"The word is the making of the world." - Wallace Stevens

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Morbid Taste For Bones - Ellis Peters

At last! I have finally read a Brother Cadfael mystery! It's been a literary goal of mine for ages, and I'm embarrassed to admit that I've watched quite a few of the BBC series with Derek Jacobi first. I decided to start at the beginning with the first chronicle, at the recommendation of several people. I haven't watched the television version of this story, so the story's mystery was fresh to me. 12th-century Benedictine monk Brother Cadfael is an ex-Crusader and herbalist, who has retired into monastic life at Shrewsbury Abbey. His quick intellect, keen observation, and compassionate understanding of human nature are his crime solving tools. This particular story chronicles the events that take place when his abbey decides to send a delegation to recover the relics of a Welsh saint. Being Welsh himself, Cadfael goes along as an interpreter. While the characters are fictional, the actual event of St. Winifred being moved from a remote Welsh mountain village to Shrewsbury, England in 1138 is an actual historical event. The only vocal opposition the monks encounter is with one local lord. Before they can come to an understanding he is found dead, having been stabbed in the back with a dagger and then pierced with an arrow in his chest post mortem. This sets the main plot, although there are other lesser dramas happening within the story as well, including a story line that illustrates the animosity between the Welsh and English at the time. It's impossible not to like and admire Cadfael, whose life experiences before taking his monastic vows have given him the poise that enables him to look at a situation from every angle. It might take me a while, but I'm going to read all 20 Cadfael mysteries! And I think I can mooch them from my medieval English professor mother, woot!

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