"It's a strange thing ... all the years I worked for William, and travelled with him, and listened to him, I never truly gave any thought to these things until now. They never bothered me. They do now, ..."
The sixteenth chronicle of Brother Cadfael sees the return to Shrewsbury from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land of the body of a dead master and that of his live servant, whose words to Cadfael are quoted above. The things the servant refers to are a matter of life and death. As he later would say to his master's daughter, "... heresy can be cried against anyone who offends his neighbour, so easy is it to accuse when there are those willing to condemn for a doubt, for a question, for a word out of place."
Ellis Peters maintains her strict historical accuracies. It's good to see a distinction made between a Seljuk Turk and a Saracen. And there are timely references to Abelard and to the Cathars.
Call me thick, but the plot kept me guessing as far as chapter thirteen. The plot is not perfect, for there are some problems over timings, but it was a good read all the same.
(As a bit of a diversion, it was whilst reading this novel that I noted how Ellis Peters seems to have a `thing' about the height of her characters. For a period when men and women were supposed to be smaller than average, there are a remarkable number of characters who are tall. Abbot Radulfus and Prior Robert are "two tall men, much of a height"; Gerbert, the Augustinian canon of Canterbury was "a man almost as tall"; Brother Winfrid is "a hefty, blue-eyed young giant"; "Jevan of Lythwood was ... tall, erect and lightly built." And so on. And this only takes us up to page 46.)