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The Potter's Field (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #17)

4.10  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,568 Ratings  ·  86 Reviews
In October of 1142, a local landlord gives the Potter's Field to the local clergy. The monks begin to plow it, and the blades turn up the long tresses of a young woman, dead over a year. Then the arrival of a novice who fled from an abbey ravaged by civil war in East Anglia complicates life even further for Brother Cadfael.
Paperback, 217 pages
Published September 1991 by Mysterious Press (first published 1989)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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A few days ago I was about to go to the summer cottage without electronic devices, and because I didn't feel like reading anything from the pile I already had, I went to the library to see if there were more Elizabeth Peters's Amelia Peabody adventures. Apparently, the library hasn't acquired them in order (the horror!), so I have to buy the next one if I'm planning on reading it. Then I saw something interesting next to the other Peters's novels: crime novels where a monk is doing the investi ...more
Jun 08, 2011 bookczuk rated it really liked it
I was able to get right onto this book, thanks to a spring cold. Ah brother Cadfael (though he will always look like Derek Jacobi, to me, thanks to the wonderful BBC series.) His character fascinates me....Cadfael is a Welshman who took up the sword in the First Crusade and fought his way to Jerusalem and back. He has seen and done it all before deciding, at age 40, to devote the rest of his life to God's work and joins an order of Benedictine monks. While atoning for his sins, he also becomes p ...more
Mary Ellis
Mar 24, 2013 Mary Ellis rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who like historical mysteries
The Potter's Field by Edith Pargeter (pen name Ellis Peters) is the seventeenth installment in the Brother Cadfael series of mysteries.

Cadfael is a Benedictine monk who works a vegetable garden and herbarium in an abbey in medieval Shrewsbury, England. At some distance from the town, the Empress Maude and her cousin King Stephen wage intermittent war for the throne of England. This bloody history often influences the main story and helps to ground us in the times. As a lover of historical novel
Mar 02, 2015 Anne rated it really liked it
For me, reading a Brother Cadfael mystery is like watching a movie. I had started this one a couple of days ago, and tonight I made myself a bag of microwave popcorn and settled in to finish it.

And wow, I did not see that coming. Well, okay, I saw something sort of like that coming. In fact, I think I had more of it figured out that Brother Cadfael did by the end. Much as I like Brother Cadfael, sometimes he figures stuff out with basically nothing to go on, or he has an inkling of a thought tha
Black Elephants
Apr 04, 2010 Black Elephants rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
In the anatomy of a mystery, you can pretty much assume that the eventual culprit or mastermind, especially in a murder case, is introduced early on in the plot. Writers slip them in with trumpets and cymbals or as unobtrusively as a shadow slanted away from a wall. Plot then happens, twisting and turning the culprit in such a way so that the reader is never truly clear about their agency until the "a-ha" moment. And if writers succeed in this manipulation of the reader's perception, then genera ...more
In my continuing march through the Cadfael mysteries I re-read this and enjoyed it more than the first time around.

The story was mangled a bit for TV consumption and the original tale as written is more satisfying if a bit too complex to fit into the frame of an hour long TV program.

All three main players, Cadfael, Abbot Radolfus and Hugh Berringer are estimable men and its a pleasure to see how the three struggle with unknotting the tangled web that is unearthed in The Potter's field.

This is a
May 12, 2013 Frode rated it really liked it
Ellis Peters lives up to her reputation as a mystery writer with this one. The focus shifts around to various suspects as Hugh and Cadfael deal with the flow of information that sheds progressive light on the case. The end is a bit of a surprise, which makes for a good mystery.

It is a joy to read her descriptions of people, the seasons, the countryside, and the customs. As Cadfael is off early one autumn morning, this line pops up: "But the birds were up and singing, busy and loud, lords of thei
Jul 03, 2011 Gwyn rated it it was amazing
I feel like the Brother Cadfael series slackened and stagnated toward its middle. The Potter's Field returns to the really, really good writing of the earlier books, and I hope that change sticks around for the remainder of the series. As usual, Peters uses some elements that have been seen in previous books, and the romance is as typical as ever, but the mystery is tight, compelling, puzzling. I especially enjoyed how Peters wrote from other characters' perspectives, allowing us to see through ...more
May 06, 2012 Poetreehugger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyable. My favourite quotations from this book: "We live as candles in the breath of God." (p. 182) "...My soul has benefited from his prayers. But pain is here in the body, and has a very loud voice. Sometimes I could not hear my own voice say Amen! for the demon howling." (p. 238) " 'It may well be,' said Cadfael, 'that our justice sees as in a mirror image, left where right should be, evil reflected back as good, good as evil, your angel as her devil. But God's justice, if it makes no hast ...more
Jan 07, 2015 David rated it it was amazing
Merely another superb product from the mistress of 12th century mysteries. The language is perfectly suited to the times, as are the names and places and practical everyday conditions. The action is not overly drawn out, nor the story line too bazaar so as to stretch one's imagination. This is a solid professional mystery story with Brother Cadfael as wise and astute and kindly as ever.

