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Heretic's Apprentice (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #16)

4.11  ·  Rating Details ·  3,677 Ratings  ·  103 Reviews
In her sixteenth chronicle of the medieval monk-detective Brother Cadfael, Ellis Peters throws a variety of puzzles at her hero. In the summer of 1143, Brother Cadfael is torn from his herbarium to investigate the deaths of two visitors.
Hardcover, 196 pages
Published March 1st 1990 by Mysterious Press (first published 1989)
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Valerie
One of the charms of the Brother Cadfael series is the feel for routine experiences, craft methods, etc.

This book deals with a poisonous atmosphere of compulsory orthodoxy. It also gives a fairly good description of the art of making vellum.

I should say that there's one aspect of the books that has always disturbed me: the apparent authorial complicity in the pervasive societal discrimination against the nocturnal. This isn't unique to this series, but it's the more disturbing in well-written bo
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Ron
Sep 04, 2008 Ron rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While Ellis Peters' Cadfael series avoids the church bashing indulged by the Mystery videos of the same name, she does recognize there were institutional and individual abuses. This is a good read.

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 fictional. Though the foreground of each chronicle is a murder mystery, behind
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Robyn
Mar 26, 2008 Robyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery lovers, history lovers
It has taken me a whle to get into the Cadfael books but now that I have, I am hooked. I like the simple mystery elements of these stories and like having enough information to be able to deduce the crime for myself. I hate it when an author keeps clues to themselves so that the reader has no hope. I also like the attitudes to religion expressed through the mouths of the main characters.
Sue
Jul 27, 2012 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, england, medieval
Elave enters the courtyard of the Abbey pushing a cart bearing a casket. He is granted permission to speak tnext day at Chapter and tells a tale of having been on pilgrimage with William of Lythwood (of Shrewsbury) for the last seven years. William died en route back to Shrewsbury and it was his wish to be buried at the Abbey. William had been a faithful member and contributor to the church prior to his pilgrimage and his request was granted after some discussion. The night of William's funeral ...more
Deborah Pickstone
Satisfying re-read of an old favourite. I was particularly taken, on this read, by the interesting subject matter of heresy. Of course, it all came out well but yet an overview of the possible positions that might be taken on the subject were examined and the peril that such an accusation placed a person in at that time made clear. Although Cadfael is very much HF comfort reading, it is clear the Ellis Peters (Edith Pargeter) actually was well-read on the subject (which is one I find most intere ...more
Stephen
Mar 15, 2008 Stephen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all cadfael fans
Continuing my pilgrimage through Elllis Peters' saga of murder mystery romances, I reread the Heretic's Apprentice and enjoyed it completely. It's another satisfying installment in the series. This time a young man returns from the holy land with the body of the man that he accompanied on pilgrimage. Seven years have passed since the man and boy's departure and the boy is bearing a gift/dowry for the man's ward, an ornately carved box. And the boxes contents remain a mystery for a good part of t ...more
Spuddie
Re-read of the sixteenth book in the series that is probably my all-time favorite mystery series featuring the medieval monk, Brother Cadfael at the abbey of St. Peter and St. Paul in Shrewsbury.

This one I had figured out ahead of time, but whether that was because I have read this before--although I didn't remember the solution when I started the book--or just that I've gotten better over the years at sorting the mysteries out well in advance, I don't know. I still enjoyed it.
Lyn Elliott
'A Mediaeval Whodunnit' is the subtitle on my edition and that sums it up very nicely. Its a good story, told with all the period detail and fine characterisation you expect from Ellis Peters.
It's really a 3.5 for me. Good fun to read on holiday and for a light break in between more solid fare.
Carol
Sep 23, 2009 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always enjoy spending awhile with Brother Cadfiel. In this case there is a small inquisition in the Abbey of Shrewsbery, handled adeptly and wisely by the abbott. As the theologen Paul Tillich said, "Doubt is not the opposite of Faith, it is an element of Faith."
Fredrick Danysh
William of Lythwood returns from a pilgrimage in a coffin under the care of his apprentice Elave who seeks a burial site at the abbey for his master. Elave is accused of heresy for a statement that he made while in his cups. Brother Cadfael is forced to leave his herb garden to settle matters.
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
I got overtones of "phoning it in" from this one, my least favorite of the Brother Cadfaels I've read so far.
Stephanie
Jun 20, 2017 Stephanie rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
I really enjoyed this one because it involved medieval manuscripts, plus it was a good plot with good characters. I liked the nuanced characters and the treatment of theological questions, which at first seemed like it was going to be too simplistic and yet ended up being subtle and satisfying.
Kathryn
Apr 23, 2009 Kathryn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007, reread-books, 2010
1st Recorded Reading: August 20, 2007.

