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Fantasy Mystery Comics Non-Fiction Fiction

The Devil’s Novice

Sunday, August 26, 2018

The Devil’s Novice (1983) Ellis Peters

Set in England in 1140.

One of the most interesting things about this story was the issue of oblates.

The other two, infant oblates given to God by their parents, are already twelve and ten years old, and are settled and happy among us, it would be ill-done to disturb their tranquillity. But I am not easy in my mind about accepting any more such oblates, when they can have no conception of what they are being offered or, indeed, of what they are being deprived.

I somehow didn’t know prior to reading this book the first time around that young children were given over to the church–and had no say in the matter. That seems a terrible thing, although given the example of brother Mark in the series, there were far worse fates for a child at that time.

In this story, a young man comes to the Abbey to become a brother. He is insistent that this is his wish, but both the Abbot and Cadfael have doubts.

“Those who want a door to close behind them, Hugh, must be either escaping into the world within or from the world without. There is a difference.”

One of the things I love about this series is how I learn about the past in the bits and pieces dropped throughout the tale. Like the bit about oblates above, but also about difficult life was, as this tale mentions in passing about a young boy living at the Hospice who couldn’t walk because he had lost all his toes to frostbite.

How common must have have been for the poor.

Publisher: MysteriousPress.com/Open Road
Rating: 8.5/10

Categories: 8/10, British, Historical, Mystery, Re-Read     Comments (0)    



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