Wednesday, 09 November 2011

The Hermit of Eyton Forest

A Brother Cadfael mystery. I had planned to keep this for my Lethal Location challenge next year, but it turns out this was published in 1988.

This really is a very good example of what I enjoy about the series. There's plenty of real life history in the background, with King Stephen and the Empress Maud battling, in this particular novel they're currently fighting over Oxford. (On a side note, we had a lovely LARP set in this period of time, based on the fight between the King and the Empress, which was inspired by this series.) Plenty of good detecting with a healthy sprinkling of clues that let the reader work it out for themselves, if they're so inclined.

This particular novel is loosely centred on Richard, who's father is now dead. He's the 10-year-old heir to a large chunk of land and his only living relative is his domineering grandmother, who wants to marry him off to more land. Luckily for him he's safe in the keeping of the abbot. And then, a hermit arrives, Richard makes friends with the hermit's errand boy and an abbey guest is murdered. Chaos ensues. Luckily Brother Cadfael is there to solve the mystery, with the help of the sherriff, Hugh Beringar, and thankfully unencumbered by any notion of duty to the law. He can act in whatever way he sees as right. And given this is the 12th century, legal and right aren't always the same thing.

As always, the supporting characters are well-drawn and engaging, as is the mystery. Most importantly, Cadfael isn't annoyingly right all the time and none of the Holy Brethren are without fault (though some are more faulty than others, of course). In short, this is a quick, fun read that's still good despite being fluffy.

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