In his herb garden at the abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Shrewsbury, Cadfael is assigned a new helper. The young boy Godric is very quickly discovered by Cadfael to in fact be Godith, the daughter in hiding of Adeney, a high ranking follower of Maud. And King Stephen has just captured Shrewsbury castle from Maud’s followers.
In the past, King Stephen has been very lenient with his captured enemies and has quickly forgiven and released those that he captured who then immediately defied him again. So, King Stephen decides to make an example in Shrewsbury and hang the 94 people still in the castle when captured (of course, he regrets this barbaric act soon after it is completed). While retrieving the corpses for burial, Cadfael and his helpers discover that there are 95 instead of 94 and one of them died in a different manner than the others. Meanwhile young Godric/Godith finds an injured young man near the river in the Abbey grounds.
In this book we meet Hugh Beringar and the beautiful Aline for the first time as they are both in Shrewsbury to pledge their loyalty to King Stephen. Hugh is exactly the person able to match his wits against Cadfael.
Cadfael takes on the challenge of helping Godith and her young man escape, identifying the unidentified corpse, and finding a killer. All the time looking over his shoulder to determine if Hugh Beringar is friend or foe.
Book Published 1979