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

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  4,065 Ratings  ·  118 Reviews
Peters has long been a fixture on British bestseller lists, and her adherens on this side of the ocean multiply with each new edition to the Brother Cadfael series. The Potter's Field is the 17th chronicle of the medieval monk-detective from Shrewsbury.
Hardcover, 230 pages
Published December 1st 1990 by Mysterious Press (first published 1989)
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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
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Elena Santangelo
May 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
First of all, this was an audio book and the reader, Stephen Thorne, was absolutely excellent. (If you watch any Britcoms on PBS or remember the movie The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (1979), you've seen him act.) Every character voice was distinct, with a unique personality. His women's voices sounded like women. He didn't just read the book, he performed it. That alone rated a 5-star review.

The setting in Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael novels--12th century England--is always meticulously de
Nancy Ellis
Nov 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The monks begin to dig up a newly acquired field and find more than they expected.....a woman's body not long buried, thought to be that of the wife of their newest monk thought to have run away with another man. Another wonderful story from this amazing woman, transporting us back to the good old days of 12th Century England!
Good fun. Ellis Peters writes with attention to detail and sympathy for the middle ages, with an engaging mystery to boot. Who's not to like?
Robin Mandell
Round up to 4.5. My favorite Cadfael book so far.
Black Elephants
Apr 04, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 07, 2012 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
Sep 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Kate Forsyth
Aug 16, 2010 rated it liked it
If you like historical mysteries set in medieval times, you'll enjoy these books - they're really very good.
May 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Deborah Ideiosepius
The brother Cadfael novels are ones that I always mean to read, but which never seem to be there when I am in the mood for them. Thankfully this one was on the shelf at just the right time.

A field is deeded to the monastery, a field abandoned for a few years as the previous tenant, a potter, renounced the world and joined the monastery. As the field is put to the plow a corpse is revealed and brother Cadfael, who has many more liberties and a much wider range of experience and freedom than your
May 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this, the 17th Cadfael mystery, Cadfael's monastery is gifted a plot of land. When the monks begin to plow this plot, they unearth the body of a dark-haired woman. The body is not long buried, but long enough to make it almost impossible to identify. Cadfael is thus involved in two mysteries: who the woman was, and how she met her end. Soon after the body is exhumed, a young monk named Sulien, the younger son of a nearby manor, arrives after fleeing the destruction of his distant abbey. Sulie ...more
John Oswalt
Sep 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
One of the better Cadfaels. The central plot concerns a year-old, or maybe older, body of an unidentified woman that is discovered on Abbey land. Over the course of the book layers of mystery are peeled back, until we finally learn who she was and how she got there. It all makes sense in the end, and is quite well done.
Andrew Doohan
Another wonderful tale from the pen of Ellis Peters drawing on the life and times of the medieval monastic sleuth known as Brother Cadfael.

An unexplained death is, as we've come to expect, at the centre of this particular story, yet the twists and turns end up in a very different place than might be imagined as the journey unfolds.

Thoroughly enjoyable.
Jul 21, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Cadfael books, and usually I rate them 4 stars, but this one is more a 3.5. I think the ending felt lacking, and left more to this imagination than usual. I like my mysteries wrapped up in a bow, not just tied up, I guess.
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This had a more surprising (to me, anyway) ending than the others. The female characters in this book were especially interesting as well.
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love the twist ending!
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500 Great Books B...: The Potter's Field - Ellis Peters 1 4 Jul 14, 2014 10:03PM  
  • The King's Bishop (Owen Archer, #4)
  • The Prioress' Tale (Sister Frevisse, #7)
  • Act of Mercy (Sister Fidelma, #8)
  • The Difficult Saint (Catherine LeVendeur, #6)
A pseudonym used by Edith Pargeter.

Edith Mary Pargeter, OBE, BEM 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 Horsehay (Shropshire, England), she had Welsh ancestry, and many of her sho
More about Ellis Peters...

Other Books in the Series

Chronicles of Brother Cadfael (1 - 10 of 21 books)
  • A Rare Benedictine (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, prequel stories 0.1-0.3)
  • 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)
“Every man has within him only one life and one nature ... It behooves a man to look within himself and turn to the best dedication possible those endowments he has from his Maker. You do no wrong in questioning what once you held to be right for you, if now it has come to seem wrong. Put away all thought of being bound. We do not want you bound. No one who is not free can give freely.” 9 likes
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