Brother Cadfael

A fun read for me last week was A Rare Benedictine, by Ellis Peters. The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael is one of my favorite mystery series, so I was delighted to find this small volume in the library. For those of you that have never had the pleasure of meeting Brother Cadfael, he’s worth getting to know. A medieval Welsh monk, an herbalist at Shrewsbury, the Benedictine Abbey in Shropshire, and a shrewd observer of human nature, Brother Cadfael is quite a brilliant sleuth.

This is a book of three short stories that take place in time years before the series begins. In the introduction, Ellis Peters (Edith Pargeter) describes the creation of this character:

“Brother Cadfael sprang to life suddenly and unexpectedly when he was already approaching sixty, mature, experienced, fully armed and seventeen years tonsured. He emerged as the necessary protagonist when I had the idea of deriving a plot for a murder mystery from the true history of Shrewsbury Abbey in the twelfth century and needed the medieval equivalent of a detective, an observer and agent of justice in the centre of the action.” 

I particularly enjoyed the first of the three stories because it was the story of how Cadfael gave up his often violent crusading and seafaring life and entered the monastery at Shrewsbury, which appears to be a much quieter, less violent life…except for the occasional puzzles of murder and mischief he must solve!

Another way to enjoy this series is to watch the BBC Mystery series on DVD, starring the wonderful Sir Derek Jacobi as Brother Cadfael. And for those of you that garden and love roses, there is a beautiful heirloom rose named “Brother Cadfael” that would be lovely in your garden. This is a very enjoyable reading series, and I highly recommend it.

11 thoughts on “Brother Cadfael

  1. raidergirl3

    I loved this series. What a great bunch of mysteries and view of life in 12th century England. Thanks for the reminder.


  2. iliana

    My mom is a huge fan of the BBC series – I’ve had to get her the DVDs. I’ve watched a couple of the episodes and have loved them. I still haven’t gotten to the books but one day.


  3. Lucy

    Thank you so much for visiting my blog. I’m hoping to get alot of visitors on it as I do on my crafty blog. I’ll put yours on my “must read” list.


  4. Robin

    Thanks, Raidergirl,
    It’s really a fun series, isn’t it? I haven’t read the entire series, but have enjoyed every book I’ve read so far.

    Iliana, we’ve watched a few of the DVDs, and have more on our queue! The books are really fun, and Ellis Peters really knew her stuff about the Middle Ages and, of course, about her beloved Shropshire.

    Lucy, thanks for stopping by. It was nice to find your new reading blog, and I really liked your idea about being “bookends” around the books you read.


  5. Gentle Reader

    I really liked the BBC series! My mom and I watched it together, and both enjoyed it. Maybe I’ll get her the books, and she’ll lend them to me 🙂


  6. Cath

    I read nearly all of the Cadfael books years ago but your post is making me want to reread them all again! My favourite was Virgin in the Ice as I like stories set in winter with lots of snow and ice. But they are all good. I particularly love the idea of an England that is still nearly all forested. I loved the TV series too by the way, Derek Jacobi was superb as Cadfael.

    I’m a new visitor to your blog and enjoying it very much.


  7. Robin

    Heather, I thought they did a really good job with the series–they’re really fun to watch. Derek Jacobi is a perfect Cadfael!

    Gentle Reader, I agree…the roses are gorgeous. If I had my own garden, I’d try planting some. I like the idea of Moms sharing books. Mom and I do that a lot.

    Thanks, Cath. How nice to have you visit my blog. I haven’t read Virgin in the Ice yet, but am looking forward to it. I really enjoy them.


  8. Jill

    I think the fact that Derek Jacobi played Brother Cadfael brought the BBC series up to the same level of enjoyment for me as the books themselves provided.



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