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A Morbid Taste for Bones (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #1)

3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  23,634 Ratings  ·  895 Reviews
Ellis Peters' introduction to the murderous medieval world of Brother Cadfael...
A Morbid Taste for Bones

In the remote Welsh mountain village of Gwytherin lies the grave of Saint Winifred. Now, in 1137, the ambitious head of Shrewsbury Abbey has decided to acquire the sacred remains for his Benedictine order. Native Welshman Brother Cadfael is sent on the expedition to tran
Mass Market Paperback, 197 pages
Published 1994 by Grand Central Publishing (first published 1977)
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Edith He participated in the Crusades, and he was captain of a ship. He is the herbalist at the Shrewsbury Monastery.
Patricia I would say so. It helps to read a series in order. But I think each plot stands alone. I might change my mind after rereading them.
The Name of the Rose by Umberto EcoThe Alienist by Caleb CarrThe Historian by Elizabeth KostovaThe Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz ZafónMistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
Best Historical Mystery
26th out of 1,308 books — 3,411 voters
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Favorite Historical Mystery Series
8th out of 787 books — 922 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jul 25, 2008 Lisa rated it it was amazing
Great historical mystery series.

Since this info was hard for me to find, below is a list of the Cadfael novels in order of publication:

A Morbid Taste for Bones

One Corpse Too Many

Monk's Hood

St. Peter's Fair

The Leper of St. Giles

The Virgin in the Ice

The Sanctuary Sparrow

The Devil's Novice

Dead Man's Ransom

The Pilgrim of Hate

An Excellent Mystery

The Raven in the Foregate

The Rose Rent

The Hermit of Eyton Forest

The Confession of Brother Haluin

The Heretic's Apprentice

A Rare Benedectine

The Potter's Field
Nov 27, 2011 Werner rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of historical mysteries
Recommended to Werner by: I was a fan of the PBS Brother Cadfael episodes on Mystery!
Dame Edith Pargeter had already, by 1977, made a reputation for herself, under the pen name of Ellis Peters, as a mystery writer; but under her own name, she was also a respected author of historical fiction, much of it set in medieval Wales. When she brought the two genres together in this first of many novels, set in the border country between England and Wales (where she grew up) in the turbulent mid-1100s and featuring Brother Cadfael, a former veteran soldier now a monk in his sixties, and ...more
Jan 16, 2014 Willow rated it really liked it
This book is actually quite good.

I must admit though, I had a hard time getting through it. In fact, I pretty much had to sit myself down and force myself to read through to the end. I’ve decided that has much more to do with me than the book itself (consequently my high rating). The truth is, I just don’t like mysteries, and now I know that even by setting the mystery in a fascinating time period, this doesn’t change. When I was younger, I used to read every Agatha Christi ‘Poirot’ story I cou
Apr 14, 2013 Chrissie rated it liked it
Marvelous story. You have to read it to find out exactly what happens. A fun spoof on religion. The historical detail, the characters, and the humor are enchanting. By the end I loved Brother Cadfael and all the villagers of Gwytherin, Wales. An utterly charming tale and funny too!
 Carol ♛ Type, Oh Queen! ♛
I read some of the Brother Cadfael books years ago & found them just ok. May have been my age or (more likely) that this is a series that needs to be read in order. Clearly there is more to the good brother than his skills as a herbalist! No doubt more will be revealed about his past in later books.

I don't know anything about 12th century Wales or England, but certainly Peters had given the narrative & dialogue a very authentic feel. & monastery politics feels like modern office or s
Oct 04, 2016 Marijan rated it really liked it
kratko, zanimljivo, na momente malo suhoparno, no vrlo dobro djelce. pogotovu kad zamišljaš likove iz serije.
Jan 06, 2014 Hannah rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries, 2014-reads
Having enjoyed the TV series (starring Derek Jacobi as Cadfael), I've long wanted to read the books on which they were based. This first book in the series was a treat. Peters has an easy writing style, and the story was intriguing and kept my interest, even though having seen its TV twin I knew how it would play out. There are many parallels to the TV adaptation, but also some slight changes as well, which was ok. Brother Cadfael is a wonderful leading character. I am looking forward to seeing ...more
2.0 to 2.5 stars. I picked this book up after really enjoying Dissolution by C. J. Sansom and wanting to try another historical mystery. While well written, I found this book to be fairly dull and the main character not nearly as interesting as Sansom's Matthew Shardlake. Not horrible by any means, just not great.
Oct 09, 2016 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is at its core a whodunnit however what sets it apart is the setting - 12 century in and around Shrewsbury. Now The first thing that I want to say is that this book (and in fact the whole series being written between the mid 70s and mid 90s) was ground breaking as no one had really broken the historical fiction genre and certainly not mixing it with the crime genre as well. However Ellis Peters did so and repeatedly.

