Top critical review
I love the Brother Cadfael novels
on 28 January 2016
I really love the Brother Cadfael novels, but for some reason this was slightly disappointing. I'm sad about that because it was one of the last two I hadn't read; only The Pilgrim of Hate left now and I have read them all...sigh. I'm not sure why but the characters were not quite as engaging as usual, probably entirely my fault because it is an earlier book in the series, the characters are a little less well-rounded, and I really missed the interactions between Cadfael and Hugh, who doesn't appear in this story. Cadfael's relationship with his Abbot is still a trifle shaky, which adds to the feeling of something missing for me, as Radulphus comes over as a rather cold and spiky character, not at all as he appears in the later novels. As I say, my fault for not reading them all in order, which I'd highly recommend if you are just beginning on the saga - start at the beginning and I'd be surprised if you don't find yourself wanting to read them all. Brother Cadfael is a wonderfully wise, canny, down-to-earth and humorous character and certainly grows in stature towards the end. As ever the backgrounds of the Abbey, the leper sanctuary and the town are beautifully portrayed and there is, as ever, a romance as well as a murder to be solved. I think it may well be a book which will engage me more second time around. If you don't want to start at the beginning of the saga - which I honestly believe you should - then read "A Morbid Taste for Bones" which in my humble opinion is the best thing Ellis Peters ever wrote. Sheer genius, and Brother Cadfael at his devious best!