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Master of Souls: A Mystery of Ancient Ireland (Sister Fidelma Mysteries) Paperback – October 2, 2007

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Master of Souls: A Mystery of Ancient Ireland (Sister Fidelma Mysteries) + The Leper's Bell (Sister Fidelma Mysteries) + A Prayer for the Damned: A Mystery of Ancient Ireland (Mysteries of Ancient Ireland Featuring Sister Fidelma of Cashel)
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Product Details

  • Series: Sister Fidelma Mysteries (Book 16)
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (October 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312374674
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312374679
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #635,415 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Set in A.D. 668, the pseudonymous Tremayne's pitch-perfect 16th mystery to feature Fidelma of Cashel (after 2005's The Leper's Bell) takes some diverting detours into politics, monastic life, the importance of bloodlines and the working of civil law vs. the emerging power of the Roman Catholic church. Fidelma, a dálaigh (or advocate of the law courts), follows a difficult path in an effort to solve the murder of Abbess Faife of Fhearta Abbey and the abduction of six novices in the abbess's charge. The subsequent bludgeoning death of Cináed, an elderly scholar in residence at the abbey, and the wrecking of a ship on the west Irish coast complicate her task. Once again, Tremayne, the author of many books on the ancient Celts under his real name of Peter Berresford Ellis, transports the reader to an unfamiliar time and place with a sure scholarly touch. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Tremayne never fails to deliver a fascinating and intriguing read. Besides the complex mystery found within, his books are rich in Irish history and lore . . . For all fans of medieval novels, especially mysteries, Tremayne's latest in the Sister Fidelma series is a gratifying read." --Anniston Star
"... pitch-perfect ... Once again, Tremayne ... transports the reader to an unfamiliar time and place with a sure scholarly touch."--Publishers Weekly
"Fidelma gathers up all the loose strings of her investigation and brings the case to a stunning conclusion."--Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"Tremayne, the pseudonym of Celtic scholar Peter Beresford Ellis, writes so authentically about this remote time period that readers will feel they are there in every way. His densely plotted stories are a delight for those who love puzzle mysteries."--Library Journal

More About the Author

Peter Tremayne is the fiction pseudonym of Peter Berresford Ellis, a renowned Celtic scholar who has written over 30 books on the Ancient Celts and the Irish. As Tremayne, he is best known for his stories and novels featuring 7th century Irish religieuse Fidelma of Cashel. He lives in London.

Customer Reviews

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The setting of the investigation is very interesting.
W. Easley
Is there not an old saying that he who writes a book with the phrase "Is there not an old saying...?" on every second page is not saying anything?
I have read all the books in this series, and this one was not a disappointment.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on December 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Tremayne is actually Peter Berresford Ellis, Celtic scholar, and this is his 16th Sister Fidelma mystery.

It is 668 AD, and Fidelma and her husband Eadulf must travel to the far west of Ireland to help solve the murder of Abbess Faife and the kidnapping of six novices. The political situation could be very unstable, as peace has recently been reached with the Ui Fidgente, the warlords of the area. Fidelma's skills as an investigator, her rank as a dalaigh, a sort of ancient legal advocate, and her knowledge as a scholar will be needed desperately.

Once they arrive at Fhearta Abbey, they discover that the scholar Cinaed has been killed--struck down in the chapel.

Was Cinaed killed for his views on marriage among the religious? His views on the trinity? Or was it something he had discovered and written about recently--all his writings are burned shortly after they arrive. Jealousy may be the cause (his wife and mistress hate each other); and other scholars resent his standing and influence, while deploring his views.

A shipwreck on the coast also figures into the story, as does gold hidden in the ruins of a rebel tower, a sly and duplicitous local warlord, and the "ghost" of a dead rebel, Uaman, who seems to be leading a nasty band of warriors. Fidelma is able to unravel the many strands of this mystery and show how all these are related, and discover who really is the "ghost" and responsible for the many deaths.

