Fantasy Mystery Comics Non-Fiction Fiction

The Holy Thief

Saturday, July 6, 2019

The Holy Thief (1992) Ellis Peters

The Holy ThiefSet in England in 1144.

The 19th Brother Cadfael book.

Geoffrey de Mandeville, Earl of Essex, is dead. The war rages on, but the Abbot of Ramsey was able to return and assess to damage to his abbey. He then sent out members to call for the return of those who fled, and to ask for assistance in the rebuilding of his all-but-destroyed abbey.

In a country still torn between two rivals for sovereignty, and plagued by numerous uncommitted lords more interested in carving out kingdoms of their own, wise men observed their hospitable duties and opened their houses to all, but waited to examine credentials before opening their minds.

To Brother Cadfael’s abbey comes Sub-Prior Herluin and Tutilo, seeking assistance. He also sees the arrival of a French troubadour seeking a place to over-winter.

We also see the end coming to Donata (who we met in an earlier mystery.

(T)his woman was now so closely acquainted with death that the subtle creaking of the opening door was present in her voice, and the transparent pallor of the bodyless soul in her face.

I really liked that we spend a little time with her at the end of her life. She was a complicated person in the earlier mystery, and it was lovely to see her in her final hours.

But the most fascinating character is the young woman, Daalny, who travels with the troubadour.

“He is a very good poet and minstrel, never think other wise. What I know, he taught me. What I had from God, yes, that is mine; but he showed me its use. If there ever was a debt, that and food and clothing would still have paid it, but there is none. He owes me nothing. The price for me he paid when he bought me.”

He turned to stare her in the face, and judge how literally she meant the words she had chosen; and she smiled at him. “Bought, not hired. I am Rémy’s slave, and better his by far than tied to the one he bought me from. Did you not know it still goes on?”

A not very subtle reminder of what life was actually like at the time.

In this story, Cadfael sees the hand of God (or perhaps Saint Winifred) in a more obvious way than in any other story except perhaps for that of Brother Rhun.

It’s a lovely story–one of my favorites–and is also the last story I read on my previous run-through. So the last two stories will be new-to-me.

Rating: 9/10

Categories: 9/10, British, Historical, Mystery, Re-Read     Comments (0)    

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