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The Cadfael Collection

4.6 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

Additional DVD options Edition Discs
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(Jan 04, 2005)
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Collector's Edition
$149.98 $69.52

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In this unique mystery series based on the bestselling books by Ellis Peters, Sir Derek Jacobi (I, Claudius) stars as Brother Cadfael, a compassionate seeker of truth and justice in chaotic world medieval England.

DVD special features include exclusive audio comments by Derek Jacobi, Derek Jacobi essay, Ellis Peters materials, production scrapbooks, cast filmographies, and captions/subtitles for the hearing impaired.

  • Collection Includes

  • One Corpse Too Many

  • The Sanctuary Sparrow

  • The Leper of St. Giles

  • Monk’s Hood

  • The Virgin in the Ice

  • The Devil’s Novice

  • St. Peter’s Fair

  • A Morbid Taste for Bones

  • The Raven in the Foregate

  • The Rose Rent

  • The Pilgrim of Hate

  • The Potter’s Field

  • The Holy Thief

Never tell Brother Cadfael, the medieval mystery-solving monk, your theory of how a crime "must" have been committed. "We must always be wary of 'must,'" he states. "Nothing is certain." And so attest these divine mysteries based on the books by Ellis Peters and originally broadcast in the U.S. on the PBS series Mystery! Each of the 13 feature-length episodes in The Cadfael Collection is self-contained but plays against the backdrop of England's civil war between forces loyal to King Stephen and those to Empress Maud. Derek Jacobi (I, Claudius, Gladiator) stars as Cadfael, who at one point is aptly described as "an odd kind of monk." The former "soldier, sailor, sinner, and Crusader" has his faith tested by crimes of royal intrigue and baffling murders that seem to plague the neutral ground of 12th-century Shrewsbury. "The Virgin in the Ice" is a good introduction for Cadfael initiates. This story of "violence and cruelty" involves the near-fatal beating of a young monk, the murder of a nun, and the disappearance of two children. Local undersheriff Hugh Beringar (played over the course of the series by Sean Pertwee, Eoin McCarthy, and Anthony Green) relies on Cadfael when murder subverts his efforts to keep the peace. A tense standoff between these two friends heightens the climax of "St. Peter's Fair." Americans have never seen a sleuth such as Cadfael, a fascinating character who is at once a man of God, of science, and even of action. You'll find few Benedictine monks so skilled at using a quarterstaff. --Donald Liebenson

Special Features

  • All 13 episodes of the series: The Leper of St. Giles, Monk's Hood, One Corpse Too Many, The Sanctuary Sparrow, The Devil's Novice, St. Peter's Fair, The Virgin in the Ice, A Morbid Taste for Bones, The Raven in the Foregate, The Rose Rent, The Holy Thief, The Pilgrim of Hate, The Potter's Field
  • Ellis Peters biography and booklist
  • Audio-only notes by Derek Jacobi
  • Production scrapbook
  • Historical background notes

Product Details

  • Actors: Derek Jacobi, Michael Culver, Julian Firth, Terrence Hardiman, Mark Charnock
  • Directors: Sebastian Graham Jones
  • Format: Box set, Closed-captioned, Collector's Edition, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 13
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Acorn Media
  • DVD Release Date: January 4, 2005
  • Run Time: 975 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00068RYZU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,659 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Cadfael Collection" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

One evening I turned on my TV and found myself staring, enraptured, at the sight of a monk blundering his way through a snowstorm, accompanied by hauntingly beautiful choral music. Thus was I introduced to "The Virgin in the Ice" on the PBS show "Mystery!". Over the next few weeks I saw as many other Cadfael episodes as I could find, and periodically caught them again as they came and went. One nifty feature "Mystery!" included was Diana Riggs providing some historical background to 12th century England, which is when the Cadfael series is set.

I soon learned that the series is based on a set of twenty novels, plus one book of short stories, written by Ellis Peters. These span the years 1137 through 1145; they chronicle a Welshman named Cadfael, who fought in the Crusades and then retired to the Abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, in Shrewsbury, to become a monk. His vast trove of lore, built up during his travels in the Holy Land, serves him quite well as he is called upon to solve various murders throughout the years. His extensive knowledge of herbs puts him in good stead, as it allows him to leave the confines of the monastery frequently on errands as a healer. He comes to know the town folk quite well; this gives him plenty of willing helpers. He has the knack of prying information out of people who would never dream of divulging it to the sheriff, and more than once he courageously harbors fugitives wrongly hunted by the Law. His many years in the world give him great insight into the darkness which lurks in the souls of men, and, sometimes, even women.

Thus, as the episodes began to appear on DVD one by one, I eagerly bought them up. Finally I gained the ability to watch the entire 13-episode series back-to-back, at will.
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When the decision was made to produce for TV several episodes from her mystery series about Brother Cadfael, that 12th century crusader turned monk turned detective who has been, ever since his creation, one of the most compassionate and unusual sleuths of literary history, novelist Ellis Peters (Edith Pargeter) was not entirely happy. In fact, as the series' star, Sir Derek Jacobi, explains in the extra footage provided on the now-released DVDs, Ms. Peters had very mixed feelings about giving up her brain child and entrusting it to other people who went about cutting and adjusting everything, from the storylines themselves to the way the protagonists speak and even the Chronicles' sequence, to the necessities and limitations set by the new medium. But she eventually acquiesced and at one point promised that "the next one I write, I'll make sure it's easier for you all to film."

While the thirteen episodes that were eventually produced are, thus, not entirely true to the individual Chronicles they are based on, they are closer than many other movie or TV versions of famous works of literature. Most importantly, they maintain not only the core story lines but also the historical authenticity, atmosphere and spirit set by Ms. Peters's books in a marvelous fashion. And Sir Derek Jacobi brings both the wealth of his experience and skill and all of his own shrewdness, intelligence, sense of humor and empathy to the role of the medieval Benedictine sleuth and thus truly becomes Cadfael - for the thousands of new fans who are discovering the series through its enactment for TV just as much as for us who loved the books before they were ever transposed to a visual medium.
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Verified Purchase
Now that all 13 episodes of (Sir) Derek Jacobi's landmark mystery series "Cadfael" are now available in a single package, it's time to give this treasure a good look. The bound-leather look of the collection is nice, even if it's obviously not mediaeval. It has convenient double trays and a clever faux clasp to hold it shut.

"Cadfael" is based on the novels of Ellis Peters (pen name of Edith Pargeter). It's set in 1138-1144/5, during the spotty reign of Stephen of Blois - King of England 1135-1154 - and his civil war with his cousin "Empress" Maud (or Matilda). Stephen's claim to the throne was less compelling than that of Matilda (or Maud), as he was the son of William I's daughter Adela and had already sworn to support his cousin's claim. Maud's (or Matilda's) claim was better, since she was the daughter of William II. Her title "Empress" was only a courtesy because, although she had been wife to Holy Roman Emperor Henry V, she had never been crowned. Despite his oath Stephen quickly appeared to claim the throne when William II died. Matilda (or Maud) came to England in 1138 and a bitter civil war ensued. "Cadfael" begins in 1138, when Stephen seems to be gaining the upper hand. He has just captured the Shropshire area, subsequently executing a large number of his enemies - thus effecting the taming of Shrewsbury.

I expect some really sincere groans after that....

Brother Cadfael is the herbalist and, in consequence, as close to a doctor as Shrewsbury Abbey is likely to get. His medical practices are fairly advanced for the time - but then, any genuinely medical practices would be. Cadfael has come late to his monkish vocation, having spent 3 or 4 decades in Palestine on Crusade. He has an interesting past ...
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