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A Rare Benedictine (1988)

by Ellis Peters

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Brother Cadfael Mysteries (0.5, (prequels 0.1-0.3))

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,760319,598 (3.88)81
Fiction. Mystery. Historical Fiction. HTML:

"Three classic stories featuring Brother Cadfael . . . whose powers of deduction are practically miraculous" in the Silver Dagger??winning medieval mystery series (Booklist).
"Brother Cadfael sprang to life suddenly and unexpectedly when he was already approaching sixty, mature, experienced, fully armed and seventeen years tonsured." So writes Ellis Peters in her introduction to A Rare Benedictine??three vintage tales of intrigue and treachery featuring the monastic sleuth who has become the best-loved ecclesiastical detective since Father Brown.

Although Cadfael has appeared in twenty novel-length chronicles, the story of his entry into the monastery at Shrewsbury has been known hitherto only to a few readers. Now his myriad fans can discover the chain of events that led him into the Benedictine Order
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» See also 81 mentions

English (28)  Italian (1)  German (1)  French (1)  All languages (31)
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
Christmas
  GHA.Library | May 5, 2023 |
The book is the final installment of the Brother Cadfael mysteries & least successful. The author was apparently at this point was no longer interested in the stories so it seems there was little attempt to match the turns & twists of her previous stories. Overall, the Brother Cadfael, with a mix of historical fiction & mystery set around the early 1100s, was well written. With the exception of this book, the series was well done. ( )
  walterhistory | Sep 17, 2022 |
My mother gave me this book when I was last home (I come by my tendency to buy duplicate books honestly), and it wasn't until I was shuffling through my TBR a few days ago that I actually stopped and looked at this one. I wanted to know which books I needed to find to complete my collection of Brother Cadfaels. Flipping through this one, I discovered it's a compilation of three prequel stories that Ellis Peters wrote over the years. Bonus: one of them took place over Christmas.

I love this book! It's illustrated with beautiful color reproductions of medieval (or medieval-style) prints, and there's an introduction by Ellis Peters, explaining a few basic details behind the Cadfael series, like how it got started, how he got his name, and why she'd never written any stories about his crusading days. She's also very clear, in a manner that feels purposeful, that Cadfael never converted; his entrance to the abby was just the next step in his life; a life that was always one of faith and belief. It was a wonderful introduction, and I got a very real sense that Peters knew her character to his bones, understood him, and wanted to make sure his readers did too.

As for the stories themselves, the first one, A Light on the Road To Woodstock, does indeed take place before Cadfael's entrance into the abbey. In takes place as he returns to England for the first time after the wars, facing imminent unemployment, and looking to move on to a new phase in his life, though he doesn't know yet what it might be. His last assignment for the lord who employs him takes him to Richmond during a court dispute with the Shrewsbury Monastery. Here he meets the Prior of the Abbey and is confronted with a mystery concerning the Prior's disappearance.

This is not a fair play story; the mystery is solved by Cadfael's observance of the people he knows and the human nature he's familiar with, but he does not share those observances with the reader. Still, it's a lovely introduction to the man, and the story is a good one.

The second, my favorite of the three, is The Price of Light, the Christmas story. Here Cadfael has been a monk for 15 years. A man of means, whose life has been a waste, is beset by ill health and realises he must do something to 'earn' his redemption (read: buy it, as cheaply as possible). He gifts Shrewsbury Abbey with the rent from one of his holdings, and a pair of beautiful silver candlesticks, both for the betterment and maintenance of their Lady Chapel. The gifts are made on Christmas Eve, but on Christmas Day, the candlesticks have been stolen.

What follows is far more of a fair play mystery, with Cadfael poking about, observing, finding clues and sharing most of it with the reader. The plot is pretty good for a short form mystery, and the story itself is just really lovely. Ellis Peters understood the true grace that lies behind Christianity and faith, and she writes it beautifully - never, ever preaches it - but Cadfael and most of his brothers are written in a way that is consistent to both true Christianity and humanity, and the struggle between the two is a never-ceasing one.

The last story, Eye Witness, is a much more bog-standard short story mystery. It falls back on a few of the standard tropes. Man goes out to collect the rents, is bashed on the head and robbed, thrown into the river to drown, rescued, and cannot shed any light on who tried to kill him. His son is a suspect, of course, and Cadfael gleans the truth not only through observation, but by the time-worn tradition (in mysteries) of laying a trap!

The most pedestrian of the three, it's still a good story, and adds to the fuller picture of life at Shrewsbury.

My edition was done by Mysterious Press, and if you're a Cadfael fan who does not yet own this, I recommend it highly, both for the stories and the charm of the edition itself. ( )
  murderbydeath | Jan 27, 2022 |
A short story collection that reveals Cadfael's first interaction with the monks of Shrewbury. ( )
  kevn57 | Dec 8, 2021 |
One last visit to Brother Cadfael. A slim book containing 3 short stories written by Ellis Peters about Brother Cadfael's origins. I truly miss this author's works. ( )
  phoenixcomet | Sep 21, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Peters, Ellisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
BascoveCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chwat, SergeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harper, CliffordIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Janssens, PieterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Langowski, JürgenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oka, TatsukoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ooide, KenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pelitti, ElsaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pošustová-Menš… StanislavaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thorne, StephenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
[None]
Dedication
[None]
First words
Brother Cadfael sprang to life unexpectedly when he was already approaching sixty, mature, experienced, fully armed and seventeen years tonsured.

Introduction.
The King's court was in no hurry to return to England, that late autumn of 1120, even though the fighting, somewhat desultory in these last stages, was long over.

A light on the road to Woodstock.
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Three short stories : A light on the road to Woodstock ; The price of light ; Eye witness.
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Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Fiction. Mystery. Historical Fiction. HTML:

"Three classic stories featuring Brother Cadfael . . . whose powers of deduction are practically miraculous" in the Silver Dagger??winning medieval mystery series (Booklist).
"Brother Cadfael sprang to life suddenly and unexpectedly when he was already approaching sixty, mature, experienced, fully armed and seventeen years tonsured." So writes Ellis Peters in her introduction to A Rare Benedictine??three vintage tales of intrigue and treachery featuring the monastic sleuth who has become the best-loved ecclesiastical detective since Father Brown.

Although Cadfael has appeared in twenty novel-length chronicles, the story of his entry into the monastery at Shrewsbury has been known hitherto only to a few readers. Now his myriad fans can discover the chain of events that led him into the Benedictine Order

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Consists of three short stories:

A Light on the Road to Woodstock (1120)

The Price of Light (1135)

Eye Witness
Haiku summary

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Hachette Book Group

2 editions of this book were published by Hachette Book Group.

Editions: 0446400882, 0892963972

 

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