Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Heretic's Apprentice - Ellis Peters

the heretic's apprentice
ellis peters
c. 1990
250 pages
completed 1/9/2010

read for: brother cadfael chronicles

*may contain spoilers*

On the nineteenth day of June, when the eminent visitor arrived, Brother Cadfael was in the abbot's garden, trimming off dead roses.

So begins the sixteenth chronicle of Brother Cadfael. In this latest installment, Elave is newly returned from a pilgrimage with his master to the Holy Land. Upon his return, he is accused of heresy and called before Abbot Radolfus to answer the charges. After the hearing, Radolfus decides the case must be put before Bishop Roger de Clinton, however it will be several days before the Bishop is able to visit Shrewsbury. As they wait for his arrival, Elave's accuser turns up dead and naturally all fingers point to Elave. Who else had such a grudge against the man? Cadfael, who has taken a special liking to Elave, must team up with Sheriff Hugh Beringar to discover if Elave will be facing a murder trial as well as one for heresy.

It took me a little while to read this installment, but I think most of that is due to school starting up again this week so I've been a little busy. Had I not been busy, I probably would have zipped through it.

This was a great episode in the series. I like how even though there are always the same sort of stock figures in each book (most especially in the characters of the lovers), there are enough difference in characterization to not make the reader feel like you're reading the same story over and over. There are enough differences between Elave and say Torold Blund from One Corpse Too Many or Liliwin from The Sanctuary Sparrow to make the reader look at each character as an individual.

I especially enjoyed the theological discussion that made its way into this installment. While these books have Catholic monks at their center, there is often very little discussion of religion. It's very much just a background or setting, not a player in the story. Instead, this time we dove into the issue of heresy and what it meant to question the absolute truth of the Church during this time. There was some discussion of specific Catholic doctrines and specific Catholic writings and figures and I found myself extremely interested in that. It's funny that there is such mention of the writings of St. Augustine because I'm actually taking the History of Christianity as one of m classes this quarter and we're reading his Confessions.

If I haven't said it before, I think everyone should read this series and fall in love with Brother Cadfael. I like to think Cadfael and I could have been BFF.


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