Like others, I first knew Cadfael from the TV series, which I thought was tremendous & Derek Jacobi perfect as the main character. But I have only recently got into the books, starting with this omnibus. The series was pretty faithful to the books, although of course it makes some adaptations to the storylines and outcomes, so I can't comment on how surprising the stories are in the books, because after watching the TV series, I had a fair idea of what was going to happen. But that in no way detracted from reading the books, because there are some differences and they were exciting to uncover.
However, Ellis Peters' (Edith Pargeter's) writing is utterly superb. I stand in awe at the beauty of it. She says so much in the most concise and perfectly descriptive way - there isn't a unnecessary word anywhere. All the characters are wonderfuly drawn & well rounded. The period is captured excellently. There's a wonderful ironic sense of humour that runs through the stories. The stories are tightly plotted, with enough twists and turns to keep you interested & even if you can sometimes spot what's coming, you enjoy the journey so much, you keep going. There's nothing gory, gratuitous or offensive, just wonderful writing and storytelling, spiced with interesting murder mysteries and decorated with a fair few romances along the way.
Pargeter's writing is full of the most wonderful & inventive descriptions, from people to places to time period, that are so emotive & evocative, the books a joy to read from start to finish. As a budding writer myself, I sometimes write stories that I think are pretty good. Then I read someone like Ellis Peters & realise how far I have to go to learn this writing craft - it makes me feel like a child holding up their crayon picture to Michael Angelo!
If you needed only one reason to read these books - they are a masterclass in quality writing.