I found this particular book in the series of Brother Cadfael mysteries to be quite, well, mysterious; besides dealing with young love and the obligatory dead body (one almost starts wondering, at the beginning of each book, who it is that is wearing the Red Security Shirt made infamous in every given Star Trek episode, as it was always a guy in a Red Security Shirt who got killed in the first few minutes of each episode), the question of Heresy raises its h
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Nathan Albright
Nov 07, 2016 Nathan Albright rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yet again, in distinct ways from previous novels, this novel manages to hit alarmingly close to me. The story of this novel revolves around a young man who loyally brings the coffin of his lord back from their long pilgrimage. There he gives a young foster child of his lord’s family a dowry that proves extremely important to the plot of the novel. Then he spends nearly the entire novel under the shadow of heresy charges because of beliefs that are not far from my own, in questioning the Trinity, ...more
Nancy
Jul 09, 2012 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lots of religious rhetoric in this one, which is not surprising given the title. Our hero, Elave, is accused of being a heretic for his views on original sin, infant baptism, predestination, and divine grace, and for the general impertinence of using his wit to question his religious elders rather than to merely "listen and say Amen".

Peters is a master of words. Even though Canon Gerbert's denunciations of Elave are uncomfortable it's still a joy to read the words strung together. I wish there
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Malcolm
Aug 23, 2016 Malcolm rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
Brother Cadfael’s 16th outing, there seems to be a high fatality rate in 12th century Shrewsbury, is an engaging delight following the convention and form of the previous – a youthful romance, threatened lovers, a murder most foul and a morally corrupt reason, in this case covetousness. Peters’ formula works well, she has a fine grasp of medieval church convention but not one so alien that we cannot easily recognise it in the present, made all the more so by at times surprisingly modern thinking ...more
Andrew Doohan
Another wonderful volume in the ongoing Chronicles of Brother Cadfael series which in this volume deals tangentially with one those aspects of Church history - the allegation and prosecution of heresy - which is both a blight on the life of the Church and a necessary part of the life of the Church.

The story, as always, involves the untimely death of residents of Shrewsbury (to which I make a mental note that I would never want to live there!) and the interaction between the monastic Brother Cadf
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Andrea Hickman Walker
This is the only Cadfael mystery I've ever had to restart because I just couldn't get into it the first time. I suspect the reasoning for that was that it was around the time I was reading about the Inquisition and there's really only so much religious intolerance I can handle. I didn't even make it to the murder the first time!

This time, I finished it and enjoyed every moment of it. Given the amount of so-called heresies abounding at the time (and, really, ever since such a thing was invented),
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Mark Robertson
The plot here sticks to the Brother Cadfael formula: There's a murder and multiple suspects, including a falsely accused young man who either already is or becomes involved with a beautiful young woman, a woman willing to risk everything to save her lover. Cadfael's heart at the plight of the young lovers and he eventually finds the true murderer. Along the way there are usually a few more killings and trips around the countryside. These books may be predictable, but that doesn't mean they're no ...more
Doria
Jan 17, 2013 Doria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
SPOILERS

Ah, so fun to read!! It's like eating cheesecake: sinful and rich, yet also nourishing, and even, arguably, nutritious. I think I loved this particular Cadfael so much because it had to do with one person's obsessive, murderous love of a particular book. Most of the Cadfael books deal with more prosaic (heh heh, get the pun??!) or predictable motives for murder - jealousy, greed, etc. The motive of insatiable book-hunger took me by surprise, hidden as it was behind the plot's focus on a
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Fiona
I would not be surprised if I came back to this book in a few years and upgraded how many stars I give it.

This is the first Cadfael book I've finished, although not the first one I've started - I was handed one in my early teens when I was very much into Poirot, and found it dull as ditchwater. Now, I think I'm growing into them a bit more. I can see reading a few more, getting to know the characters a bit better, and moving from finding them diverting to very much of a treat. At the moment, tho
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D.w.
Jan 21, 2009 D.w. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
As i read these I want to be able to be transported away to the period and feel the depth and richness that it has to offer. Here Peters has done so. We get from the Heretic's Apprentice a great deal of the church, both it's politics and workings and the philosophy that was prevalent at the time.