While the language was suited to its times, Ellis Peters (pseud. of Edith Mary Pargeter, 1913-1995) used a some
Sep 15, 2008 Ron rated it really liked it
One of the best and one that Mystery's video got close to right.

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.
Mar 10, 2009 Mom rated it it was amazing
This is another Grandma Price reccomendation. I relied on her wide reading to guide me to wholesome books.

These are fun mysteries, short, intriguing, easy to read that take you back centuries ago to medieval monestaries during the feudal system. A real slice of life at that time too.

There are many books in this Brother Cadafel series. All are good. Some characters you run into time and again.
Mar 02, 2013 Angie rated it it was amazing
My love for this series never dims -- even in re-reads, I find myself giddy in love with Brother Cadfael, Hugh Beringar, and their cohorts. While the plot of this particular outing feels a bit thin and too stretched to carry itself in a truly compelling way, I still appreciate and admire Peters' way with descriptions and historical detail. Always diverting and perfect winter weather reads.
Jul 20, 2012 Dagny rated it really liked it
Shelves: peters-ellis
The Potter's Field is the Seventeenth Chronicle of Brother Cadfael, of the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, at Shrewsbury. In 1143 a body is discovered as the Brothers are plowing a field newly donated to the Abbey. The local potter who once owned the field abandoned his wife take vows. Now it seems that his wife, who was believed to have left with a lover, was actually murdered.
Jan 03, 2016 Spuddie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: keepers
This is my very favorite medieval mystery series featuring Brother Cadfael at the Abbey of St Peter and St Paul in Shrewsbury, circa 1140-ish. I've been working my way through a re-read of the series over the past couple of years and have enjoyed them as much this time around as I did before. Only a few left to go, now.
Oct 06, 2014 Sam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd forgotten whodunit, but it did come back to me, but only shortly before the grand denouement. The plot is well paced and the clues are all there, I don't think that Brother Cadfael is entirely instrumental in resolving this one, I genuinely believe that between Hugh Beringar and Father Radolphus they would have figured it out, but Brother Cadfael gives us, the reader, a good reference point and a way to meet the major players as the drama unfolds.

There is no reason why someone who hasn't re
Jun 19, 2010 Laura rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Susanna, Hayes
Just arrived from USA through BM. Another great masterpiece by Ellis Peters. I must continue to read this Brother Cadfael series.
Kate Forsyth
If you like historical mysteries set in medieval times, you'll enjoy these books - they're really very good.
Feb 27, 2014 Margaret rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I remembered seeing this episode of Cadfael, but I couldn't remember the my memory is refreshed. Derek Jacobi reading these is perfect for that. The saga of the Potter's Field begins with the Abbey, but not in the Abbey. While plowing a field given to the order, the bones of a woman are found. Nothing to reveal her identity or cause of death remains. And so the story begins. It unfolds with the relaxed pace of all the Cadfael stories, in its own time. The mystery is solved and luckily n ...more
Jan 21, 2015 Sharon rated it really liked it
After discovering a body buried in a field recently transferred to the Abbey of St. Peter and Saint Paul, Cadfael, Abbot Radulfus and Sheriff Hugh Beringar set out to discover the identity of the woman and who murdered her. Their investigations lead them first to the woman's husband, recently taken orders at the abbey and previously a Potter, then to an itinerant peddlar and eventually to the son of the original owner of the land, a young man who had entered orders at Ramsey, an abbey quite a di ...more
Dec 12, 2009 D.w. rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
I have been ploughing through these this last few weeks. Ploughing being an intentioned pun. I have told sometimes of the sequencing of a body, of a suspect, of a result if it was too obvious. Well here we have the body in the very first chapter. It works wondorously well. Throughout the series we have the vocabulary that Cadfael uses lend further to the depth that these stories give the times. Perhaps not what really took place, but giving the entire series a character.

