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Book Review

 

    Brother Cadfael:   

Image: portion of illuminated manuscript page from "The Book of Kells."

Photo: Sir Derek Jacobi as "Brother Cadfael."

Sir Derek Jacobi plays Brother Cadfael in the PBS Series

Image: Monk Illuminating a Manuscript.

The 21 Brother Cadfael Books Are:

Note: Book Titles followed by a (V) (for Video) have been made into Films (see Brother Cadfael: the PBS Series.

Prequel: 

 A Rare Benedictine (Three Short Stories; one about how Cadfael became a Monk.)

Numbered Series:

1. A Morbid Taste for Bones (V)

2. One Corpse Too Many (V)

3. Monk's Hood (V)

4. St. Peter's Fair (V)

5. The Leper of St. Giles (V)

6. The Virgin in the Ice (V)

7. The Sanctuary Sparrow (V)

8. The Devil's Novice (V)

9. Dead Man's Ransom 

10. The Pilgrim of Hate (V) This is the one book that was half  re-written for the Video.  Big mistake.  The Book is much better.

11. An Excellent Mystery

12. The Raven in the Foregate (V)

13. The Rose Rent (V)

14. The Hermit of Eyton Forest

15. The Confession of Brother Haluin

16. The Heretic's Apprentice

17. The Potter's Field (V)

18. The Summer of the Danes

19. The Holy Thief (V)

20. Brother Cadfael's Penance ___________________

Brother Cadfael Book Series

Author: Ellis Peters

Because so many of you are watching the (PBS) Public Broadcasting Series starring the Award-winning Sir Derek Jacobi as Brother Cadfael, we felt that we should Review the Series of Cadfael Novels on which the Films are based.

Image: Viking ships.

Before there was a Film Series, there first were the "Brother Cadfael" Novels by Ellis Peters

The 13 Films are based on the best-selling  Brother Cadfael books by Ellis Peters (which was the pen-name of Edith Pargeter), an excellent writer who, for most of her life, wrote mysteries other than those having to do with the beloved monk, Brother Cadfael.  Later in life, Peters began writing the Brother Cadfael Series of medieval, monkish, detective mystery novels.   She wrote 21 Books (20 Novels and one book containing 3 Short Stories) in which Brother Cadfael is the central character, before she passed on.

Crusader Turned Monk

The time is the 1100's.  Brother Cadfael is a former Crusader (of Welsh background) who has fought in the Middle East from his youth, and "taken the cowl late in life" as a Benedictine Monk. His Abbey, that of St. Peter and St. Paul, is located in Shrewsbury, in western England near the Welsh Border.

Historically Accurate Setting

The background of the books (and many of the characters in them) are meticulously researched and historically accurate: their setting is the time of Civil War in England between King Steven and the Empress Maud.  You can actually go to Shrewsbury and see the ruins of the ancient Abbey.  Elisabeth Peters lived her whole life near Shrewsbury.  The main characters and their stories are fictional.  Brother Cadfael is the Herbalist of his monastery, and solves murder mysteries as a medieval monk detective.  ________________________________

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Plan of Salvation ________________________________

The Real "Abbey of St. Peter and St. Paul":

Those who have watched the Brother Cadfael PBS Series or read the Brother Cadfael Novels will want to visit the real Abbey of St Peter and St. Paul in Shrewsbury:

Shrewsbury Abbey ____________________________________

Copyright 1977-1991 by Ellis Peters.  All Rights Reserved. ____________________________________

Published by The Mysterious Press; Warner Books; A Time Warner Company. __________________________________________

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Image: The Prayer Foundation logo (white Celtic cross on a green shield).

Image: Front Cover of the Brother Cadfael Book, "A Rare Benedictine."

Cover Design (and Illustrations) by Bascove.

Not available through Christianbook.com ______________________________

Sometimes Scriptural: Sometimes Not

Each Book has a certain moral to it, and often Brother Cadfael sums it up in a final statement.  The problem is, the "morals" run the gamut from pure quoting of scripture: "man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart." (The Leper of St. Giles) to decidedly un-biblical (in The Rose Rent, Cadfael advocates "mercy killing" for a terminally ill patient who is experiencing terrible pain).

Summary: 

 The Brother Cadfael Mystery Novel Series are excellently written books.  Of course, the practices and beliefs of the Monks of Tenth Century Shrewsbury are of historical necessity Pre-Protestant Reformation, (also Pre-Council of Trent and Pre-Vatican II!).  Brother Cadfael, "a good man in an evil world," usually a very inspiring Christian that one can look to as an example, every once in a while makes a statement that we consider in error as to Bible teaching. Aside from these flaws, they are very enjoyable to read, highly entertaining and can at times even be inspiring.

Those of you who have watched the Videos over and over again, may want to read the many stories that were never filmed (those without the (V) for Video in our list in the far left column of this page). ______________________________

Our Conclusion:

USE DISCERNMENT: These are Not Books of Christian Teaching, but are works of Secular Fiction, and as such must be read with Spiritual Discernment. ______________________________

Related Pages:

 Copyright 2002 S.G.P. All rights reserved.    

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