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Title: The Confession of Brother Haluin
Series: Brother Cadfael #15
Author: Ellis Peters
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Format: Digital Edition
Brother Haluin almost dies and confesses to the head Priest and Cadfael. He had an encounter of the flesh with a young woman, who he got with child 18 years ago. Haluin gave the mother herbs from Cadfael’s herbariam to end the pregnancy but the mother told Haluin that it ended up killing the mother along with the child. And that was when Haluin entered the abbey, in despair.
He ends up surviving his ordeal, he gives himself the penance of walking to the dead woman’s tomb and keeping vigil for a night. Haluin’s feet being crippled due to the ordeal, Cadfael is tasked with helping him keep his vow.
In a string of coincidences that can only happen in a murder mystery, we find out that Haluin was lied to by the mother and that the young woman was married off and the child raised as that other man’s. Said young woman is now a nun as old as Haluin. Their daughter has love issues all of her own which are neatly resolved when it is revealed that she is NOT the blood daughter of the Old Duke. An old lady servant is killed by the nun’s mother to keep everything secret. Because the old mother did all of this because she wanted the young man back in the day and he wouldn’t commit adultery with her, as she was married. So she starts this whole chain of events.
Everyone except the old mother ends up being reasonably satisfied with how things turn out and Brother Haluin and Cadfael return to their abbey.
This was a typical Brother Cadfael mystery. He’s just an observer like he has been in the last several and has very little to do with the actual story. So that’s where I’d normally give this a 3star rating. But this time around a lot of the story is driven by ideas of absolution and atoning for you own sins, ie, working to get your sins forgiven. Haluin makes it a point that if he can’t fulfill his vow, he won’t be forgiven. And it is stated outright that he doesn’t feel like he’ll be forgiven if he doesn’t DO some sort of very hard penance.
Normally the catholic practices and theology are kept in the background of these books. This time around though, they played a much bigger part and cut right across everything the Bible actually says about forgiveness of sins. When I hear about earning forgiveness for your sins, well, that just sets my staunch Protestant soul ablaze. I won’t go into the details, as this is not a theology post. But it really took this book down a peg for me. I’ve actually been surprised this hasn’t happened before.
I’ve got 5 or 6 more Brother Cadfael books to go and I’m really hoping I can stick it out to the end. But to be honest, these are getting boring; that’s almost as bad as un-Biblical theology in my mind!
- The Hermit of Eyton Forest (Book 14)
- The Rose Rent (Book 13)
- