Brother Cadfael’s Penance by Ellis Peters

This is the 20th Cadfael Chronicle and is the last book in Brother Cadfael’s story. There is one further book in the series containing three short stories about Cadfael’s earlier life. Brother Cadfael’s Penance is contained in the 7th Cadfael Omnibus together with ‘The Holy Thief‘ and ‘A Rare Benedictine’ This was probably the best story so far and I only wish the series could continue. This book is a spoiler for much of the rest of the series, so don’t read this book until you’ve read the others.

With the ongoing war between King Stephen and the Empress Maud, Cadfael’s son – Olivier de Bretagne is taken hostage and is held without ransom in an unknown location. When the two warring sides decide to come together for a reconciliation council, Cadfael asks leave from Abbott Radulfus to attend the council and seek his son. The Abbott gives Cadfael leave to attend the council but to return immediately after.

At the council a man is murdered and an old friend of Cadfael’s – Yves Hugonin (see ‘The Virgin in the Ice’) is the prime suspect. In addition, Cadfael finds no clue to the whereabouts of Olivier at the council.

Cadfael decides that he must break his vows to continue the search for his son and to prove that Yves is innocent. And so begins Cadfael’s journey outside of the monastery, with Cadfael not knowing if the Abbott will accept him back on his return.

This was an amazing story as we really got to see inside Cadfael’s heart as well as that of Olivier de Bretagne and Robert of Gloucester’s son Philip. The book contained an amazing insight into the bonds between fathers and sons and what they will give up for each other.

The ending to this book was a very appropriate ending to the series, although I’ll really miss the series now that I’ve finished.

This has to be my favourite series of all time!


Book Published 1994


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

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