We see that well fleshed
Women tend to be nearly invisible in medieval stories. Peters wasn't so bad about this, but even she drops into it occasionally. Thus in the previous book (The Heretic's Apprentice) there's a mention in one paragraph of a maid who appears nowhere else in the book.

This irregular invisibility is probably the explanation of how a woman's body can show up unexpectedly in the too-close plowing of a field, and nobody can say who she might be. Or rather, they can say who she MIGHT be, but can't be sure
Tiffany Wacaser
Aug 25, 2009 Tiffany Wacaser rated it really liked it
It's been over a year since I've read a Brother Cadfael mystery. I had forgotten why I enjoy Ellis Peters so much. I love how she recreates the medieval world so well. I love her descriptions of Abbey life. Her characters are excellent. I love how Brother Cadfael is such a part of abbey life, but his perceptions and experiences reflect the broad and varied life he led before taking his vows.

Anyhow, reading this book was different for me for a couple of reasons. First, I made a decision NOT to sk
Jul 17, 2010 Kathryn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010
This is the first Brother Cadfael mystery that I had not read before, and I thought it a very good one; Brother Cadfael is able (with a good deal of help, to be sure) to determine who did what to whom to create the inevitable dead body, who appears mysteriously, and who has been buried so long as to obscure cause of death and identity. (One would not think there were many unknown dead bodies around Shrewsbury, but apparently such could happen.) For those not wishing to read further, I loved this ...more
Jul 20, 2012 Nancy rated it really liked it
I love the entire Cadfael series. By reading them in rapid succession I'm able to see the breadth of it and compare each single book against the whole. The first 13 books (A Morbid Taste for Bones through The Rose Rent) are superb. (As I said in my review, I do not enjoy reading book 12 The Raven in the Foregate due to the antagonist, but the book itself is still quite good.)

Books 14 Hermit of Eyton Forest and 15 The Confession of Brother Haluin feel like a stumble, like they were written on au
The Hobbit
#17 in the Chronicles of Brother Cadfael. Shrewsbury Abbey acquires a new plot land. When the filed is plowed, a woman's skeletal remains are found, buried with a crude cross made of branches in her hands. The cause of death is not evident to Brother Cadfael. Who is the woman? How did she die? Was she murdered? As questions are asked and speculations are gossiped, two of the possible suspects are members of the Benedictine Order. And one of them is lying!
May 11, 2016 Tracy rated it liked it
Some months ago a man named potter entered the Abbey to become a monk and gave his land to the church. Now, as it is being plowed for planting, the remains of a dead woman are found buried there. Brother Caedfael must trace back to each of the owners and vagrant users of the property to solve the crime. I always enjoy a departure from today's hard core murder mysteries to those more lightweight and less violent.
Feb 05, 2014 Linda rated it really liked it
The Abbey of St. Peter and St. Paul acquires a plot of land near the Abbey from a priory four miles away. The land is known as the Potter’s Field, because, Ruald, the man who had lived on it for years was a potter. Ruald had recently joined the Abbey to become a monk; Ruald’s wife had supposedly gone away with another man. When the field is plowed, the body of a woman in a shallow grave is found; people assume that Ruald has murdered his wife. The plot thickens when someone else claims proof th ...more
May 03, 2014 Sue rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, england, medieval
The Abbey has just taken possession of a plot of land in a transaction that is a swap due to proximity. A couple of the brothers evaluate the land and determine that a portion of it would best be plowed and planted. In doing so, a woman's body is unearthed. The great mystery is: who is she and what happened? Shortly after this, Sulien Blount returns home from a distant Abbey where he was a novice. It was Sulien's family who had originally owned the land where the body was found and it seems as ...more
Jun 27, 2015 Jim rated it really liked it
In THE POTTER’S FIELD Brother Cadfael uses his remarkable investigative skills to discover the facts of a “cold case”. The skeletal remains of a woman are found at the edge of one of the abbey’s fields when it is ploughed. The woman had been buried with some care, but not with a proper funeral. Who was she, how did she die and why was she buried secretly? These are the questions to which he seeks to find answers.

This is yet another pleasing combination of mystery and historical fiction by Ellis
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500 Great Books B...: The Potter's Field - Ellis Peters 1 2 Jul 14, 2014 10:03PM  
  • The King's Bishop (Owen Archer, #4)
  • Badger's Moon (Sister Fidelma, #13)
  • The Prioress' Tale (Sister Frevisse, #7)
  • The Difficult Saint (Catherine LeVendeur, #6)
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)
  • Dead Man's Ransom (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #9)
  • The Pilgrim of Hate (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #10)

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