More than just your typical Cadfael medieval murder mystery, this volume in the ongoing series of The Cadfael Chronicles also features a storyline of the recognition of wrong, of conversion, and salvation. And it is this part of the storyline that is the focus of this review.
Faced with pending mortality, one of the protagonists recognises a great wrong in his distant past and, after recovery, resolves to make a suitable penance. The resulting pilgrimage is a difficult one – and features the obligatory untimely death that we’ve come to expect in each volume – but ultimately brings about peace of mind not only for that protagonists but also for many others who are incidentally associated with the original great wrong.
This is truly a conversion story for, although the primary protagonist is a long standing member of the abbey that is home to Cadfael who has come to embrace his monastic vocation, the accident that almost kills him forces him to recognise that he came to that vocation initially as a ‘second best’ option.
By the end of the volume, however, having discovered that his ‘great wrong’ was the result of anger and envy on the part of another, the protagonist has moved to a place in his life where the past is in the past, and at rest, and the now is embraced for the gift that it is.
I found this book, of all the books of The Cadfael Chronicles, the one that has had the most profound impact on me, being more than just a ‘good yarn’. This story was a morality tale in miniature and one that will occupy much in the way of thoughtful prayer.