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Brother Cadfael's Penance (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #20)
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Brother Cadfael's Penance (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #20)

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  2,195 ratings  ·  101 reviews
The cloistered walls of the Shrewsbury Abbey have protected Brother Cadfael from the raging Civil War. But when Cadfael's own son--born from a brief encounter 30 years earlier--is taken prisoner, the good monk decides to leave the monastery to find his son. Twentieth in a phenomenally bestselling series by an award-winning author.
Hardcover, 292 pages
Published 1994 by Mysterious Press
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Tiffany Wacaser
Who would have thought that a mystery book would make me cry? But cry I did. The book was simply a lovely end to a delightful mystery series. Brother Cadfael, the main character and a Benedictine Monk has to make a hard decision when he discovers his son has been captured by an enemy. If he strays too far from the dictates his leader has given, he could be in danger of losing his chosen vocation as a Benedictine monk. He loves his service as a monk, but his call to see after his son is equally p ...more
Nancy
Excellent, outstanding conclusion to one of my favorite series of all time. The previous book, Holy Thief, is an effective conclusion to Cadfael's story in Shrewsbury. This book is the conclusion of Cadfael's personal story. It's set outside of Shrewsbury as Cadfael travels, without leave or sanction, to find Olivier. Cadfael has often played a bit fast and loose with the rules but he has never broken his vows to the Order. He does so now because he believes that Olivier takes precedence. It's n ...more
Lisa
The last in the series of 20, all good, most very good, and this comes to a truly satisfying ending. Peters has created a masterpiece in this series--characters are complex and one is eager to see them again after they are introduced; plots (although I read the books practically back-to-back) are not repetitive; the history is accurate and interestingly presented; Brother Cadfael is someone you wish were a personal friend. And religion is presented well, woven into life, with some theologizing h ...more
Michael Carlson
Sad to say but this is the final book in the Cadfael series by Ellis Peters. I've enjoyed every single one of them. My worry in this one was whether the series would end with the now-65-year-old Cadfael dying! The plot suggested it could well have been a possibility! Cadfael offers himself as ransom to release his son (whom he had only recent discovered having in his days before the cloister!).
Without giving any more away, this novel is wonderful, a fitting conclusion to a great series.
D.w.
I have reviewed many of these in this series in the last few days as I try to finish the series before the end of 2008. Well one to go, but after this, the penultimate, can it get better? If you can get past that there is little need for a mystery, for the body is truly a device to continue the action of what is a first rate historical.

We have spent twenty tales with Cadfael and Hugh and the others of the times. We have Bishop de Clinton, and Earl Beaumont, and even King Stephen. Now we meet Emp
...more
Kathryn
This is the last mystery novel of Brother Cadfael’s adventures (there is a book of three short stories, or novellas, which I shall read next), and I am sorry to bid Brother Cadfael adieu; but this particular mystery is a very good one, and deals with a crisis of competing values for our good Benedictine. I very much enjoyed this book, and hope to read it again (with the other nineteen books in the series) in another ten years or so.

It is the spring of 1145, and the maneuvering between the forces
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Jack
I have just finished reading "Brother Cadfael's Penance", the 20th Chronicle of the Welsh monk from Shrewsbury. Sadly there shall be no 21st Chronicle.

There was a special note at the beginning of "Penance" that explained that as the book was going to press the author, Edith Pargeter (Ellis Peters), had passed away.

I had come late to these Medieval mysteries. Though the first book had been published in 1977, I hadn't discovered Cadfael until the early 1990s. I would pick up a copy here and one t
...more
Sue
In the on-going feud between King Stephen and Empress Maud, the castle at Faringdon changed hands to Stephen's forces. Most of the men taken captive were offered for ransom, but there were a few whose whereabouts were unknown. Among them, Olivier de Bretagne, Cadfael's son. Hugh brings him the news. A joint council is to be convened in a neutral site for the purpose of seeking a peaceful resolution to the on-going conflicts. Cadfael requests, and is granted, permission to leave the Abbey in ord ...more
Ron
Don't read this book unless you have read all the other Cadfael stories you plan to read. For starters, you won't appreciate it, but mostly because events take place here which will spoil the rest of the series.

That said, this my be the best book of the lot.

