Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Dead Man's Ransom (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #9)” as Want to Read:
Dead Man's Ransom (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #9)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Dead Man's Ransom (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #9)

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  2,353 ratings  ·  82 reviews
The year is 1141 and civil war continues to rage. When the sheriff of Shropshire is taken prisoner, arrangements are made to exchange him for Elis, a young Welshman. But when the sheriff is brought to the abbey, he is murdered. Suspicion falls on Elis, who has fallen in love with the sheriff's daughter. With nothing but his Welsh honor to protect him, Elis appeals to Broth ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published March 1st 1997 by Mysterious Press (first published 1984)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Dead Man's Ransom, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Dead Man's Ransom

The Book Thief by Markus ZusakGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellA Tale of Two Cities by Charles DickensThe Pillars of the Earth by Ken FollettThe Help by Kathryn Stockett
Recommended Historical Fiction
315th out of 1,686 books — 1,686 voters
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret AtwoodEnder's Game by Orson Scott CardThe Cider House Rules by John IrvingLove in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcí­a MárquezPerfume by Patrick Süskind
Best Books of 1985
18th out of 128 books — 84 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Another entertaining installment in the Cadfael canon. This is the first one chronologically that was never made into a TV episode. Perhaps because it has Cadfael in Wales for a good part of it and the ensemble cast that they assembled for the TV series would have had precious little to do.

The episode is a good one though. There are actually two sets of star-crossed lovers and a Welsh border incursion along with the re-appearance of Avice of Thornbury from Leper of Saint Giles now as a Benedict
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 it a nation and a culture are woven in a wondrous tapestry.

Dead Man's Ransom: Honor and duty clash with unrequited love and racial animosity.
Listed as #9 in the Brother Cadfael series, it read more like a much earlier book. Did not think the characters were as well fleshed out as in others of this series. Still a fun, easy afternoon read. Deals with the conflict between King Steven and EMpress Maude, however, the Welsh interests seem to take precedence in this story. A young noble is captured, an exchange is arranged, but the exchangee is badly wounded and dies before the actual exchange takes place. Honor is involved, so the young n ...more
Another really solid book in this series. I figured out pretty early on who was in love with whom, and I also figured out the murderer (and was not happy about it!) but it all worked out in the end, whew, nicely though not so neatly. Yay!
This book doesn't come up in a title search, even if you combine a keyword from the title and the author's name. I had to search for it by ISBN #.

Up until the middle of this book in the series, the Sheriff of Shropshire is Gilbert Prestcote. He's not particularly adequate. He's dour, he's prejudiced, and he sometimes takes advantage of built-in cruelties in the law to 'solve' problems that could have been solved a lot less ruthlessly. Would a man who accidentally killed another in a drunken (and
Sheriff Gilbert Prestcote and his forces had been in battle against the Welsh. The troops returned to Shrewsbury without their leader. It is hoped that he is alive in captivity. A few days later, word is brought to the Abbey of a Welshman being held captive. He (Elis) is brought to the Abbey and word is sent to the Welsh forces with the idea of brokering a deal to swap prisoners. The sheriff is alive, but seriously wounded. It is agreed that the exchange can be made and the Welsh bring Gilbert ...more
Cecily Felber
Nov 11, 2010 Cecily Felber rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone!
This is the book, with its mentions of Madog ap Maredudd and the contigent of Welsh soldiers who took part in the Battle of Lincoln, that is partly responsible for my own books.

The Battle of Lincoln in early 1141 was a disastrous defeat for King Stephen in his ongoing war with his cousin Maud for the crown of England. Fighting on Stephen's side is the Sheriff of Shrewsbury, Gilbert Prestcote, Hugh Beringar's superior, who is wounded and then taken prisoner and held for ransom by some of the Wels
1st Recorded Reading: October 2003

