Saturday, March 01, 2014

Ellis Peters. The Hermit of Eyton Forest (1987)

     Ellis Peters. The Hermit of Eyton Forest (1987: #14 in the Cadfael chronicles). Three plot lines: a cruel master hunts for an escaped villein; a fierce matriarch wants to marry her newly orphaned grandson to a neighbouring squire’s daughter in order to consolidate the land; and a bloodied horse indicates the murder of Queen Maud’s messenger. Peters interweaves these with her usual skill, showing how human frailties, vices, and virtues threaten injustice and worse. Cadfael’s skills and his friendship with Hugh Beringar help these plots come to satisfactory conclusions, wherein justice is tempered with mercy, and the law yields to justice. As a puzzle, the mystery ranks low; as a visit to Cadfael’s world it ranks high. We fans of the soldier turned monk and physician like the (somewhat sanitised) version of late medieval history that Peters serves up. *** (2012)

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