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The Potters Field: The Seventeenth Chronicle of Brother Cadfael Hardcover – October, 1990

22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Peter's 17th mystery featuring Brother Cadfael finds the 12th-century monk at his most sober and reflective, but his detecting talents are as dazzling as ever. When a newly tilled field recently given to the Benedictine abbey yields the hastily buried body of a young woman, Brother Cadfael takes a keen and immediate interest in the situation. Ruald, the former tenant of the land, entered the abbey as a novice a year earlier, abandoning his beautiful, young and extremely resentful wife, Generys. She has since mysteriously disappeared. Though it seems likely that the body is hers, Ruald is quickly cleared of suspicion via an unlikely source. Sulien Blount, a monk fleeing homeward from the devastating civil war near his own abbey, has solid proof that Generys was recently seen alive. When a second suspect, an itinerant peddlar, is arrested in connection with the murder, Sulien is again able to clear him. Brother Cadfael, deeply troubled, feels that Sulien knows much more than he is saying. An unusual air of melancholy pervades this novel as war, illness and human frailties take their tolls on the weary citizens of Shrewsbury. Created with Peters's consummate skill, Brother Cadfael's world is here seen through a darker glass.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

A pleasing and unusual mixture of suspense and historical fiction. EVENING STANDARD --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 179 pages
  • Publisher: Mysterious Press (October 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0892964197
  • ISBN-13: 978-0892964192
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,346,983 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Stacey M Jones on July 12, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the first Brother Cadfael I have been talked into reading, and I loved it. The characters are compelling and touching and the perpetrator of the crime is understood by the Benedictine monks, and, thus, the reader. It's the mystery that sucks you in, but it's the character development and the way the author tells of Medieval life that are the value here, I think. At the end, I teared up a bit. I'm anxious to read more about Brother Cadfael and his colleagues!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Nina M. Osier on November 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The Abbey of St. Peter and St. Paul accepts the gift of a field, and has it ploughed for planting. When the plough turns at the end of a row, it's stopped by something under the ground; and that something turns out to be the rotted clothing, and a long tress of black hair, from a buried body. Who was this woman who lies secretly in unhallowed ground? Was she murdered, as seems all too likely? Brother Ruald once owned this field, before the potter answered his late-in-life call to the cloister and left his wife in possession of his property. After which the woman, embittered at Ruald for abandoning her and declaring to anyone who would listen that she had since found a more discerning lover, vanished. She had long black hair - but so, of course, do many women. The body has been buried long enough so little is left but clothing, hair, and bone, so even Ruald cannot say whether or not it is that of his wife.

Meanwhile, as Lord Sheriff Hugh Beringar gathers his company and responds to King Stephen's call to battle in the civil war tearing at nearby East Anglia, a young man makes his way home on foot from an abbey that the war has laid waste. Sulien abruptly left his noble family after his father died in one of King Stephen's battles, and during the year since then he has completed his time as a novice. Now he must either make his final Benedictine vows, or decide his vocation was false and return to his life in the world. Sulien grew up as the frequent and welcome guest of Ruald and his childless wife at their cottage. When he learns that Ruald is under suspicion of murder after the discovery of a woman's body in the potter's field, Sulien tells Abbot Radulphus that he knows Ruald's estranged wife to be alive and well elsewhere.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Smallridge on November 26, 2011
Format: Paperback
I wasn't sure I'd enjoy this book because the plot sounds so plain. However, I was blown away by Peter's ability to create a world and then draw a reader in with a fantastic mystery. This is a great book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By harpergirl on November 1, 2010
Format: Paperback
I have read all the books in the Cadfael series, and enjoy the gentle manner of most of the characters. Ms. Peters' historical setting is intriguing, although she represents the medieval world as seen through rose-colored glasses. Yes, there is sex, violence, and other villanies, but there are no lurid details, and this is refreshing to my palate.

But there is one matter in this book which really troubles me. I cannot accept that Brother Ruald, after making matrimonial vows to his wife, Generys, can simply walk away from those vows to make another vow as a monk. From a very human point of view, he abandons a blameless woman who has been faithful and loving, in order to fulfill his OWN desires to be a monk. How selfish! Does the call to a religious vocation absolve one from vows previously taken and from responsibilities freely accepted in the world? Ruald's abandonment of his wife seems to me a great sin and the fact that he later repents of his treatment of her is not satisfying.

Perhaps not a flaw in Peters' writing, plotting, and historical research, but troubling nevertheless.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Beverley Strong on May 11, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In this 17th chronicle of the detective monk, Brother Cadfael is asked to help to identify the body of a woman who was discovered when the monks of the Abbey of St.Peter and St.Paul began to till a field which had just been donated to them. The field was previously occupied by Ruald, a local potter who abandoned his wife of many years to become a monk, claiming that he had a divine calling from God, and the fact that he was leaving his wife neither free nor widowed, was immaterial. Local rumour has it that Ruald's wife, Generys, ran off with a lover and, as she was a very beautiful woman who certainly did not appreciate being dumped, even for God, this rumour was generally accepted. It's the year 1143 and the civil war between King Stephen and the Empress Maud is still raging, with the armies of both sides doing great damage to the countryside and the people. When an Abbey in the fens was seized by renegade soldiers under Geoffrey de Mandeville, the monks were forced to flee to safety and one of them, a young man who was still a novice, comes to Shrewsbury. Sulien Blount is the younger son of a local noble family and begs admission to the Abbey to continue his novitiate. Sulien has a ring belonging to Generys and claims that he obtained it recently from a silversmith near the besieged Abby, which proves that she is still alive and so the body which was found cannot be hers. When the Sheriff, Hugh Beringar is commanded by the king to take a troop of soldiers to the fens to flush out the marauders, he takes the opportunity to visit the silversmith to find out the truth about Generys ring. Between them, Cadfael and Hugh discover the truth behind the body which was buried in unconsecrated ground...an unbelievably shocking thing in those times.
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