Tremayne is able to create seventh century religious life in a Celtic abbey with careful precision and lifelike characters.

Armchair Interviews says: You will truly be swept away into the past.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on November 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The Ui Fidgente and the Eoghanacht of Cashel have been at war for centuries until the battle at Cnoc Aine when the Ui Fidgente leader was killed. He was replaced by Donennach who pledged fealty to the King of Muman because he wanted peace for his people. In the territory of the Ui Fidgente, a member of the abbey Ard Fhearta was bludgeoned; at almost the same time, six religious from the abbey along with Abbess Faife are making a pilgrimage when they meet a battered sick man.

He tells them that he was the victim of wreckers who deliberately destroyed his ship on the rocks during a storm and killed his men and stole his cargo. They give him the clothes of a religious to wear and while he is changing, brigands kill the abbess and takes the religious hostage. Ui Fidgente warlord Conri asks Sister Fidelma to help figure out the mystery while her brother orders her to do so in order to cement relations with their former enemies. Fidelma is accompanied by Brother Eodulf, who wanted to stay at Cashel with their son and get ready for their binding wedding but knows that he must help her in her inquiries. When they come close to getting some answers, Sister Fidelma's life is in jeopardy.

Peter Tremayne writes some of the best historical mysteries due in part to his heroine, a woman living in an enlightened country when the rest of Europe is going through the dark ages. Her abilities as a dalaigh, an officer of the law courts, and her role as the sister of a king makes her a very powerful woman. The mystery is impossible to figure out as is the link between the death of the Venerable Cinaed and the disappearance of the six religious. Even the heroine claims this is the hardest case she ever worked on. MASTER OF SOULS is another brilliant Sister Fidelma who done it.

Harriet Klausner
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Brandt on November 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you're already a Sister Fidelma fan, I only need to tell you that this is another good one.

If the good sister-lawyer-noblewoman is new to you, ask yourself this: Could you be tempted by a superbly written medieval mystery that painlessly lays out the advanced culture of the Ireland of the 7th century while presenting a magnificent page-turner?

I have to admit that I love fiction written by genuine historical experts who enjoy making their period come alive by fictionalizing it. The Sister Fidelma books are a great example of that.

The most recent volume is a treasure.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nina M. Osier on February 1, 2013
Format: Paperback
Brother Eadulf, companion to Seventh Century Irish court advocate Sister Fidelma, saw the leper named Uaman die. Yet reports persist that the Lord of the Passes is alive, and commanding a band of raiders that has murdered an abbess and kidnapped the nuns who were making a pilgrimage in her charge. Fidelma is summoned to Fhearta Abbey to investigate these events, and despite her desire to stay close to her infant son with Eadulf - who was kidnapped and then rescued, in the preceding novel of this series - she feels she has to respond. For the summons comes from a war chief who leads former enemies of Fidelma's brother, King Colgu of Muman, and the political situation remains uncertain. When the two invesigators arrive at Fhearta, they're just in time to add another puzzle: the bludgeoning to death of a renowned and elderly scholar, Cinaed. A saintly man who, Fidelma is first told, had not an enemy in the world; but she soon finds out that his wife and his mistress each think the other was the old man's killer. When someone destroys all of Cinaed's writings, some of them not yet copied and therefore lost forever, the mystery deepens.

Fidelma and Eadulf share dangerous adventures as well as a convoluted investigation in this installment in the long series by historian Peter Beresford Ellis, who writes these books as Peter Tremayne. It's an exciting tale that more than overcomes frequently awkward writing and imperfect editing. The author's knowledge of his heroine's time and place makes the book work, and I am glad Fidelma isn't written as completely likeable. She is who she is, a woman devoted to her profession and willing to be disliked when getting the job done carries that consequence. Good reading, indeed!

--Reviewed by Nina M. Osier, author of 2005 science fiction EPPIE winner "Regs"
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