Friday, October 23, 2009

The Hermit of Eyton Forest - Ellis Peters

the hermit of eyton forest
ellis peters
c. 1987
224 pages
completed 10/22/2009

read for: brother cadfael chronicles

*may contain spoilers*

It is the autumn of 1142 and Richard Ludel has died, leaving his ten year old son Richard, currently a pupil at Shrewsbury Abbey, lord of Eaton Manor. Richard's grandmother, Dame Dionisia, wants Richard to return home immediately and marry the daughter of the lord of the adjacent manor (a girl twelve years Richard's senior), thus extending their land and power. Richard wants none of this, and with the support of Abbot Radulfus opts to stay at the abbey to complete his schooling, leaving his manor in the able hands of his steward, a choice the infuriates Dionisia. Meanwhile, a hermit and his servant boy comes to live on Richard's manor, and a man hunting his runaway villein takes up lodging at the abbey. Soon, this man is found dead in the forest, the hermit's servant boy runs off, and Richard goes missing. Cadfael and Hugh must untangle these seemingly unrelated threads to discover the murderer.

I think during the last couple reviews of these Cadfael books, I had begun to complain about the shift from the initial structure of the mysteries, but this one is right back to what I like. A murder occurs that is directly related to the abbey in some way (in this instance the victim was their guest), and both Hugh and Radulfus look the Cadfael for the answers. Cadfael befriends someone who's identity no one else can know, and helps two people fall in love. Classic.

There was a lot going on in this book. There were several mysteries that seemed to be completely unrelated to each other, but by the end we saw how everything was connected. I always love young mischievous boys, so Richard was great fun. My only complaint was the hermit's servant boy. How can you take a boy seriously who's name is Hyacinth?

Glad these books seem to be back on track. I wish there were hundreds of them.


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