Now I am sure there were books in this style written before Cadfael and th
May 09, 2013 Jon added it
Recommended to Jon by: Ron Andrea
Ah ha! We meet at last Brother Cadfael. Pray tell, Brother, was it as boring for you as it was for me?
I have heard much about the Brother Cadfael series and heard plenty of good reports on the books, including the first book in the series. This one. A Morbid Taste For Bones.
Having been one of the only English speaking persons in the world to have never read any of the books or watched any of the tv shows I have had A Morbid Taste For Bones on my radar for a goodling amount of time. Always putti
May 05, 2013 Hanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In a weird way, this book is pure nostalgia.

I never read this book before, but my mother used to have the entire collection and in my memories it seems like she was constantly reading one of them while i was a kid (which is probably not really true, but you know how memories work! they are alway slightly distorting the truth).
I saw this book a little while ago in the library and i just had to read it now.

It is a nice, quick and enjoyable read. Not too much suspense (although i am glad i was able
Maria Altiki
Apr 09, 2016 Maria Altiki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed
Πολύ ενδιαφέρον βιβλίο με πολύ ενδιαφέρον θέμα. Ένα μεσαιωνικό μυστήριο λοιπόν κ μια δολοφονία που καλείται να λύσει ένας μοναχός του τάγματος των Βενεδικτίνων. Ευκολοδιάβαστο κ εύστροφο θίγει καυτηριάζοντας το θέμα της θρησκείας κ των θαυμάτων. Απο τα βιβλία που σε βάζουν σε περισυλλογή διασκεδάζοντας σε με πολύ έξυπνο τρόπο. "Τα θαύματα δεν έχουν σχέση με την λογική, την ανατρέπουν, την αντικρούουν, παίζουν μαζί της, γίνονται για χάρη των ανθρώπων που τα έχουν ανάγκη κι έχουν σκοπό να τους ανα ...more
Oct 02, 2014 Damaskcat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Abbot of the Benedictine monastery in Shrewsbury has decided his abbey needs the relic of a saint to raise their profile. A vision by one of his monks means that his attention fixes on Saint Winifred whose remains currently lie in a small Welsh village. Permission is granted to go and remove the remains and Brother Cadfael - being the only Welsh speaker among the monks goes with them.

What follows is a PR disaster and results in the death of more than one person. But Brother Cadfael works to
Feb 25, 2015 Petra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fun story featuring a medieval monk with a past. I really enjoyed this visit of Olde England, the myths, the travel. The villagers of Gwytherin are a wonderful group.
There's not much I can say without giving away a mystery. The adventures of Father Cadfael and the others is a fun, human, warm story of murder, friendship, faith, hope, truth.
3.75 stars. I really enjoyed the first in this Brother Cadfael series, and look forward to continuing with it. It wasn't a page-turner that constantly called me back to it, but I was happy to spend time with the characters when I did pick it up. There is a lot to like about Brother Cadfael, I love the setting, and am slowly learning about medieval history, which is great. I also like a series in which religion figures prominently and positively, and people try to be good to one another, and show ...more
Jun 24, 2016 Janice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, ebooks, toppler, 2016
Once I got into the story, it was a page turner and I couldn't put it down.
Feb 22, 2015 Colleen rated it really liked it
"...Brother Cadfael had come late to the monastic life, like a battered ship settling at last for a quiet harbour." He'd traveled the world and had many women. "He could not conceive of coming to this stasis having done nothing else whatever." How could you not be enamored of a monk like that? He gets mad when his holy duties take away from his gardening. He sleeps through chapter. He pokes fun at his fellow brothers: Brother John "was a handsome, lusty, good-natured soul, who seemed to have blu ...more
I freely confess that first I came to the Brother Cadfael saga through PBS. Later I read the books that had never made it into TV form and am just now getting around to reading some of the books that have been favorite television programs of mine for some time.

It's a measure of the quality of the adaptations that neither the book nor the TV program is a disappointment. The printed story is a bit more complicated but the TV show touches on all of the major plot elements and even adds some embell
I've been meaning to reread these for a while. I don't think I can improve on my first impressions: it's a believable enough portrayal of both medieval Welsh and religious life, from what I know of either, and I particularly liked the portrayal of the women of the story, even the dead woman. I like that there's a hint of mystery and sacredness, too, that things turn out alright and it might be human effort or there might be a hint of divine intervention as well. It suits the time period.

I also n
Julie Bozza
A very competently done murder mystery set in medieval times, which (alas!) never really grabbed me. However, I did like a few things: The contrast between Cadfael's former adventurous life and his current contentment as a Benedictine was interesting, and I am sure is made good use of in other books in the series. There was some interesting info when comparing Welsh 'village' life with the English equivalent. And Cadfael's solution to the ultimate problem here was creative and amusing and a litt ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
Oct 24, 2012 Mike (the Paladin) rated it really liked it
A vision by Columbanus a rather ambitious young monk convinces Prior Robert who is "in the market" for "Saint relics" to be located at Shrewsbury Abbey. Unfortunately Saint Winefride already has a home. She's buried in Wales.

