I know that I previously mentioned that I had signed up for scribd. One of the big reasons that I decided to take the plunge and pay the $8.99 per month for the subscription was that the entire Brother Cadfael series was available.
I read the first book, A Morbid Taste for Bones, years ago when I checked it out from the library. I was interested, but it really wasn't the right time for me to get into this series. Right now, though, is apparently the right time.
I have this thing about gorgeous world-building. It doesn't matter to me if a world is real, historical, or fantasy - but authors who can create a fully-realized universe for their characters that immerses me so deeply that I can see it have my deepest respect and admiration. Ellis Peters has that in spades in this series. Set during The Anarchy, the period of succession conflict that occurred between 1135 and 1154, the series addresses issues of both secular and religious justice.
I thoroughly enjoyed both of these books. In One Corpse Too Many, we are introduced to Hugh Beringar, a young man who swears allegiance to King Stephen, and who becomes the representative of the Crown's justice in the district. Beringar is an extremely likeable character, upright and with a deep well of integrity.
We are also introduced to Godith, a resourceful young woman who takes refuge at the monastery by pretending to be a boy. I know that Beringar reappears, I'm not sure if we ever see Godith again, although I am hopeful that at some point in the series she will make an appearance. Peters does some interesting things with star-crossed romances, particularly in this outing for Brother Cadfael. He has a penchant for match-making that is pretty funny in an older, celibate monk.
Monk's Hood is set during the winter, and has a nice little set piece about Christmas. In addition, Cadfael's first love, Richildis, reappears and Cadfael has to save her son from a wrongful accusation - and likely execution - for the murder of her second husband. She further humanizes Cadfael, and, thank god, she doesn't turn out to be a silly woman. I hate, hate, hate it when an author takes the first love of one of his/her characters and turns her into one of those silly caricatures of an older woman who never grew up and remained exactly the same level of young and silly (usually 30 pounds heavier, but with the identical, now inappropriately youthful, hair style) her entire life. It pisses me off endlessly.
Hugh Beringar has been named Deputy Sheriff. He reappears and is cemented as Cadfael's secular partner-in-justice, which will presumably put him at odds, from time to time, with his superior the Sheriff, as well as, potentially, the king. The deceased, Gervase Bonel, certainly doesn't come of as a particularly good guy. He is bent on worldly destruction, lording his wealth, and using it as a method of power and control, over everyone around him. He's basically a total douche, and no one is particularly sorry that he's dead. Peters does a brilliant job of showing how an otherwise decent person can be driven to murder by unremitting social injustice. In Monk's Hood, the murderer is much more sympathetic than the victim.
The Fourth Chronicle is St. Peter's Fair. There are twenty of them all together.