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

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  3,348 Ratings  ·  131 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)
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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 #. [2015--this seems to have been corrected]

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 acc
Jul 23, 2015 Jillian rated it really liked it
I found this one of the series very convincing and engaging. The interest lay in the motivations of the characters - their loyalties, responses and obligations. Peters manages to draw the reader into another time and place, to connect us to the context. The story unfolds with ease. It mattered not that I could guess how the mystery might unfold. I was part of the world and wanted to know how each character would fare, where the logic of their world would take them within the framework of histori ...more
Elis Madison
When Sheriff Prescote is taken captive in battle, his deputy, Hugh Beringar, seeks to exchange a young Welsh prisoner for him. The deal is made, and the injured sheriff is brought home, only to fall prey to murder. The resolution is complicated by a love quadrangle and a bromance.

I didn't love this as much as the earlier books in the series, but it's still a pretty good read. I'd have given it 4.5 stars, but I knew who the murderer was as soon as the murderer knew it.
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
Jun 26, 2015 Denise rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2015
The civil war has flared up again and once again comes close to home for the population of Shrewsbury. When an exchange of prisoners of war leads to coldblooded murder, the prime suspect, a young man from Wales, appeals to Brother Cadfael for help. As always, an entertaining historical mystery read.
Maria Thermann
Apr 30, 2015 Maria Thermann rated it really liked it
Dead Man's Ransom is a very thought-provoking whodunit, presenting both Cadfael and the Deputy Sheriff, Hugh Beringar, with quite a conundrum. Two Welsh foster-brothers, as close as twins but as dissimilar as two young whelps could be in nature, are embroiled in a love-triangle that ends in murder.

The murder victim, an exchange prisoner taken by the Welsh during a battle for Lincoln in the ongoing civil war between King Stephen and Empress Maud in 1141, is none other than the Sheriff of Shrewsb
Sep 04, 2008 Ron rated it really liked it
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.
Again, there are some excellent characters in this book - most of all the female characters, often secondary in this setting, but in Miss Pargeter's writing her women always have shone through even when they weren't main characters (essentially ever, sadly, but given her historical specialities I can't say I'm that surprised).

Here we get to see Avice of Thornbury once more, now "Sister Magdalen" (and please excuse me while I restrain myself from kicking my Kindle for only using an American Engl
May 26, 2014 Sharon rated it liked it
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
Aug 27, 2013 Isis rated it really liked it
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!
Kimberly Ann
In a drunken brawl a man accidentally killed.....The Sheriff strict & unyielding hung by the neck until dead the two survivors. One of those hung, his 1/2 brother seeks revenge upon the Sheriff, but is healing from a broken leg in the Abbey's Infirmary.

Afar at the nunnery, a Welsh raiding party is foiled, a young man sowing wild oats is struck down and nearly drown in the river. Rescued & brought back to life to stand trial is now in the Abbey's Infirmary. This young man meets the Sherif
Oct 27, 2015 Kathy rated it really liked it
Because I check my goodreads list before I buy books, in this I had misled myself. Sometimes I sit down at the library and read books, start to finish, and this had been one of those. I recall thinking at the time that I did not find the book as interesting as most of the Cadfael books because of the descriptions of battle. I like battle scenes...just not the ones written by this lady who did such a good job on the softer side of things. Anyway, glad I bought it just the same and enjoyed the rat ...more
Ellis Peters' Cadfael was where I started reading crime in earnest. It has been a delight to go back and fill in a gap. They are superficially slight, easy, pleasant reads but I find they endure in the memory.

An important figure, wounded and captured in battle, is brought home in a prisoner exchange but dies, as it turns out not of his injuries but assisted on his way. So there's the mystery, the Dead Man's Ransom and to add to that we have the regular mix of medieval politics and life, and a mo
Aug 20, 2015 Anne rated it liked it
I thought the central relationship of this was fascinating, though of course my 21st-century brain was convinced that Eliud was going to turn out to be in love with his foster brother Elis. Didn't happen, and I was a tiny bit disappointed not to get to read how Brother Cadfael would have dealt with that.

