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The author Peter Tremayne obviously has a great knowledge of Ireland in the 7th century and also on Irish Law. His Sister Fidelma book are attracting what can only be described as a cult following, but they are of interest to anyone who likes historical novels or mysteries. This series of books are set in Ireland in the 7th century, a time when there was total equality for women. The lead character is the beguiling Sister Fidelma. She is a brilliant scholar, a leading authority on Irish law and the sister of a king.

Sister Fidelma is attending an ecclesiastical conclave at Whitby in the year 664. While she is there a major proponent of the Celtic way of religion is murdered. Fidelma a fellow follower of the Celtic way is asked to investigate. She is paired with the ideological opposite, Brother Eadulf on the Roman side. Eadulf is shrewd well educated and smitten with the sister.

In an age before celibacy had become a part of religious life, intellectual and physical sparks fly between the two clerics and when two monks are also killed the plot thickens . . .
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on 21 January 2002
This book is one of the most addictive I've read. Peter Tremayne's knowledge of the Celtic world has allowed him to create a set of characters which are extremely vivid and life-like. By mixing in historical characters such as King Oswy of Northumbria, and by setting it during the Synod of Whitby, his story becomes even more realistic. The plot is as exciting as it is historically detailed. In 664 AD at the Synod of Whitby reprentatives of the Roman and Celtic churches met to decide if the North of England should follow the rule of Rome or Columba (the Celtic church). Before the debate starts the main speaker of the Celtic church is murderd. Suspicion falls on the Roman faction, but is it that simeple? Fidelma thinks not. Another murder follows and it looks like it's been solved, but then another murder is committed and Fidelma must finally confront the killer in true 'Agatha Christie drawing-room' style. I could tell you the whole plot, but I won't - GO BUY THIS BOOK!! Highly recommended. Keep up the good work Mr Tremayne.
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The author Peter Tremayne obviously has a great knowledge of Ireland in the 7th century and also on Irish Law. His Sister Fidelma book are attracting what can only be described as a cult following, but they are of interest to anyone who likes historical novels or mysteries. This series of books are set in Ireland in the 7th century, a time when there was total equality for women. The lead character is the beguiling Sister Fidelma. She is a brilliant scholar, a leading authority on Irish law and the sister of a king.

Sister Fidelma is attending an ecclesiastical conclave at Whitby in the year 664. While she is there a major proponent of the Celtic way of religion is murdered. Fidelma a fellow follower of the Celtic way is asked to investigate. She is paired with the ideological opposite, Brother Eadulf on the Roman side. Eadulf is shrewd well educated and smitten with the sister.

In an age before celibacy had become a part of religious life, intellectual and physical sparks fly between the two clerics and when two monks are also killed the plot thickens . . .
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In Sister Fidelma Peter Tremayne has created a serious rival for Cadfael's crown ! As one would expect from the pen-name of one of Britain's foremost scholars of the Celtic period, the setting and period details are simply breathtaking in their accuracy and vividness. In the first full-length novel featuring Fidelma, the plot concerns the pivitol Synod of Whitby and the ongoing debate between the Celtic and Roman branches of Christianity, with dark murder and mayhem stalking the synod attendees. It is particularly refreshing to see a fully rounded character in Fidelma, not simply a cypher for the resolution for the mystery. Read this and you will certainly want to read the rest of the excellent series.
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on 14 June 2013
Having completed all the Caedfael novels of Ellis Peters, I was searching for something with the same flavour. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Sister Fidelma, who is the main character in this set of books. As I am an expert on neither religious nor Celtic history, for me the historical setting seemed realistic and compelling. My understanding benefited greatly from Tremayne's knowledge about the council of Whitby and the monastic traditions of earlier times. I was impatient to discover more, and am at present working my way through the series.
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on 20 November 2014
The history is more interesting than the murder story, which I found a little bit predictable. Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading it, because I know very little about this era of church history, and it gave a fascinating insight into the attitudes and disputes of that time. That the decision to follow Rome rather than the Celtic church was a political one came as no surprise, but it was still interesting to get some idea of the process that led to the decision. The characters were well written and believable, too.
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on 26 July 2013
This is not the first book I have read of Peter Tremayne's; the first book of his I ever read, and in fact the vary first novel I ever read, was his The Ants which I brought from my pocket money when I was about 12. How I wish they'd release that book on Kindle.

