October 17, 2002

The Hermit of Eyton Forest, by Ellis Peters

This is a much later book than A Morbid Taste for Bones (see previous review) and it's interesting to see how the character has developed and changed in the meantime.

The most notable thing is the change in Brother Cadfael's standing. He begins as a minor, if important, member of the Abbey community; he has to work the angles to make things come out the way he wants them to. By the time of this book, though, he's the acknowledged expert on certain things, and well trusted.

Another notable thing is that the cast of continuing characters has solidified; every successful amature sleuth needs a friend among the constabulary, and Cadfael's is Hugh Beringar, the local Sheriff. Hugh didn't appear in A Morbid Taste for Bones; here, his friendship with Cadfael is a matter of long-standing. Ambitious Prior Robert and his friend the obsequious Brother Jerome are still around, but the dreamy, unworldly abbot of the first book has been replaced by the no-nonsense Radagulf, and Prior Robert is clearly on Radagulf's leash.

But the real question is whether the quality has slipped, and I can fairly say that it hasn't. I'll be looking for the other books in the series.

Posted by Will Duquette at October 17, 2002 04:32 PM