The Battle of Lincoln in the north of England on February 2, 1141, is historical fact; the forces of King Stephen of England fought the forces of Robert, 1st Earl of Gloucester (the half brother of the Empress Matilda) and those of the Earl of Chester, while on the flank was a mass of Welsh troops led by Madog ap Maredudd, Lord of Powys, and Cadwaladr ap Gruffydd, the brother of Owain, Prince of Gwynedd, who was neutral in the Civil War between Stephen and Matil
I love the Brother Cadfael books - not so much for the mystery part (since I'm not a mystery reader) but strictly because of the characters , specifically Brother Cadfael, the spunky little 12 century Welsh Benedictine monk and herbalist, and Hugh Berengar, Sheriff of Maesbury who is Cadfael's sleuthing sidekick. The books all take place in and around the Abbey of Sts Peter and Paul in Shrewsbury in Shropshire, England during the the civil war between King Stephen and Empress Maud of England. I ...more
I love the Brother Cadfael mysteries as much for the richness of the characters and setting in old 12th Century England as for the intricate mysteries. The stories all take place in and around the Abbey of Sts. Peter and Paul in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England during the Civil War between King Stephen and Empress Maud of England. In these books, some kind of murder or other mysterious mishap seems to find its way to the Abbey, interrupting the serenity of the brothers cloistered there. Brother ...more
I am fast approaching the end of the series, much to my regret. This one concerned the skirmish between the English and Welsh on the borderlands, and the exchange of hostages. Young love, heroics and misguided attempts to take the blame all re-appear here, but somehow all afresh. I was reflecting on this and one thing that stands out about htis series is how Peters seems to capture the mindset of the times through the language, including word choice and sentence structure. I think it gives a gre ...more
Cherie Waggie
Getting to know Brother Cadfael through the books of Ellis Peters has been a wonderful treat. Using only his skills of observation and knowledge of the world, Cadfael works miracles in forensic science in an age where such things simply weren't known. I've read all of Brother Cadfael's mysteries and enjoy seeing them brought to life by Derek Jacoby on DVD.
Feeding my fetish of 12th century murder mysteries set in England (involving Benedictine monks), I noticed this series of "Brother Cadfael" books. Or rather, books and videos. PBS showed a bunch of one hour episodes during the mid-90's, each representing one of these novels. So they're not overly convoluted, like Name of the Rose was. These are simply fun, straight-forward murder mysteries, involving a cheery, progressive Benedictine monk named Cadfael cast in the role of Sherlock Holmes.

This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brian Turner
Set in the 12th century, The sheriff of Shrewsbury is captured by the Welsh, and a minor Welsh lord is also captured by the English. A swap is agreed, but one is murdered before the handover can take place.
Brother Cadfael uses his knowledge to pick at clues until the killer can be found.

A character driven story, it doesn't go in for convolutions that some mystery authors chose to show off how clever they were, and as such has much more re-reading value.

The period it's set in acts as a handy back
Ryan Patrick
Another case where Cadfael skirts around the justice of the law to administer his own brand of mercy. I never expected Cadfael to be such a romantic, but this isn't the first time he has been cast in the role of a matchmaker of sorts - he's definitely got a soft spot for young lovers. This book raises the same issue as an earlier book (I can't remember which one now) about the morality of law and justice. Peters wants us to accept that real justice was served in the end (it all makes one wonder ...more
I'm a fan of Brother Cadfael. I like his easy manner, insight into people, and wisdom. This was the third book I've read, so it's always a good thing to meet up with some familiar characters. Good description: "Of the three, the prisoner in Shrewsbury seemed to him the happiest by far, since he lived in the day, warming in its sunlight, taking cover from its storms, in every case finding by instinct the pleasant corner and the gratifying entertainment. The other two burned like candles, eating t ...more
I love the way a riveting story and fascinating historical detail are combined with gentle spiritual insight.
P. 144, " was good to put all that aside and listen with good heart to the lives of saints who had shrugged off the cares of the world to let in the promises of a world beyond and viewed earthly justice as no more than a futile shadow-play obscuring the absolute justice of heaven, for which no man need wait longer than the life-span of mortality."
P. " 'It is God fixes the term,' sai
Kally Sheng
Men drunk with ambition and power do not ground their weapons, nor stop to recognise the fellow-humanity of those they are about to slay. - Pg. 2

"If none of us ever fell short, or put a foot astray, everything would be good in this great world, but we stumble and fall, every one. We must deal with what we have." - Cadfael, Pg. 245-6

Innocence is an infinitely fragile thing and thought can sometimes injure, even destroy it. - Pg. 254

"... What is done matters, but what is yet to do matters far more
I liked this one. The Welsh context was really interesting and the story rattled along. I didn't see the end coming either.
A pretty good mystery, but, for me, a bit of a shaky ending. The motive wasn't clear until the reveal (no moneygrubbers here), but the resolution was just so-so.

