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Master of Souls: A Mystery of Ancient Ireland (Sister Fidelma Mysteries) Hardcover – November 14, 2006
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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.)
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Top Customer Reviews
On another note, I wish to point out something that has nothing to do with the book although information in the Sister Fidelma series brought the fact to my attention. It concerns the troscud. Does anybody remember Bobby Sands and Francis Hughes, the two IRA men who died in prison during hunger strikes? I followed the drama in the newspapers here (it was 1981 and I was in high school at the time). I was very interested and sympathetic to what was happening. However, their actions have taken on new significance for me. Did they declare a troscud? If so, it was never explained in the American press as an ancient Irish rite of redress against grievances. Whether you agree or disagree with Sands is not the point of this commentary. I'm just saying it certainly adds a most interesting layer to the actions of the two men. In the Sister Fidelma books, we see two very different reactions to the troscud. When the old man declares a troscud in "The Haunted Abbot", he is ignored because the person it is directed against does not hold the rite in any sort of esteem. Sort of like the British government and Bobby Sands. Thus, the hunger strike fails in its objective. In this book, "Master of Souls", Fidelma threatens Mac Faosma with a troscud. Being of the same culture and holding the old Irish rite sacred, he acquiesces to her demands almost instantly.
It certainly adds another layer to the story of Sands and Hughes. I would love to know if they actually declared a troscud. If any one knows, can you let me know. Thanks.
As usual, Tremayne's scholarship shines through as a solid foundation for his intricate mystery set in ancient Ireland. At first, I grouched about the inclusion of so many phrases in Latin and Gaelic (always translated for the reader), but I soon came to realize that the phrases provided, in and of themselves, an underlying mystery that allowed the reader to unravel insights into the religious and political conflicts of 7th century Ireland, assuming that religious conflicts are anything but political.
Sister Fidelma and her Saxon companion Brother Eadulf also provided a revealing insight into personal relationships within religious communities in early Irish culture that would be eradicated after the invasion of ideologies from the Roman Church.
"Master of Souls is a good read. It provides treasures for all kinds of readers--those only interested in a good story line, unforgettable characters, political intrigue, as well as those readers who also enjoy the precious gems provided by Tremayne's depth and detail.
I have already placed my order with Amazon and eagerly await Tremayne's latest Sister Fidelma armchair adventure "Dancing with Demons" (paperback to be released soon).
Dancing with Demons: A Mystery of Ancient Ireland (Mysteries of Ancient Ireland featuring Sister Fidelma of Cashel)