Monday, August 9, 2010

The Summer of the Danes - Ellis Peters

the summer of the danes
ellis peters
c. 1991
245 pages
completed 8/9/2010

read for: brother cadfael chronicles

*may contain spoilers*

The extraordinary events of that summer of 1144 may properly be said to have begun the previous year, in a tangle of threads both ecclesiastic and secular, a net in which any number of diverse people became enmeshed: clerics, from the archbishop down to Bishop Roger de Clinton's lowliest deacon, and the laity from the princes of North Wales down to the humblest cottager in the trefs of Arfon.

Brother Mark, who once was Brother's Cadfael assistant in the abbey's herb garden, has gone on to become a deacon to Bishop Roger de Clinton and has been sent as an envoy to the newly appointed Bishop Gilbert in the North of Wales. Needing an interpreter, his old mentor Cadfael is allowed to accompany him. But what should have been a quick and pleasant foray in Wales quickly turns more deadly Cadfael and Mark find themselves thrust into the middle of warring brother princes and foreign invaders.

I think this has to be my least favorite installment in the Brother Cadfael mysteries simply because there was no mystery. I mean, someone was murdered, but no one really cared too much because of the immediate threat of war. In the last chapter there is a deathbed confession by the murderer, but by that time you'd kind of forgotten who it was that had been murdered so you really didn't care. And Cadfael was really in no way involved. I think I've said it before, but I really like the formulaic nature of the earliest episodes and the ones that stray from that formula aren't nearly as good.

I also had a big problem with the lovers in this edition. In each mystery, there are always two people who are already in love or who fall in love that Cadfael kind of has to help out, and normally they're incredibly endearing and worthy of Cadfael's devotion. Occasionally there have been a few that have taken some time for me to warm up to, but eventually they always win me over. Not this time. Heledd was frosty and malicious towards her father (though I do agree she had some cause for this) and even kind of mean to Brother Mark in the beginning. And I love Brother Mark. There is no need to go out of your way to make him uncomfortable just because you think it's funny.

So to sum up there was no real mystery and an unsatisfactory love story. I did enjoy learning more about Prince Owain of Gwynedd and his family, but that's not enough. Sad.


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