The Virgin in the Ice by Ellis Peters

The Virgin in the Ice is the 6th book in the incredible Cadfael medieval whodunit series. It is also the third book in the second Cadfael Omnibus along with ‘Saint Peter’s Fair’ and ‘The Leper of Saint Giles’.

This book has quite a different feel to it with Cadfael away from home in the frozen December of 1139. The war civil between King Stephen and the Empress Maud has flared up again with the city of Worcester becoming a casualty of the conflict. As a result, there are refugees from Worcester as far away as Shrewsbury and somewhere in the chaos, an orphan sister and brother, Ermina and Yves Hugonin and an accompanying nun, Sister Hilaria, have gone missing. Their uncle, Laurence d’Angers, has just returned from the Holy Land and is keen to search for them, but being of the Empress Maud’s faction, he cannot safely enter areas controlled by King Stephen.

Meanwhile, Brother Cadfael has travelled to another monastery at Bromfield to care for a desperately sick monk, Brother Elyas, who was attacked and beaten by marauding bandits. When Cadfael gets his first news of the missing trio, deputy sheriff Hugh Beringar, is quick to join him in Bromfield as his own house on Shrewsbury has become totally focused on his wife Aline and his new baby son (men not required or wanted).

Through many twists and turns in the plot, Hugh and Cadfael search for the missing Hugonins, and hunt down the murderous bandits attacking the area. Cadfael also helps to heal Brother Elyas mentally and emotionally as well as physically. The appearance of Olivier de Bretagne in this story marks an incredible moment in Cadfael’s life.

I love Cadfael at home, but I love him even more when he goes travelling, and this would have to be one of my favourite stories in the whole Cadfael series. The end of the story is a huge revelation that leaves you yearning for more and wondering where Cadfael will go from here.


Book Published 1982


See a full list of books by Ellis Peters/ Edith Pargeter

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