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The Raven In The Foregate (1997)

The Raven in the Foregate (1997)

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4.02 of 5 Votes: 1
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0446405345 (ISBN13: 9780446405348)
mysterious press

About book The Raven In The Foregate (1997)

In December, 1141, the wheel has spun again, and this time left Stephen on the throne, if shakily. He begins shoring up his lead by gathering ecclesiastical and worldly authorities together to support him. This means that Abbot Radulfus has to go first, to (another!) legatine council, and then Hugh Beringar has to go off to a meeting of sheriffs, barons, etc...with the chance that he won't be confirmed in his post, which (you'll recall if you've read the earlier books) he inherited rather irregularly.In the meantime, the parish of Holy Cross (comprising the Foregate and the rural areas out of town) has lost its beloved priest, Father Adam, aged before his time (he was only sixty), by worry for his fallible parishioners. His death leaves many people bereaved, but most especially Cynric the Verger, a taciturn but kindly man. Cynric eulogizes him succinctly: "A sad,kind man,...a tired man with a soft spot for sinners." Others may condescend toward Father Adam for his want of learning, but his parishioners loved him for his compassion.It's the want of that same compassion that causes such hatred for his successor. There's no doubt that the young man is talented and learned; but he's sadly lacking in that 'charity' that is 'the greatest of these'. Some translations translate this term as 'love', but that's not quite an adequate translation. The English term 'love' is too broadwinged. What's meant here is familial love: merciful and generous; which doesn't despair of anyone, and doesn't put forth perfection as a minimum criterion for acceptance. Thinking it over, Father Ailnoth might very well have had a long, successful career if he'd stayed in royal courts, putting his learning to the service of Church and State, and not meddling in the affairs of ordinary sinners. There are some people who are lacking, not only in bedside manner, but even in the kind of generosity which can forgive "even unto seventy times seven". These people should NEVER be hired as spiritual counselors. And once the original mistake was made, Abbot Radulfus should have seen sooner that Father Ailnoth was completely unsuited to the job. Any man who would refuse to attend (and christen) a dying newborn because he won't interrupt his own prayers, and THEN refuse the dead child burial in sanctified ground because the child died before being christened is CLEARLY not suited to the job of parish priest.But before a recognition and correction of the mistake can be completed, Father Ailnoth ends up dead. There is no shortage of possible suspects. Many people were infuriated by Father Ailnoth's scrupulously cruel behavior. So the investigation has to be very careful, especially since most of the people in the parish have no intention of betraying any member of their community who might have been pushed too far.One of the things I've always liked about Hugh Beringar is that he has always respected community solidarity (indeed, even when it becomes a significant hindrance to his official duties, he's always recognized that, in the long run, it makes his job easier). So when people refuse to implicate others, he quite rightly respects their right to remain silent, and seeks information by other means. His sergeants and deputy aren't quite as understanding in that regard: which causes people to be all the more worried by the chance that he won't be confirmed in office. The obvious suspect is cleared almost immediately, but, because he is a fugitive as a result of the schisms in the land, he's often inaccessible for questioning. Brother Cadfael finds himself acting as an intermediary, asking questions and relaying answers to the authorities. The Church often takes this role in the troublous times. It's not quite a matter of the Church not having a dog in the races. The Church hierarchy has strong familial and social ties with the secular authorities, and several churches, monasteries, etc have already proved not very secure sanctuaries when the fire arrows start flying. Bur when looking for a 'disinterested' emissary, people tend to turn to the church.