This is not good. Mayhem will surely ensue... and of course it does. Just one question, can a long dead saint shoot a bow and arrow?
Feb 17, 2016 JoLene rated it really liked it
The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael series has been on my radar for a while now. I picked up the first book in a Kindle sale and finally got around to reading it. For the first adventure, Brother Cadfael accompanies several monks from his priory to Wales; Prior Robert wants to raise the stature of their priory by obtaining a relic of a Saint. The monks descend on Gwytherin, a small town in Wales to basically steal the bones of the local saint, Saint Winifred. The locals are not all that happy and ...more
Bill Rogers
Dec 20, 2014 Bill Rogers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brother Cadfael is intelligent, practical, level-headed, and a schemer. It occurred to me several times in this book that he would make an excellent supervillain were he not also kind-hearted and dedicated to good. Let us thank God for that, because certainly that's what Cadfael would do.

In this, Cadfael's first chronicle, Prior Robert has been thundering that the Abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul at Shrewsbury needs its own dead saint to bring in the tourists. Or, excuse me, pilgrims. Prior R
Mar 10, 2012 Bea rated it really liked it
This is the first book in the Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, a monk at the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Shrewsbury, England, in 1137. In this story, one of the monks. Prior Robert, is desirous of having a saint's relics at this abbey. He has been searching around for an available (yet unclaimed) saint and has found one in Wales.

A group of the brothers travel to Wales to obtain this saint's bones. They have permission from the prince of the land and the local bishop, but th
Oct 07, 2013 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am delighted to see the Brother Cadfael novels beginning to appear on kindle and hope they will all be available soon. This is the very first book in the series, first published in 1977 and set in 1137, it still reads as though it could has been released this month. This is a timeless, classic mystery and an enjoyable introduction to the world of Cadfael and his fellow brothers at the Shrewsbury abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul.

Brother Cadfael has arrived late to the cloister, after a full
Jul 05, 2015 Tiffany rated it it was amazing
I've given stars indescriminately to Ms. Peter's entire Cadfael canon, but that's only because I read them 30 years ago and I can't remember which ones I loved and which ones I only merely loved a little. I give the series five stars because they were pretty much flawless. Also, for me, life-changing.

While the stories are set in the 12th century, a hard time to give color and texture to, Ms. Peters acquits her writerly duties with perfection. Her understanding of language and rhythm is remarkab
Aug 13, 2009 Nathan rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
Enoyable history candy. I find myself taking on the speech mannerisms of the books I'm reading, and after nearly a dozen Brother Cadfael's I was a walking talking 12C monk.

The mysteries are quite gentle, despite featuring murders. Brother Cadfael, the protagonist, is never put in danger--compare, for example, to Dick Francis where almost every book features the hero getting beaten up twice (once to show that he feels pain, and again to show that he's brave enough to take the beating he knows is
Kaje Harper
I love this series, and have reread all of them, sometimes in a marathon, (which says something since I believe there are 20.) These are one of my comfort-reread series, lovely but not saccharine historical mysteries, with hints of (M/F) romance for secondary characters. Some books of the series are better than others - I think The Virgin in the Ice may be my favorite. And towards the end of the series, the plots were becoming familiar. But I never lost my affection for Brother Cadfael or my app ...more
A.L. Butcher
A good introduction to the Cadfael mysteries set in Saxon era Shrewsbury. The author describes the world well, with the troubled politics of the time as well as life within a monastry and beautiful descriptions of the countryside and commmunity of the era. The contrast between the Welsh and English attitides is fascinating and the will be familiar formula of young lovers needing a helping hand provides a refreshing contrast to the murder mystery. Cadfael reveals his more worldly past on several ...more
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Around the Year i...: A Morbid Taste for Bones, by Ellis Peters 2 11 Feb 26, 2016 04:06AM  
Play Book Tag: A Morbid Taste for Bones - Ellis Peters: 4 stars 9 20 Feb 12, 2016 02:57PM  
Goodreads Librari...: A Morbid Taste for Bones Kindle UK 2 16 Dec 26, 2015 05:39PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Incorrect number of pages 6 183 Jan 10, 2014 04:05AM  
Another stolen Saint 9 72 May 21, 2012 04:33PM  
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  • Poseidon's Gold (Marcus Didius Falco, #5)
  • Death Comes As Epiphany (Catherine LeVendeur, #1)
  • Absolution by Murder (Sister Fidelma, #1)
  • A Deadly Brew (Matthew Bartholomew, #4)
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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 about Ellis Peters...

Other Books in the Series

Chronicles of Brother Cadfael (1 - 10 of 20 books)
  • 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)
  • The Pilgrim of Hate (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #10)
  • An Excellent Mystery (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #11)

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