Britain. Intelligently written, the story is moving and suspenseful, with the intrepid and valiant Cadfael at his wise and gentle best. Emily Melton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

The ruinous civil war between King Stephen and the Empress Maud for 12th-century England brings added heartache to Brother Cadfael (The Holy Thief, 1993, etc.) when he learns that his unacknowledged son, Olivier de Bretagne, has become a casualty. Philip FitzRobert's quixotic decision to turn against his father, the empress's half-brother, and order his castellan Brien de Soulis to surrender the castle of Cricklade to the king has stranded 30 of Philip's followers who decline to switch sides so abruptly. Most of these steadfast supporters have been ransomed, but Olivier remains imprisoned in unknown hands. So Cadfael, wresting his abbot's permission to attend the peace conference in Coventry under pain of expulsion if he stays past the meeting's close, ventures forth. By the end of the conference he has to deal with two captives--after Yves Hugonin, the young brother of Olivier's pregnant wife and a suspect in the stabbing death of de Soulis, is snatched from under a safe-conduct as he rides away from the foiled conference. Cadfael will have little trouble proving Yves's innocence, or eliciting a confession from the real assassin, but the abiding interest here is in the increasingly revelatory series of meetings he has with the ruthlessly political yet deeply human turncoat Philip FitzRobert over the fates of Yves, Olivier, and FitzRobert himself. Persevere past the drumbeat of canned history in the opening chapter and you'll find the pace quickening to unfold one of Cadfael's most moving adventures, one that touches his own generous heart most closely. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

A more attractive and presupposing detective it would be hard to find. SUNDAY TIMES As usual, Ellis Peters writes with quietly compelling expertise and an eye for character. WOMAN'S JOURNAL --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Ellis Peters is a pseudonym of Edith Pargeter, author of historical novels such as The Heaven Tree Trilogy. Under the name of Ellis Peters she wrote crime fiction including The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael and a more "modern" detective, Detective Chief Inspector George False. Ellis Peters won many distinguished writing awards including an Edgar Award, the Silver Dagger Award and the Cartier Diamond Dagger Award of the Crime Writers Association. She lived in Shropshire, England.

From AudioFile

Stephen Thorne is on familiar ground here with this twelfth installment of the Brother Cadfael series. And no one brings the details of medieval life so luminously alive as Ellis Peters. Brother Cadfael, Benedictine monk and herbalist, has had another life. Before entering the monastery, it appears he fathered a son he knew nothing about. When he receives news that this son is being held in the civil war raging between King Stephen and Empress Maud, his vows to God are put to the test. Many wonderful things have been said in the pages of AUDIOFILE, and elsewhere, about Stephen Thorne's exceptional voice and marvelous performances. I can only add that he narrates this series with perfection; it's subtle, fluid, and flawless. D.G. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2003, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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