Ellis Peters' medieval amateur sleuth, Brother Cadfael of Shrewsbury Abbey, solves a very baffling case in this Christmas mystery. Set against the backdrop of civil war, the story begins when Abbot Radulfus of Shrewsbury is called to Westminster, where King Stephen is to be confirmed - once again - as the ruler of Britain. His kin, the Empress Maud, has other ideas, even though the good citizens of the City of London have thrown her out in disgust over her vindictiveness and cruelty. Maud still has supporters throughout the realm, who at that very moment are trying to drum up more military aid for her - even in Shrewsbury, where more pressing domestic matters are foremost in the minds of the people. Their old Foregate priest, Father Adam, has died after a long and fruitful time as their spiritual shepherd. Indulgent and kind, he was much loved by his parishioners. Who will be replacing him? Radulfus was called away to Westminster, before a local man could be appointed to the task.When Abbot Radulfus returns from his stint with king and bishops, he brings with him in his entourage a widow and her comely nephew as well as a brand new priest for the Foregate. Recommended by Henry of Blois himself, to whom this tall, energetic and highly educated man acted as clerk, the man seems ideally suited for the task. Abbot Radulfus duly confirms this man, Father Ailnoth, as the new shepherd of the Foregate. Unfortunately for all concerned, Father Ailnoth turns out to be lacking two very important ingredients, humility and human kindness. Soon the complaints against his highhanded approach and downright vindictiveness reach the ears of Radulfus, who is racked with guilt over the appointment.Cadfael, meanwhile, gains a new apprentice, the young man who came with Abbot Radulfus and Father Ailnoth from Westminster. While his widowed aunt keeps house for Father Ailnoth, the young man, Benet, has been given employment in the abbey gardens under the beady eye of Brother Cadfael. Soon the amateur sleuth discovers there is far more to Benet than meets the eye.While the Hugh Beringar, newly appointed sheriff of Shrewsbury, is away on the King's business, the body of Father Ailnoth is discovered in a pond not far from abbey grounds. His head was smashed in. With so many suspects bearing grudges against the unjust and cruel priest, who should Cadfael suspect? The people of the Foregate clam up and say nothing for fear of accidentally giving away one of their own, but Cadfael's superior powers of reasoning soon get to the bottom of this splendid mystery.The underlying theme, that no one is without sin and therefore should not cast the first stone, even if they carry the title of priest and Father, is wonderfully handled here. I'm not religious, mainly because all the religious people I've ever met in my life have been of the Father Ailnoth variety and not like Father Adam at all. "Treat others as you wish to be treated yourself, namely with kindness and respect" seems an alien concept to the bible bashing brigade.It's a wonderful yuletide mystery, with a splendid bit of romance thrown in, best read when it's cold outside and a fire is crackling in your hearth. As always, the characters are realistically and beautifully drawn, the plotting is meticulous and there's plenty of historical detail to draw us into the medieval world of Brother Cadfael.

Do You like book The Raven In The Foregate (1997)?

This might be the Cadfael book that I like the least. For two reasons: 1) the character of Father Ailnoth is abhorrent and completely without compassion. And 2) I personally have a hard time separating the book's plot from the BBC/PBS adaptation's plot. I have strong memories of characters and events from the TV adaptation that are not in the book so the story becomes a bit of a muddle. (Most of the TV adaptations were pretty faithful to the books.) I think the TV Raven sticks with me more than the book Raven because the portrayal of the aforementioned Abhorrent Ailnoth was so very strong. That character just looms over everything. Like the rest of the Foregate, I'm glad when he's dead.I'd give the book three stars just because of Ailnoth, and because he seems to cast a pall over the entire book even after he's dead. However, I bump it up to four because there's some wonderful rhetoric from Cadfael, Hugh, and Abbott Radulfus regarding fallibility, sin and sinners. Also, the book rewards the reader by mentioning events and characters from several previous books, including lovely Torold Blund and Godith from One Corpse Too Many. And I love the scene at the end with Brother Jerome!

Another great installment in a stellar series. As always its a pleasure to spend some time in medeival England during the Civil War between King Stephen and his Cousin Maude. This time Shrewsbury's resident priest has died and Abbot Radolfus brings a new appointee direct from the retinue of Bishop Henry. When the man quickly alienates most of his perishoners and is then found dead on Christmas morning. Cadfeal and Berringer must discover if it was murder and if so who the perpetrator was.This was adapted for TV as part of the Cadfael programs but it diverged so widely from the book that it was pretty much a fresh new mystery. Again, the written characters are more well developed and eminently more likeable than their screen counterparts and there were characters in the TV episode that make no appearance in the book. This ones worth a read whether you've seen the TV episode or not. And siince they are so different they can both be enjoyed.

Shortly before Christmas in 1141, elderly Father Adam - the vicar of the parish of Holy Cross in the Foregate - passes away. Father Adam had been well liked. Abbot Radulfus brings Father Ailnoth to town as Father Adam's replacement. Unfortunately, Father Ailnoth quickly makes a number of enemies. During the evening of Christmas Eve, he is seen running off out of the Foregate, wings of his black cape stretched out behind him. He never returns. The body is found a couple days later drowned with a nasty wound at the back of the head. All indications are murder - but who since there were so many with cause? Another plot line has to do with a young man on the run trying to join up with the forces of Empress Maud. Hugh Beringar has been told to be on the lookout and spreads the word. I'm enjoying this series. The actual history at the beginning gets a little confusing, but thankfully it's only a few pages and is necessary to set the stage for the secondary storyline.

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