To save his estranged son, a monk risks breaking his vows in this “moving and suspenseful” entry in the Silver Dagger Award–winning medieval mystery series (Booklist).
For Brother Cadfael in the autumn of his life, the mild November of our Lord’s year 1145 may bring a bitter—and deadly—harvest. England is torn between supporters of the Empress Maud and those of her cousin Stephen. The civil strife is about to jeopardize not only Cadfael’s life, but his hopes of Heaven.
While Cadfael has sometimes bent the abbey’s rules, he has never broken his monastic vows—until now. Word has come to Shrewsbury of a treacherous act that has left thirty of Maud’s knights imprisoned. All have been ransomed except Cadfael’s secret son, Olivier de Bretagne. Conceived in Cadfael’s soldiering youth and unaware of his father’s identity, Olivier will die if he is not freed. Like never before, Cadfael must boldly defy the abbot. The good brother forsakes the order to follow his heart—but what he finds will challenge his soul.
In Brother Cadfael's 20th chronicle, Peters deftly binds the medieval monk's new adventure with family ties, moving from issues intensely public to problems determinedly private. Olivier de Bretagne, who (unknown to himself) is Brother Cadfael's son, has been taken prisoner during England's dynastic war between two grandchildren of William the Conqueror. Cadfael is determined to find Olivier, although to do so he must leave the monastery without his abbot's ``leave or... blessing.'' The search begins badly when, at an unsuccessful peace conference, Yves Hugonin, Olivier's hot-headed brother-in-law, picks a fight with Brien de Soulis, a commander who may know where Olivier is held-but won't say. When Brien is found murdered, Yves is abducted by one who holds him responsible for the killing, and then Cadfael has two men to find. In the process, he delicately explores puzzles related to Brien's death and to shadowy deeds in the larger political scene. While Cadfael does his usual excellent sleuthing, Peters succeeds at an equally subtle game, demonstrating how personal devotion can turn to enmity-and how such enmity can be forestalled by justice and mercy. Mystery Guild selection.