The Raven in the Foregate

As you can see above, this is number 12 in the Cadfael series. Edith Pragter, writing as Ellis Peters, first created Cadfael in 1977 with this episode published in 1986. I have nine more to finish the series. Pragter began writing novels in 1936, mostly standalones, and later three other series, but Cadfael is her most successful.

This story follows a familiar line. Once again, the ongoing war between Stephen and Maud for the throne of England has taken another sharp turn. The Abbott is called to London and returns with a new parish priest, father Ailnoth. With him is his housekeeper and her nephew.

Ailnoth is so harsh that everyone in town wants him gone. No one is surprised when he is discovered floating in the mill pond. With no clues, nearly every is a suspect.

As I’ve said before, writing about another time period requires research and Pragter has done the work. But it helps that she lives in Sherewsbury where some of the monastery still stands, as well as the castle. I suspect there is a good supply of history surrounding the Twelfth Century and a stronghold for King Stephen.

Pragter does write long descriptions and gives us much detail about the characters, perhaps more than many readers would preferer. I like it.

Mike Lawrence

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