There are some similarities in what they do, but they are overall very distinctive in their depiction of medieval England. Perhaps the most important distinction between Peters and Doherty is the role of religion and the Christian faith in their work. Cadfael, after a lifetime of waging war, enters the Benedictine order and devotes the rest of his life in service to God.
Historical Mysteries I
Thus Cadfael observes all that occurs with a benign and forgiving eye for the foibles and iniquities of humankind, and it is this spirit of charity, in the truest Christian sense, which lends such a remarkable feeling of warmth and humanity to the work of Peters. Readers trust in Cadfael to have the wisdom and compassion to do everything within his power to set the disordered situation to rights.
Doherty has, with one exception, used primarily secular figures as his detectives, such as Hugh Corbett, a clerk in the court of Edward I. Another distinctive difference between Peters and Doherty is the settings of the novels, both temporally and geographically.
The Cadfael novels are set during the mid-twelfth century in Shrewsbury, a small town. The medieval world which Peters portrays is generally cleaner and quieter than the pestiferous and odiferous world of Doherty. These differences exist partly because of the differences between the rural and urban communities of the Middle Ages, though neither was certainly clean by modern standards. The sheer numbers of people dumping refuse on the streets and alleys or rivers could make a big difference, most assuredly, between Shrewsbury and London. But more important than this, however, is simply the difference in styles of the writers.
Peters, though she creates vivid landscapes, is less interested in certain aspects of medieval life, while Doherty zestfully describes the sounds and odors of medieval life to give his works a distinctive flavor which often seems harsher and more realistic than that of Peters, insofar as the activities of daily life are concerned. Despite these differences in approach, both Peters and Doherty have created vital and believable stories and characters.
One characteristic that both share is attention to the political situation of the times. Peters very deftly weaves her stories into the civil strife between King Stephen and his unhappy cousin Maud, who is trying to wrest the throne of England from him. Doherty, too, cannily uses the political intrigues of the period to his advantage. The medieval chronicles are chock-full of enough tales to keep even an industrious writer like Doherty busy for years to come.
By writing under four different names, Doherty can utilize different periods and different settings to great advantage. Most of the works under his own name, Doherty, follow the adventures of the clerk, Hugh Corbett, during the reign of Edward I — Corbett first appears in Satan in St.
As Paul Harding he is writing what is perhaps his best series about Dominican friar Athelstan; these books are set in London in the late fourteenth century. Athelstan serves as clerk to Sir John Cranston, coroner of the City of London, and thus takes part in a number of murder investigations. Finally, as C. Grace, Doherty has created a female series character, Kathryn Swinbrooke, a physician and apothecary who plies her trade in fifteenth-century Canterbury. The first in this series is A Shrine of Murders St. With his diverse settings and series characters, Doherty offers snapshots of medieval England and France at differing times.
Peters offers her readers a view of medieval England during a particular time in its history, but she also provides a fascinating introduction to medieval culture and intellectual life as well. Many of the books in the series present various medieval ideas which are quite different from modern thinking, but Peters explains them easily.
For example, in The Sanctuary Sparrow Morrow, , the jongleur Liliwin seeks sanctuary from his pursuers in the abbey church. The Pilgrim of Hate Morrow, involves miracles and a pilgrimage; Monks-Hood Morrow, explores some thorny points in medieval Welsh law. So the reader is left in no doubt that they are in for a history lesson and they get one; and it is the positive master class we have come to expect from Paul Doherty.
This is history red in tooth and claw and Doherty has proved, in more than fifty novels over a variety of historical settings, that when he gives a history lesson, readers sit up straight and pay attention. He was awarded the Herodotus Award, for lifelong achievement for excellence in the writing of historical mysteries by the Historical Mystery Appreciation Society. The documentary received mixed reviews. The Daily Mail summarised the evidence, concluding "the truth about Elizabeth's romantic life and possible parenthood will continue to fascinate generations to come.
