First broadcast in 1992, this is a radio dramatisation of the third Brother Cadfael book by Ellis Peters. The play is 2.5 hours long, and comes on 2 discs in a fold out jewel case.
The novels told the tale of Brother Cadfael, Soldier, sailor and sinner, now a Brother in Shrewsbury abbey at the height of the civil war between King Stephen and Empress Maud, in the mid 12th century. The location and time were well chosen by Peters, as the civil war and Shrewsbury's position close to the sensitive Welsh border provides rich territory for plotting and bloody murder. Bodies keep popping up all over the place, and it falls to the worldly Cadfael, with his knowledge of pathology gained from the battle field and his knowledge of men gained from many years in the world, to solve the crimes and see justice is served.
In this story, a potion that Cadfael has brewed to soothe aching joints is used to murder a man. Cadfael is appalled, not only at the act of murder but that his handiwork, intended for the ease of suffering, should be used to bring about a cruel death. To complicate things, the victim's wife is old flame of Cadfael's, and she turns to him for help when the Sherriff's men set on her son as the most likely culprit. Cadfael is soon deep into an intriguing mystery, which has a beautifully told and memorable climax.
The inestimable Philip Madoc stars as Cadfael, his well rounded Welsh tones perfectly suited for the part. He conveys all the essential elements of the man - the sailor, soldier, sinner turned servant of God, full of compassion for his fellow man and a burning desire to see justice done (even if what he considers to be justice is as odds with the law of the land) with ease in a performance that is warmly comforting, but with a hint of steel hidden just below the surface. It's masterful. In addition there is also Sir Michael Hordern as narrator, his simply beautiful speaking voice managing to set the scene and draw you into the adventure with consummate ease. It's a dry, understated narration that is just perfect, accentuating the emotional heights of the tale by the contrast with it's dry telling.
It's a good solid story, very well told. The production values are very high, nicely evoking a medieval atmosphere. And I could listen to Madoc and Hordern reading telephone directories with their mellifluous voices. So for me this is a 5 star production. As far as I know there are two other Madoc/Cadfael releases out there, Monk's Hood and Dead Man's Ransom. I am off to buy those, and I hope there are more that I have missed waiting for me!
I always enjoy Cadfael stories - this one, I think, is particularly good. The TV adaptation doesn't really do it justice as some of the situations were changed for continuity I guess - but this is a very good yarn.
Good tale with plenty of atmosphere. Cadfael ,monk with a past meets old love and solves mystery of her husbands death.The tale was well tols and the story moved quickly. Used to David Jacobi as Cadfael , from TV series and was unsure whether I would like another actor playing part but it didn't effect my enjoyment.Good listen , highly recommended.