Cadfael series: excellent historical fiction. Ellis Peters draws the reader into the twelfth century with modern story telling but holds us there with a richness of detail which evokes a time and place which might as well be mythic. Though th
...more
Chris Fitzgerald
As usual with Peters, it's more about the characters and the way they interact than it is about plot. While this tale is full of both, the best thing about it is that it's not painted in black and white; characters that initially appear to be unlikeable turn out to be more likeable once you understand them better (and vice versa). While the battle scenes and inherent action they bring weakens the sauce a little, it's still a fitting end to a brilliant series, and fans of the previous books won't ...more
Meghan
I've enjoyed reading through the Brother Cadfael series and am sorry to get to the end of it. Peters' writing is superb to the very end. I was glad to tie up some loose ends in the series. There's a couple sections I wanted to quote b/c it gives and example of the writing I've really come to enjoy.

"So he took his problem rather to the high altar, directly to the source of all strength, all power, all faithfulness, and for once he was not content to kneel, but prostrated himself in a cross on th
...more
Shari
Early 12th century England, Empress Maud and King Stephen are disputing the rightful occupancy of the English throne. Noble houses are contending against one another on opposing sides of the dispute. Families are rent apart, upholding opposite sides of the conflict. The subjects of the monarchy, whoever might win, are at the whim of warfare. Land goes unworked, men are taken from their occupations, their families, their land, to fight the ongoing war.

Brother Cadfael's son, Olivier de Bretagne,
...more
Sharon
Brother Cadfael hears of the treasonous turn of Phillip FitzRobert who has imprisoned 30 knights and squires who had held firm to the empress. Among those whose whereabouts were unknown, is Brother Cadfael's own son, Olivier. Bro. C gets leave to attend a "peace conference" between King Stephen and Empress Maud in hopes of finding and securing the release of his son. He becomes embroiled in plots and counter-plots as the two factions struggle to overcome the other, finally finding Olivier and wo ...more
Ann
As always Ellis Peters draws the reader into the historical setting of King Stephen and Empress Maud's battle for control of England in the mid 1100's. Brother Cadfael finds himself on a quest to find his son who he fathered years earlier when he was young and lonely ... during his participation in the Crusades in the Holy Land. Along the way he solves a murder and helps to bring about a reconciliation between another father and son ... and finds his way back to his beloved Benedictine abbey in ...more
Valerie
This edition begins with a tip-in preface, announcing the death of Ellis Peters in 1995. The book was in final stages of publication, and the news of her death arrived, the preface says, after it was too late to change the capsule biography at the end.

Which is not why I didn't read this until I'd read and reread the rest of the series (except A Rare Benedictine, which I've left to the end). I didn't read it because I knew it was the last, and I didn't want the series to end.

And there's no real
...more
David
Jul 08, 2008 David rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historical mystery buffs
Brother Cadfael novels have been set against the backdrop of the war between cousins King Stephen and Empress Maud for control of England during the twelfth century. Yet this struggle itself is not usually a central aspect of the Cadfael stories. In this, the twentieth Brother Cadfael novel (and alas, the last), the struggle is a major theme that helps drive the story forward, and Peters uses it masterfully.
A peace conference has been arranged by the archbishops at Coventry to bring an end to th
...more
P.d.r. Lindsay

The best of historical novel writers take you into another world which is so real that you think it is the true world of whatever era the writer is taking you to. You can smell, touch and taste it, hear the voices and see the faces.

All the Brother Cadfael novels are like that.

Ellis Peters was one of the authors who made historical novels popular, and almost single handedly brought the historical mystery into the popular realm. Whether you agree with her version of the 12thC political and religi
...more
Gwyn
There's nothing outstanding about Brother Cadfael's Penance--nothing more so than any other Cadfael book, at leadt--except that it is, in many ways, so different than most Cadfael books. After you've read a lot of them, as I have, you start to see a very definite pattern. There's usually a young man wrongly accused of murder, who must go on the run, and a case of love-at-first-sight between the fugitive and lovely young woman, who usually winds up helping him--and of course, they get married or ...more
Darlene
I didn't want this book to finish. This is the last of the Cadfael series. I still have several more in series to complete but it came early with my library requests. I was not disappointed. I have fallen for Cadfael in a bad way, rooting for him at all turns and seeing him as a great detective. I highly recommend this to all mystery fans.
Tim
This is the last book in the series. I'm going to miss it. This was the last book the author wrote; she died soon after at the age of 82. I don't know if she knew it would be her last, but this book wraps up the Cadfael series beautifully.

