Book review: The Hermit of Eyton Forest by Ellis Peters

The Hermit of Eyton Forest (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #14)The Hermit of Eyton Forest by Ellis Peters
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have been slowly but faithfully making my way through this series, which is so wonderful. (I am going to be really sad when I’ve finished them all.) I’ve taken only to reviewing ones that are unusual or resonated with me beyond the normal “I love this series” feeling.
This book is one that stood out, not so much for the quality of the mystery but because it gives great insight into how the medieval world valued honor and loyalty. There isn’t much of the medieval world that I’d trade for what we have today (medical care and standard of living come instantly to mind), but I think we could do well to emulate their code of honor.
At any rate, the musings towards the end of the book of the main characters, Brother Cadfael and Hugh Beringar, about what constitutes loyalty and honor are a good reminder of the values we should all live our own lives by.

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Book review: Monk’s Hood by Ellis Peters (Brother Cadfael #3)

Monk's Hood (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #3)Monk’s Hood by Ellis Peters
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This third installment in the Brother Cadfael mysteries lives up to its predecessors. A man is poisoned with one of Brother Cadfael’s concoctions, and his stepson is suspected of his death. Brother Cadfael is the only one who believes in the stepson’s innocence, and he unravels the truth about the murder step by step.
As with the first two mysteries, the period detail is well-researched and accurate, but so well integrated into the book that you do not ever get the sense that you’re reading a history book. The secondary characters are well-rounded and three dimensional. To my delight, one of my favorite characters, Hugh Berengar, who appears in the second mystery, makes an appearance in this book as well.
I’ve been so delighted with this series and am looking forward to reading Brother Cadfael #4!

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Book review: One Corpse Too Many by Ellis Peters

One Corpse Too Many (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #2)One Corpse Too Many by Ellis Peters

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am (belatedly) and slowly making my way through the Brother Cadfael mysteries (and wondering how I missed these for so many years). I really really liked this particular mystery. The book takes place in Shrewsbury as Stephen and Matilda continue their civil war for the right to rule England and Normandy. When Shrewsbury falls to Stephen, he executes the garrison. The Benedictine abbey (of which Brother Cadfael is a member) then buries the dead, only to find that there was an extra corpse that is unaccounted for.
In addition to the mystery, there is not one but two well-developed romances. The mystery is still central to the book, but the secondary characters are especially strong and appealing in this book. And Brother Cadfael is the serene and omniscient hub of all that goes on around him.
An excellent mystery written with well-researched historical detail. I highly recommend it!

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Book review: A Morbid Taste of Bones by Ellis Peters

A Morbid Taste for Bones (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #1)A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have a dim memory of reading this book many years ago and not liking it (I’m not quite sure why). I picked this up (again?) a couple of weeks ago and found myself enjoying it very much.
Brother Cadfael is a Welsh Benedictine monk who is asked to accompany a group of monks to Wales to retrieve a Welsh saint’s bones for their monastery. Naturally, a murder results. And Brother Cadfael–who has a rather unusual background for a monk–sets out to find the murderer. He does so successfully and contrives to further a romance as well.
The book is well-written and the secondary characters are well developed. The plot is tight and convincing as well. The pacing is leisurely (which may be why I wasn’t as enamored all those years ago), but that allows for the atmosphere and period flavor to come through better.
I look forward to reading the second book in the series!

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