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Brother Cadfael's Penance (Brother Cadfael…
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Brother Cadfael's Penance (Brother Cadfael Mysteries) (original 1994; edition 1996)

by Ellis Peters

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1,225186,502 (4.02)88
Member:Doomspark
Title:Brother Cadfael's Penance (Brother Cadfael Mysteries)
Authors:Ellis Peters
Info:Mysterious Press (1996), Mass Market Paperback, 272 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
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Brother Cadfael's Penance by Ellis Peters (1994)

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English (14)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  German (1)  All languages (18)
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Six-word review: Tender, brilliant conclusion to Cadfael's journey.

Extended review:

Never before have I been inclined to use the word "tender" to describe a murder mystery, but it fits this one.

As is the case with a number of the Cadfael books, especially in the later episodes in this twenty-book series, the real focus of the story is not the mystery or the solution of the mystery; that is simply the occasion of it. Something else is more prominent: a romance, medieval political conflict, disguise and deception, the meaning of religion and piety, the secrets of a troubled soul, the inner journey of Brother Cadfael.

In this volume it is the latter that comes to the foreground.

And appropriately so. From the books alone, without consulting other sources, there is no doubt in my mind that the author knew this would be the last Cadfael book. Indeed, it wouldn't surprise me at all if she had written or at least outlined much if it far earlier in the series and saved it up until it was time to draw back the last curtain.

Here at last we see the full flowering of Cadfael's relationship with Olivier de Bretagne; his remembered past with Maryam viewed from the peace of "all passion spent"; his drive to fulfill a mission given uncompromising expression; and his vocation put to a final test, transcending habit--and habit--to become a renewed choice.

I began reading Cadfael in January of 2013, having no notion of how fond of the characters--and of the author's beautiful prose--I would become. Now, sad as I am to reach the series end, I can't imagine a more fitting conclusion. It leaves me free to imagine Cadfael carrying on indefinitely, doing what he does best, yet with the settled serenity of questions answered and doubts resolved. No author could do better for a beloved character than Peters has done for her Brother Cadfael.

Now I wish that I hadn't given my paper copies away as I completed them. This one, at least, is a keeper for my shelf. ( )
1 vote Meredy | Jun 29, 2016 |
This is the last in the 20-volume Brother Cadfael series, and the second in the series that I've read. (I previously read #11).
I'd sort of expect any writer to be getting a bit weary of a scenario or character after 20 installments, however nothing of the kind came through for me. I thought this was a quite well-written book, not too bogged down by tropes of the mystery genre, with a nice mix of politicking and family drama. I found it to be more convincing and believable than many medieval mysteries, as well. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
Brother Cadfael pursues a personal quest to find his son Olivier de Bretagne and by so doing risks being unable to return to his former life at Shrewsbury.
This is I believe the last chronicle in the Cadfael canon and leads to a worthy conclusion for the brother whose humanity and compassion goes beyond church doctrine and feudal rivalries. ( )
  supersnake | Dec 30, 2015 |
I love Brother Cadfael mysteries. ( )
  RBeene | Mar 20, 2015 |
As the series progresses, the mysteries become less important to the story, with less of Cadfael's sleuthing, and the adventures more so. There's very little investigation here, but a rousing adventure and a great series of scenes of a castle under siege. A wonderful ending to a series that's become a classic. ( )
1 vote GunnarGrey | Apr 8, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ellis Petersprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Thorne, StephenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The Earl of Leicester's courier came riding over the bridge that spanned the Severn, and into the town of Shrewsbury, somewhat past noon on a day at the beginning of November, with three months' news in his saddle roll.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0446404535, Mass Market Paperback)

While Cadfael has bent Abbey rules, he has never broken his monastic vows--until now. Word has come to Shrewsbury of a treacherous act that has left 30 of Maud's knights imprisoned. All have been ransomed except Cadfael's secret son, Olivier. Conceived in Cadfael's soldiering youth and unaware of his father's identity, Olivier will die if he is not freed.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:35 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

In 12th Century Britain, Brother Cadfael searches for his son, Olivier de Bretagne, taken prisoner in a war between the grandchildren of William the Conqueror. In the process he discovers intrigue and murder. By the author of The Holy Thief.

(summary from another edition)

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