The documentary examines some controversial theories as to why Elizabeth never married From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Paul Doherty. Archived from the original on Retrieved Categories : births Living people English people of Irish descent English mystery writers English historical novelists Writers of historical mysteries People from Middlesbrough Officers of the Order of the British Empire English male novelists Writers of historical novels set in Early Modern period.
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House of the Red Slayer: A Brother Athelstan Medieval Mystery 2 - [PDF] Fantasy Books
There's only one Cranstone, thank God! Following three mysteries at once lessens the excitement level and the solutions, when they come, seem a little too glib. The wager one, also solved, of course, by Athelstan, seems particularly contrived. But the characters of Athelstan and Sir John main tain the interest. The power of the crown is still invested in John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, as Richard, the king, is still just a boy, and the kingdom is seething in discontent. There is economic hardship in tbe countryside where the peasants are planning a revolt, organised by the mysterious leader of the Great Community of the Realm, who calls himself Ira Dei , the anger of God.
Gaunt is involved in winning over the great merchant princes of the capital when his plans are plunged into chaos by a series of bloody and mysterious murders. Sir John does not think much of the merchant princes: "They are," he tells Athelstan, "a group of foul, wrinkled, double-speaking, painted turds! And there is also a problem of disappearing traitor's heads from the spikes on the Tower of London. After a complicated prologue, the story moves on at quite a brisk pace. There is a lot going on everything from a chilling exorcism to an attempt to murder Sir John , and Athelstan and Sir John continue to make a highly effective team, but, if you have read the previous books, it all starts to feel just a little too familiar, as when Sir John constantly calls Athelstan monk instead of friar.
He does this to get a reaction from Athelstan, but by now it is getting too repititive. But the background, as always, is well described, and the characters still seem real. French privateers are attacking the southern coast and threatening London itself. Sir John Cranston has other problems too: not only does he have to sit in court and listen to allegations of witchcraft, but he is puzzled by the crimes of a particularly skilful felon.
Meanwhile his clerk, Brother Athelstan, is preparing a mystery play - and trying to placate members of his church council, all of whom want to play the part of God. But more serious trouble follows when an English flotilla of warships, with God's Bright Light in its number, drops anchor in the Thames. During the first night the entire watch of thee men aboard the ship disappears without trace.
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A series of murderous and strange incidents leads to Sir John and Brother Athelstan being summoned to resolve the mysteries on board the ill-omened warship. In particular, they are concerned to search out the truth behind the death of Sir Henry Ospring, who was viciously stabbed to death in a local tavern. Their investgations uncover scandal, sexual misbehaviour, murder and even treason - then they find hemselves right in the thick of a bloody battle with the French raiders.
Sir John, the portly wine-loving coroner of the City of London, is his usual ebullient entertaining self, whether he is declaring a toad a ward of court, swearing such oaths as "Devil's bollocks" and "Satan's tits", or fighting for his life. But he "was known for his bluntness and lack of tolerance for fools as well as for his scrupulous honesty", and, underneath all his bravado, he is at heart a kindly man.
No wonder that Brother Athelstan, despite his forebodings, enjoys his company. There are some good comic moments as when a bully boy demands of Sir John "Who are you, you big fat turd? Or when an old woman asks Athelstan to say a Mass for her dead husband who, she tells him, "died sixteen years ago today. The Mass is for the repose of his soul. Oh yes, Father, and in thanksgiving.
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There are also exciting action sequences as when the French pirate boats attack, "and the night air was shattered by screams and yells Athelstan felt himself pulled back by Cranston and stared at the archers who were defending their boat from the Frenchmen. They were hand-picked master bowmen; they fired one arrow whilst keeping another between their teeth. Athelstan guessed each one must be shooting at least three a minute.
They worked in a silent, cold way. Now and again a French arbalaster replied and an archer fell screaming to the deck. He was pulled away and another took his place, Athelstan hurried to those who had been wounded.