(view spoiler)
A young Welch lord captured by the English and an English sheriff captured by Welch soldiers have Brother Cadfael using his language and negotiation skills to do an exchange. When, the English Sheriff is murdered and it is up to Brother Cadfael to solve the mystery. A little different than the usual Brother Cadfael since it mostly takes place in his homeland. As I expect from Ms. Peter’s a good story and fun read, just right to relax with in the summer’s heat. If you like Ellis Peter’s Brother C ...more
Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael series - set around 1000/1100, a Welsh man who had been with the Crusades, soldier/sailor, loved women etc settles down to retirement as a Benedictine monk, working as an apothecary within the abbey and the community, and assisting the sheriff with mysteries. He's a really wholesome character who understands people and life, not at all narrow and irritating. There is also a series of movies made based on these books with Derek Jacobi playing Brother Cadfael
Guy VanHorn
A very good read. Many characters and many subplots all pulled together in an exciting climax. Effective blending of historical elements continues in this chronicle such as the battle for Lincoln, the Earl of Chester, and the ongoing switching of loyalties between King Stephen and the Empress Maude. There is also a deeper exploration of the Welsh and their involvements in the civil war. The ending causes you to relook the meaning of justice both spiritual and civil.
Yet another great tale of love, murder, and a troubled country in the grips of civil war -- Cadfael is as understanding and clear-sighted as always, a paragon of what it should mean to be a "good Christian". The side characters are vivid and their plights powerful; I'll never tire of Peters' flawless skill of evoking a time long past with stunning clarity and modern presence. History, mystery, and romance in a perfect blend -- what more could a girl want?
AH! I found one I hadn't read!! I love the history that is woven so seamlessly into the enticing story line. I admit it, I love Bro. Cadfael :) The grammar/construction is sometimes a challenge, but not more than modern jargon.... And Ellis Peters respects authenticity and the realities of life so that there is both the sad and the glad to her characters and her stories. I hope I find another one I haven't read.....or I could start re-reading !
Sandra Strange
These suspenseful stories include pinches of romance, devotion, and humor, as well as truly unique characters. The mysteries use as background superb portrayals of 12th Century England. The author is a noted Medieval scholar. Positive. Caution: the series is aimed at adults, not adolescents. Many themes of these mystery novels are ADULT themes, including rape, abuse of various sorts, etc. They are all positive, ultimately.
Deva Fagan
Aug 06, 2012 Deva Fagan added it
Shelves: 2012-read
Continuing my re-read!

This is one I'd almost completely forgotten, so it was like reading it all over again new. The resolution was interesting and thought-provoking.

Ellis Peters is one of the few writers who can have characters fall in love at first sight and make me either believe it or not mind it...

Also, I wish Sister Magdalen had her own series too!
Frank Peters
The ninth Cadfael book – “Dead Man’s Ransom” was excellent. The twists and turns, were eventually completely logical, yet initially turned my head in knots. The peripheral characters were lovable and I was emotionally on their side. Best of all was the ending, with it multiple layers of deception, that was handled satisfactorily by Hugh Beringer, the Sheriff.
I LOVE this series. Agatha Christi enthusiasts would adore Brother Cadfael. I love the historical and cultural references that are little known outside the British Isles, if not outside Wales, or their issue elsewhere in the world. I listened to this on Audible, narrated by Patrick Tull, who had a very credible accent and mastery of the King's English of the day.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The King's Bishop (Owen Archer, #4)
  • Act of Mercy (Sister Fidelma, #8)
  • The Devil's Door (Catherine LeVendeur, #2)
  • Historical Whodunits
  • A Bone of Contention (Matthew Bartholomew, #3)
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...
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)

Share This Book

“A man must be prepared to face life, as well as death, there's no escape from either.” 5 likes
“Once, I remember, Father Abbot said that our purpose is justice, and with God lies the privilege of mercy. But even God, when he intends mercy, needs tools to his hand.” 2 likes
More quotes…