This is, however, the first of the Sister Fidelma I have ever read, and it is, I believe, the first Sister Fidelma novel of a series of about 24 so far. She's like a female/nun version of Cadfael; a sleuth investigator of murders. Reminds ne a bit of Murder She Wrote.

The novel was a nice easy read, no foul language, no sex scenes, just pure simple a good read.

I agree with one previous reviewer though; the amount of times Sister Fidelma and other character "bit [their] lip" I am surprised anybody had any lips in the end. It seems every other page one character or another "bit his/her lip". Quite funny really.

All in all a nice enjoyable and easy to read novel.

Note on the Kindle version; no proplems at all. One or two 'typos' but few and far between so as not to spoil the reading experience.
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on 20 March 2013
...let alone become the first of a series which apparently confers some prestigious positions and awards upon its author? How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways.

Well, there's the clunky writing, so full of clichés that one could use it as a How-Not-To manual for a creative writing class; the personality-free characters; the repetition; the banal motive for the murder (the perpetrator was clear before the murder even too place) - and, worst of all, the appalling lack of historical knowledge. I'm no expert on what Tremayne anachronistically sees as the conflict between 'the Celtic Church' and 'the Roman Church', but whenever he strays on to territory which I do know something about, he's laughably inaccurate. One character says the rosary roughly 500 years before it was known (and uses the second half of the 'Hail Mary', which was introduced even later); the Angelus (another prayer half a millennium out of place) is said at midnight; monks and nuns pop in and out of each other's bedrooms - etc, etc, etc. He has some very weird ideas about double monasteries, too, and about the discipline of celibacy, not to mention an extraordinary prejudice against the English. (In one particularly laughable scene, there's an eclipse of the sun which the Irish characters shrug off - they're Scientifically Knowledgeable, see - but which terrifies the pore, iggerant Saxon types. It doesn't seem to have occurred to our author that nationality was comparatively unimportant at this period when it came to knowledge of the natural world, as every educated person - and monks of the rank he's writing about were generally well educated - would have known Ptolemy's Almagest.

I won't go on, but only because the book's not worth wasting words on. Had it been possible to give negative stars, this book would have received them, and I resent wasting money putting it on my Kindle (whence it has now been deleted).
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on 23 November 1999
Tremayne is undoubtedly brave in setting such a well-trodden genre as the detective novel in a period which we know so little about, but his huge breadth of knowledge on 7th century Britain and of the Celts means that, whilst reading Absolution by Murder, the first Sister Fidelma novel, one never gets the feeling that these events could not have happened. Without boring the reader, Tremayne paints a detailed and thoroughly convincing canvas of a North British monastery community.
Sister Fidelma is a worthwhile detective, and, whilst occasionally her effasiveness becomes tedious, her character is full of zest and is likeable. Brother Eadulf, the Saxon monk, plays his role of the less-clever-than-the-main-sleuth sidekick well, and (which is a change) he is usually on the same level as Fidelma, finding some stuff out for himself. His character is also well-rounded and lively. The entire cast of characters in this widely-populated novel are almost without exception uniquely-characterised - Tremayne seems to take great pleasure in creating such odd misfits of characters, out of whom we must select the murderer!
The plot of Absolution by Murder is exciting, and the added suspense of a deadline set by the King for Sister Fidelma to unravel the foul murder at hand is well-used. Twists and misdirections abound, the author knows precisely what to do, and how to make the reader believe he or she knows the outcome, before sprining the climactic revelation in a rather anachronistic "Now I'm sure you're all wondering why I brought you all here tonight" gathering at the end.
Well-written and detailed, Ansolution by Murder is a good, light novel which will appeal to both fans of detective fiction and of historical novels. Sister Fidelma will go far.
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on 12 December 2012
This is the first adventure in which I met the intrepid double act. They are called to solve a murder at a church synod in Whitby - I know I had to look it up.

The tensions of early church government are really apparent and fascinating.

Fidelma and Eadulf are so different yet work so well together - two brilliant minds complimenting one another.

No romance is obvious but the 'girlie' part of me just hoped and sure enough, well maybe...

Its a lesson in how to deal with our differences and a reminder that as humans we've always been cruel. It's also a juicy taster for the series as it develops.

A great story.
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