It is A.D. 1141. A year that brings a tide of pilgrims to the Abbey.
This is the tenth mystery in the series. You may want to start from the first to let the interacting mysteries reveal themselves in chronological order. This is the second one for me after "The Morbid Taste for Bones." I do have to warn you that the synopsis to "A Morbid Taste for Bones" and "Virgin in the Ice" is played out again somewhat in the first two chapters of this book.
What can not be portrayed in the short Cadfael movies and would make marvelous reading on its own is the inter action between the forces and reasons behind the vacillating positions of Empress Maud and King Stephen. This is also a crucial part of the story; as the loyalties and logistics play a major part in the mystery and people's lives.
I will not compare and contrast the people in the story or the differences in the film adaptation as the fun is finding out for your self, all the actions and interaction of people. I will say that none of this would have been possible with out the grace of St. Winifred.