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The Potter's Field

(Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #17)

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  5,217 ratings  ·  188 reviews
When a newly plowed field recently given to the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul yields the body of a young woman, Brother Cadfael is quickly thrown into a delicate situation. The field was once owned by a local potter named Ruald, who had abandoned his beautiful wife, Generys, to take monastic vows.

Generys was said to have gone away with a lover, but now i
Kindle Edition, 248 pages
Published August 5th 2014 by Road (first published September 1989)
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Average rating 4.13  · 
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 ·  5,217 ratings  ·  188 reviews

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Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
Actual rating 3.5 stars.
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 inves ...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
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
Very complex, engaging, and with sharp characterization.
Sep 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
“Earth is innocent. Only the use we make of it can mar it.”

Murder, maybe. Red herrings, false accusations, and budding romance abound. Mystery's video got close to right.

“I made a choice. It was even a hard choice, but I made it, and I hold to it. I am no such elect saint as Ruald.” “Is that a saint? It seems too easy.”

In the midst of a twisting whodunit, Pargeter explores the nature of a religious vocation and issues of life and death. Well plotted.

“If I am become a mere subtle, suspicious old
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
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
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
A body turns up in a field that has been donated to the abbey, and Brother Cadfael becomes part of the group determined to find out who this woman is as well as who killed her. She has been dead a year or more, so it is impossible to recognize who it is. Some wonder if it might be the woman who lived there, left behind by her husband who decided he was called to become a monk, although it has been heard on good authority that she left with another man over a year ago.

There are various suspects,
"In stillness and quietness whispers are heard clearly, and the rustle of a leaf has meaning." (Loc. 2037-2038).

Some books are like macaroni and cheese, bread pudding, rice pudding, a savory mushroom soup: warm and satisfying, yet comforting. Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael mysteries are like this. They are safe (they play fair), challenging (I can't let my mind run across the page, but have to pay attention), and only somewhat about death (more about life).

Her Potter's Field is all of these. It
I've said it before, some of these Cadfael stories are wonderful and memorable, others are more easily forgotten. Mostly the later ones, I find.
The Potter's Field is also a solid, well-told tale, the middle ages are alive and kicking. The case, an unidentifiable female body hastily buried and then uncovered "accidentally" - not really groundbreaking (no pun intended).
Plus of course the endless fight for kingship. Sometimes I wonder what those nobles and kings would say about today's powers and
Shawn Thrasher
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brother Cadfael mysteries are a true pleasure, more than simple amusements, and adding Derek Jacobi's rich, adept narration makes this an extra special treat. I like a "whodunnit" that makes me guess "whodunnit," and while I had my suspicions about the murderer, I had no idea as to how or why until the last pages: to me, a perfect mystery. Ellis Peters can write a setting that is sharp and strong as a steel blade; Brother Cadfael mysteries are intelligent, historically accurate, believable and d ...more
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! ...more
J. Lee Hazlett
Another solid Cadfael story, and arguably the one with the most twists yet. The character illustration is as brilliant as always, and concerns both near to Shrewsbury and far give this tale a wider scope than most others in the series. I wish that I had many more Cadfael adventures left to read, and that the end of the series wasn't just a few books away. ...more
Oct 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
As I have said before, I am thoroughly enjoying this series! I did not see the ending coming at all, in any way. Reflecting on the plot as it evolved, I can only say that Ellie Peters was masterful! Well done!!
Robin Mandell
Round up to 4.5. My favorite Cadfael book so far.
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? ...more
Oct 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Liar, liar!

Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive. This the basis for this Cadfael mystery. Once again a death but is it murder and if so, who is the dead person and how and why did they die? You'll have to read the book!
Laura Vera
May 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would say 4.5 stars. This is one of my favorite Brother Cadfael books, but the very end was just too sad. I have a hard time thinking that Brother Ruald did the right thing by joining the order and abandoning his wife. I just can't come to terms with that enough to give this book 5 stars. ...more
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
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
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
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
Another Cadfael mystery finished and I am heading fast towards the end of the series. This one was tricky and I admit I didn't get the solution but a few pages before the end, when things were made clear by Ellis Peters.

The abbey gets to exchange a field with another monastery and while they start ploughing it, they discover the skeleton of a female. The family that donated the field to begin with gets involved and especially the younger son, who had become a Benedictine novice but changed his m
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 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is very intriguing and brings up things I have never thought about - for example - on of the major characters in the book decides to leave his wife and become a monk. He was allowed to give everything up to join the church and she was left with nothing and not even allowed to remarry. This is where the story begins and I will not reveal anything else. It brings up many questions and has an interesting and sad, but satisfying ending.
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. ...more
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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

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)
  • Saint 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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