While this is a series of murder mysteries, the mystery in this book takes a back seat to the story about Cadfael himself. After reading 19 books focused on murders, focusing finally on the character that was central to all of them is particularly satisfying.
Therese
Absolute delight. Don't know why it took me so long to read the last book in this 20 book series. This author never weakened in her writing and plots throughout the series, where so many other series feel like the author is following a formula after about the fifth book. Maybe I will start over again.
Debbie Howell
Feb 09, 2008 Debbie Howell rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Britmysteryphiles, liturgical types, medieval history fans
Sadly, the last of the Brother Cadfael series (#20). A good way to end it, though. Although this book didn't sweep me off my feet, I enjoyed it, and as usual it was elegantly written and included interesting historical details. It always takes me a little while, though, to remember what's going on in terms of the fighting going on in England during the 12th century--Peters is a little murky in catching readers up on this, I think. If you read them one after the other I'm sure it makes more sense ...more
Megan
Jun 29, 2011 Megan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who read "Virgin in the Ice" and "Pilgrim of Hate".
It's always sad to see a book series end, and this was no exception. It doesn't feel like the end of a series, and Ellis Peters explores some interesting new themes with this one. I was lovely to see a few particular characters reappear. The two plots are laid out clearly, without fuss or muddling. And unlike other books, where the inner struggle seems forced or overwrought, Peters does an excellent job of making it real to the audience - making it understood why Cadfael is upset and how it affe ...more
Carol Horne
Ellis Peters is the pseudonym of the authoress Edith Pargeter. That said, this book belongs in the series about Brother Cadfael, a Benedictine monk with a difference, relating his adventures and his nose for mystery. Charming stories with a fairly good flavour of the 1100s (I think...). The prose flows well and is not too archaic. Nevertheless, even though rollicking good action stories, for me this came across as a bit thin. Good for train journeys and holiday reading, or when you come home in ...more
Deirdre
Cadfael's son Oliver de Bretagne, is captured and there's a refusal to acknowledge where he is and there's no demand for ransom but there are rumours and Cadfael has an opportunity to attend a conference and find out about him. To add to the confusion a contentious nobleman is dead, apparently by Oliver's Brother-in-Law Yves Hugonin, and as usual Cadfael intervenes to help.

Added to that are some serious issues that Cadfael has to deal with about his vocation and his loyalty to the order. I'm sad
...more
Louise G
This is the third of my three favorites in this series. This book sheds light on the past of Brother Cadfael and on his character, while dealing with the many issues that surrounded the civil war of this period in England. We enter the world of the times, and it is a fascinating world. The interplay of church and state, of sovereigns and their servants, of chivalry, of warfare, and of life's struggles all enter in here to create not only a fascinating mystery, but also a glimpse into the times a ...more
Daniel Ribera
I have now finished reading the twenty novels in Ellis Peter's Cadfael Chronicles. I have thoroughly enjoyed Edith Pargeter's (Ellis Peter's) excellent historical writing. Brilliant fusion of history and mystery novel. Cadfael is a wonderfully developed character. This current book, Brother Cadfael's Penance has to be my favorite. To say more would be to risk spoiling it for others. As another member has sad, read the series, don't start here. The series is well worth reading and certainly cresc ...more
Terri Reinhart
I have enjoyed all the Brother Cadfael mysteries, but this is definitely the best and an amazing end to the series. In fact, it was published just a year before the author's death. This is a mystery with a conscience. Ellis Peters has said she isn't very good at villains. This doesn't mean she doesn't have villains or that they are not well written. It means we are able to see the complexity of the human souls who commit the crimes. Nowhere is this complexity of human experience seen more than i ...more
Hannah
Rating Clarification: 3.5 Stars
MisterFweem
Though this is the first Brother Cadfael book I've read, Im' very familiar with the stories, having seen many of them on PBS, featuring derek Jacobi as Brother Cadfael.

I won't say much to spoil the plot of this book for those who have not read it. Suffice it to say it's not much of a mystery -- the denouement covers less than a page -- but it does reveal a bit about Brother Cadfael's past and persuasiveness. It also shows that there can still be honor among rivals, something we're lacking a bit
...more
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4046
A pseudonym used by Edith Pargeter.

Edith Mary Pargeter, OBE, BEM (September 28, 1913 in Horsehay, Shropshire, England –October 14, 1995) was a prolific author of works in many categories, especially history and historical fiction, and was also honoured for her translations of Czech classics; she is probably best known for her murder mysteries, both historical and modern. Born in the village of Hor
...more
More about Ellis Peters...
A Morbid Taste for Bones (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #1) One Corpse Too Many (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #2) The Leper of Saint Giles (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #5) Monk's Hood (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #3) St. Peter's Fair (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #4)

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“The voices of cold reason were talking, as usual, to deaf ears.” 11 likes
“In the end there is nothing to be done but to state clearly what has been done, without shame or regret, and say: Here I am, and this is what I am. Now deal with me as you see fit. That is your right. Mine is to stand by the act, and pay the price.

You do what you must do, and pay for it. So in the end all things are simple.”
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