Brother Cadfael's Penance (Brother Cadfael, Book Twenty)

Brother Cadfael's Penance (Brother Cadfael, Book Twenty)
Ellis Peters, 1994

Premise: News comes to Shrewsbury that brings Cadfael to a crisis with his vocation.

I put off reading this one for a while because it's the last one. This series has been reliably enjoyable throughout, but the personal nature of the plot elevates this one to greatness.

Many of the books are about love, some about duty or society. As I expected, this one is about parents.

It's about Philip FitzRobert, who publicly breaks with his father when he switches his loyalty. It's about a mysterious murder in a city at truce that turns on a secret relationship. It features more directly than any other in the series the Empress Maud, daughter of the late king.

Most of all, it hinges on the most emotional recurring plot point of the series: Cadfael's son, Olivier.

Cadfael is faced with a hard choice between his oaths as a Benedictine and a quest to find Olivier, taken captive after a battle. He finds that it is no choice at all, although he fears what will come of it.

For many of these books, the Anarchy is background or only tangentially affects the plot. It is interesting to see the major players close up in this one.

Like most, it's full of excitement and heart, but the emotion runs high in this one. I loved it. I loved seeing all Cadfael's goodness and bravery laid out for a personal cause. It's a delightful capstone for the series.

5 Stars - An Awesome Book


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