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The First Cadfael Omnibus: A Morbid Taste for Bones, One Corpse Too Many, Monk's-Hood [Paperback]

Ellis Peters
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
Price: £16.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

6 Dec 1990

A MORBID TASTE FOR BONES. In 1137 the head of Shrewsbury Abbey decided to acquire the remains of St Winifred. Brother Cadfael is part of the expedition sent to her final resting place in Wales and they find the villagers passionately divided by the Benedictines' offer for the saint's relics. Canny, wise and all too worldly, Cadfael isn't surprised when this taste for bones leads to bloody murder.

ONE CORPSE TOO MANY. In 1138, war between King Stephen and the Empress Maud takes Brother Cadfael from the quiet world of his garden to the bloody battlefield. Not far from the safety of the Abbey walls, Shrewsbury Castle falls, leaving its ninety-four defenders loyal to the Empress to hang as traitors. With a heavy heart, Brother Cadfael agrees to bury the dead, but discovers ninety-five bodies awaiting his attention.

MONK'S-HOOD. Brother Cadfael's herb garden is flourishing under his care, then a local dignitary is poisoned with one of the herbalist's own concoctions and Cadfael finds he has to defend himself and another suspect whom he is sure is innocent.

Frequently Bought Together

The First Cadfael Omnibus: A Morbid Taste for Bones, One Corpse Too Many, Monk's-Hood + The Second Cadfael Omnibus: Saint Peter's Fair, The Leper of Saint Giles, The Virgin in the Ice: "St.Peter's Fair", "Leper of St.Giles", "Virgin in the Ice" (The Cadfael Chronicles) + The Third Cadfael Omnibus: The Sanctuary Sparrow, The Devil's Novice, Dead Man's Ransom: "Sanctuary Sparrow", "Devil's Novice" and "Dead Man's Ransom"
Price For All Three: £44.51

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Product details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Sphere; New Ed edition (6 Dec 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0751504769
  • ISBN-13: 978-0751504767
  • Product Dimensions: 15 x 23 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 21,349 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A pleasing, and unusual mixture of suspense and historical fiction. (EVENING STANDARD)

Soothing, but no shortage of mayhem. (OBSERVER)

A cult figure of crime fiction. (FINANCIAL TIMES)

Book Description

The first three Brother Cadfael mysteries in one specially designed volume.

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Customer Reviews

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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Monastics and murders 24 May 2005
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was first introduced to Brother Cadfael some years ago by the excellent Sir Derek Jacobi in the ITV series, but these are the first Cadfael books I have read, and I was not disappointed. This omnibus edition contains the first three Cadfael mysteries, so presents excellent value for money as well as being a good read. Briefly, Cadfael, originally from Gwynedd, is the herbalist in a Shrewsbury monastery, having taken the cowl after an adventurous life as a crusader and sea captain. The books are set during the civil wars between King Stephen and the Empress Maud (or Matilda). Real historical events are used to effect in the second story here, One Corpse Too Many, which uses the hanging of the Shrewsbury Castle garrison, a real event, to introduce an extra corpse and a mystery for Cadfael. I enjoyed the mystery aspect of the stories, especially in the third story, Monk's Hood, where a passing knowledge of Welsh Medieval law gained from reading Sharon Penman put me on to the killer, but the mystery or crime itself is not the be all and end all in these books as there is so much more in the characterisation and the historical backdrop to enjoy. I look forward to improving my acquaintance with Brother Cadfael!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning 24 May 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Living in Singapore for several months of the year I rarely get to watch the TV Cadfael, but what I saw intrigued me so I bought the first omnibus. It's Agatha Christie meets Time Team! But better. If you like whodunnits and have a pass for the National Trust (or not) then you'll love Cadfael. Much better than the TV, though it does help to have watched a few episodes to get the feel of the places. I particularly like the detail of monastic life, warts and all. I will certainly look at old ruins in a different light. Peter Ellis uses a lot of detail when describing natural remedies, all interesting stuff. Looking forward to getting the full collection.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Ellis Peters' writing is impeccable. She evokes a magical historical period when men and women were honourable and brave, and believed in justice and truth. A far cry from today's reality. The "who-dunnit" element of her books is really secondary to the rich tapestry of description and dialogue which she weaves as she tells her tale. Stellar.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why are the Cadfael books not on Kindle? 22 April 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My old paperbacks are starting to fall apart through too many readings, so got the set of these, as I cannot get them for my kindle. Still good to read, but are all the hardback stock, so a bit heavy to hold while reading in bed!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 8 Jun 2014
By Obiwan
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Enthralling read. Well written and kept me interested. So much so I have bought the next volume. I keep hearing Derek Jacobi's voice as cadfael though as I watched the TV series first.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The first Cadfael and a great mystery 25 April 2010
As with many books or stories that we get involve with, the characters and their relationships to others in the environment is an important as the mystery. Ellis Peters (Edith Pargeter) strikes a balance between the characters, history and the mystery. Sprinkled throughout is faith, and a chance that they (the monks) may be correct in the explanation of saints and how the world works.

The external environment is the ongoing 11th century civil war between English King Stephen and his sister the Empress Maude. We also have references to the different societies as they travel to Wales. These become more relevant as the series progresses.

The inward struggle between faith and power is depicted as an individual monk is persuaded or wants to be persuaded to go on a mission to retrieve a neglected saint "St. Winifred." She lies in Wales and it happens that Brother Cadfael has a Welsh background, so he is charged with supporting the mission.

If you saw the movie you will immediately see the differences between it and he book. One main point is the fact that the monk was cured before the trip. The best difference is reviled with the detection and solution to the mystery.

One Corpse Too Many: The Second Chronicle of Brother Cadfael
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
We gave it as a birthday present but the recipient seems pleased
Published 22 days ago by ANP
5.0 out of 5 stars Cadfael Omnibus - Ellis Peters
I had all of the Cadfael books a long time ago but they got lost in many house moves. I bought them again as omnibus editions as this was the cheapest way to replace them. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Gillybach
4.0 out of 5 stars I bought this for my wife but she couldn't get on with it
as her first language is not English she needs something written a little more simply - Philippa Gregory for instance. I'm doing fine with it though.
Published 15 months ago by Arthur, Lord Whiteley
5.0 out of 5 stars Love Cadfael
Love Ellis Peters and love Brother Cadfael, someone pinched my copy hence this purchase - what else can I say!
Published 16 months ago by Christine Neatherway
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read!
I was recommended to read this by a friend, and it really is a good read. I got into it slowly, but now I'm hooked! Item arrived quickly and well packaged - thank you.
Published 17 months ago by Mrs S Ainscough
4.0 out of 5 stars Richard
As always with Brother Cadfael, a good read. It made two plane journeys pass with ease. I'll be buying the next omnibus in due course.
Published 19 months ago by R. G. Burrow
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW!
For more detail regarding the actual stories, check out the individual reviews I wrote for them. All I can say is that there are three great stories encapsulated in one volume! Read more
Published on 18 May 2000
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