The mystery of course is paramount and the outcome, a happy ending is clear as Peters seems to unite some couple in love in each of these stories, but what is not clear as has been so these last few book
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Anne
Feb 03, 2015 Anne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't love this one as much as I loved the first two Brother Cadfaels I read recently, but what amazes me is the incredible depth and breadth of research that Ellis Peters must have done to put this one together. She had to craft compelling heretical statements and their counter-arguments (and the counter-arguments to the counter-arguments!), write convincingly about vellum-making, and describe a psalter created by an Irish monk a century before it appeared in this story. I believed her entir ...more
Alessandro Balestra
Inghilterra, XII secolo. Durante la festa di Santa Winifred, la tranquillità dell'abbazia di Shrewsbury viene bruscamente interrotta dall'arrivo di Elave, un giovane pellegrino che porta con sè il corpo senza vita di William di Lythwood, un vecchio mercante dal torbido passato. Costui, come ultime volontà, desiderava essere seppellito nel cimitero del monastero e donare uno scrigno dal contenuto misterioso a Fortunata, sua figlia adottiva. Tutto si complica quando lo zio della ragazza viene trov ...more
Frode
Feb 12, 2013 Frode rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was a bit disappointed in this book. The single red herring was not too convincing, and the real murderer was the only other character that was remotely possible. Peters used a theological debate over free will and mentioned Augustine but not Pelagias, who was the real promoter of the debate. I think her characterization of the antagonists was a usurpation of literary license. The defender of Augustine was made to seem bigoted, narrow, and overly dogmatic. The defender of free will was made ou ...more
The Hobbit
Elave brings his master's body back from the Crusades to England and carries a package the dying man instructed his squire to give the man's niece Fortuna for her dowry. Elave also arrives home professing his master's religious beliefs, some of which the Church considers heretical. A servant in his master's household accuses Elave of hersey. When the accuser is found murdered, Elave is the prime suspect. Brother Cadfael also realizes there is a problem with Fortuna's gift, an elaborately carved ...more
Joanne
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Poetreehugger
Mar 10, 2012 Poetreehugger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another in a consistently superior series, filled with rich historical detail (in this story we are introduced to the craft of making vellum from sheepskin; in a previous book we learned the rudiments of coppicing trees), suspenseful story, and sound philosophical musings, and presented in the form of a real page-turner of a mystery.
"...Did you ever think what a waste it would be if you burned a man for what he believed at twenty, when what he might believe and write at forty would be hailed as
...more
Korynn
Oct 07, 2008 Korynn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-crime
This volume is singular in the way that it deals with an issue that is common is our era but privileged in theirs, the idea of analyzing and critiquing literature, but in this case, debating the merits of scripture and the writings of the saints. Anyone who wishes to debate the Christian religious writings that are considered by many narrow-minded folk to be set in stone despite contradictions and paradoxes are labeled "heretics" and were persecuted and killed. So this volume examines this and m ...more
Lisa
Another favorite entry in the Brother Caedfel series, with a great plot and a dramatic climax. Peters writes so many varied characters so well, and they fit into their medieval setting while being identifiable today. This book also brings up some interesting points of religious doctrine, without being at all heavy-handed about it--infant baptism, salvation by grace vs. salvation by works, and the advisability of a person not educated in theology thinking about the hard questions--or just accepti ...more
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4046
A pseudonym used by Edith Pargeter.

Edith Mary Pargeter, OBE, BEM 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 Horsehay (Shropshire, England), she had Welsh ancestry, and many of her sho
...more
More about Ellis Peters...

Other Books in the Series

Chronicles of Brother Cadfael (1 - 10 of 21 books)
  • A Rare Benedictine (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, prequel stories 0.1-0.3)
  • A Morbid Taste for Bones (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #1)
  • One Corpse Too Many (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #2)
  • Monk's Hood (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #3)
  • St. Peter's Fair (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #4)
  • The Leper of Saint Giles (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #5)
  • The Virgin in the Ice (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #6)
  • The Sanctuary Sparrow (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #7)
  • The Devil's Novice (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #8)
  • Dead Man's Ransom (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #9)

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“One century's saint is the next century's heretic ... and one century's heretic is the next century's saint. It is as well to think long and calmly before affixing either name to any man.” 11 likes
“They sell courage of a sort in the taverns. And another sort, though not for sale, a man can find in the confessional. Try the alehouses and the churches, Hugh. In either a man can be quiet and think.” 11 likes
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