A Rare Benedictine (Cadfael Series)

Monday, April 24, 2017


A Rare Benedictine (Cadfael Series)
Ellis Peters, 1988 (Kindle version 2014)

Premise: Collects three short stories from across the series' timeline, including the account of when Cadfael joins the monastery.

I love Cadfael, and when I recently needed a quick comfort read, I knew this wouldn't disappoint. However, if you're looking for a dramatic turn of events to drive Cadfael the crusader to the Benedictine order, you won't find it here.

The first story, "A Light on the Road to Woodstock," is the account in question. Given the character as revealed throughout the series, it would be surprising if Cadfael had some supernatural or esoteric revelation.

In the introduction to this volume, in fact, the author describes the decision as analogous to the way some people (more common in certain times and cultures) simply find they have reached another phase in life and choose to renounce the world in some way.

As it is, it's a lovely story in which the Welsh man-at-arms (described as blunt, insubordinate, and an utterly reliable man of his word) accompanies an English nobleman home after fighting in Normandy under Henry I. Said noble faces a land dispute with the Shrewsbury Abbey. While Cadfael will, of course, protect the noble's safety to the best of his ability as he has been asked, his private judgment as to the rightness and fairness of the actors in the disagreement will hold great import by the end.

The second story in the volume, "The Price of Light," is a Christmas tale that I read previously in The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries. I liked it then; I like it now.

The third, "Eye Witness," is basically a shortened version of a Cadfael novel. It has all the red herrings, dramatic reveals, and unique characters, plus a bit more of a final punchline.

This volume is short, and it felt even shorter because I had already read the second story. The publisher even padded the end of the Kindle file (from 63% on!) with a good portion of the beginning of A Morbid Taste for Bones.

I still enjoyed what there was here, but I wish there had been a bit more material.

3 Stars - A Good Book

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