The weird thing, also, about reading in whatever order I feel like is that the dead man in this book features prominently in a lot of other books, and I want to go back and check all of the late
I love Brother Cadfael mysteries but this one dragged and the murderer was kinda obvious.
The Hobbit
Jan 24, 2016 The Hobbit rated it really liked it
9th in the Brother Cadfael mystery series. Sheriff Gilbert Prestcote has been captured by Welsh marauders. A young Welsh nobleman has been captured by the English and is being held in Shrewsbury Castle. A prisoner exchange is agreed. The sheriff arrives home in critical condition. Before Elis can be returned to Wales, the Sheriff dies. It is Brother Cadfael who notices bruising around the dead man's mouth and nostrils and discovers fibers of cloth in his teeth and beard. The Sheriff did not die ...more
Jul 31, 2016 Alice rated it liked it
Read in April 2010. Re-read in July 2016.
May 05, 2016 Nancy rated it it was amazing
another good book in the series… good seems to prevail…..

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 Brother Cadfael for help. And Brother Cadfael gives it, not knowing that
Rena Sherwood
Okay, granted, my appreciation for this book is not going to be the same as the average reader. I began it while my Mom was getting surgery and finished it in the days she was recovering (Mom's more or less fine now.) Anyway, Dead Man's Ransom helped comfort me because I was able to easily immerse myself in its world and thus be spared the constant worry about Mom's condition (or lack thereof.) I am a chronic worrier so ANYTHING that can successfully distract me from worry is practically miracul ...more
Mar 02, 2013 Sue rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, england, medieval
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 it was amazing
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
May 25, 2010 Kathryn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reread-books, 2003, 2010
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
Gayle Noble
"The sheriff of Shropshire has been captured and the king taken prisoner. Then an exchange of prisoners is arranged - but before the exchange is completed, one captive is murdered. It is Brother Cadfael who first notices evidence of unnatural death."

This was an ok book but rather predictable. I had worked out the main plot a couple of chapters in and the ending was really a bit of a cop out (view spoiler)
May 04, 2009 Trisha rated it really liked it
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
May 19, 2012 Ann rated it really liked it
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
Ray Akerboom
Apr 12, 2016 Ray Akerboom rated it liked it
Another one of Cadfael's mysteries, this time with a deep Welsh background. Now we all know that Brother Cadfael himself is of Welsh origin, but until now it was usually a little sidepath in the story. This time his heritage plays a more important role. The plot is not very difficult to quess and indeed there are no more dead bodies falling out of the closet after the first murder. As Brother Cadfael goes, it's a nice enough book!
Dan Jones
Sep 09, 2016 Dan Jones rated it liked it
Not my favorite Cadfael, but still a decent story. This one at least has a battle scene in it, and has a little more than the murder, and Cadfael's efforts to unite the star-crossed lovers. Those elements are here though, although the young lovers are impetuous, and not always worth rooting for. In the end, Cadfael does his usual thing, but you are left wondering if the greater good was actually served this time.
The ninth of the Cadfael chronicles. I am starting to get fond of Cadfael and Hugh. As always they are the main characters. This book has a bit more action with two wars: one from the north and one from Wales. Gilbert Prescote is captive of the Welsh and he is to be exchanged with a Welsh captive. Sister Magdalena is also playing a role again.

I do like Elis Peters' books and I enjoy them a lot.
Oct 12, 2015 Kathleen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had forgotten how much I enjoyed Brother Cadfael! Started back on this fine series with it's excellent dialogue and accurate period detail.

The Welsh were over the borders as King Stephen and Matilda the Empress were fighting their battles. Ellis Peters described the Welsh protagonists and who had or perhaps, may have had allegiances.

I recommend this for every one and especially people like myself wishing to understand some distant Welsh roots.
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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)
  • 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)
  • The Pilgrim of Hate (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #10)
  • An Excellent Mystery (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #11)

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