Kathryn's Reviews > The Virgin in the Ice

The Virgin in the Ice by Ellis Peters
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May 06, 10

bookshelves: 2002, 2010, reread-books
Read in May, 2010

Ist recorded reading: September 2002

I had forgotten just how good this particular Brother Cadfael mystery is; I had read it in September, 2002, and remembered, as usual, very little of the book. But this is indeed one of the best ones, and is the one I would recommend to anyone who wished to read just one Brother Cadfael mystery.

In November of the Year of our Lord 1139, word comes to the Abbey of the sack of the town of Worcester. King Stephen is in possession of the Crown, but the Empress Maud holds the town of Gloucester, from whence those who attacked the town of Worcester came. Refugees from Worcester make their way to the Abbey; and on the last day of November word comes of three people who fled from the sack but who have not reappeared yet; the thirteen-year-old son and eighteen-year-old daughter of a deceased noble, who were under the care of the Benedictines of Worcester. They fled with the daughter’s tutor, one Sister Hilaria; and their noble uncle, Laurence d’Angers, cannot make search for them himself, because he is recently returned from the Crusades to his home town of Gloucester, and is thus considered an enemy of the Crown, not least because he is a supporter of the Empress Maud.

Thus matters stand until the fifth of December, with the snow laying deep across the countryside, when an urgent message comes to the Abbey at Shrewsbury, requesting Brother Cadfael’s aid; a monk has been brought half-dead to he priory of Bromfield, who had been beaten and left to die in the snow, and the Prior of Bromfield fears for the monk’s life. So Brother Cadfael makes his way forth into the snow to the priory of Bromfield; and for the rest of the book, it seems that every major character is going out into the snow for one purpose or another. Brother Cadfael hears of lawless men, who suddenly appear from somewhere to rape, kill, pillage, and burn at outlying settlements, and who apparently hope that the attention of King Stephen and the upholders of his law are concerned elsewhere; and it is Brother Cadfael who finds a young woman, wearing only her shift, dead and frozen into a stream. Whoever killed her put her into the stream before the last iron freeze, and her eyes gaze upward when Brother Cadfael looks down as he crosses over the stream.

Again, this is one of the best Brother Cadfael books (in my humble opinion), and is one that I regret having finished, even though I am now free to move to the next mystery in the series.
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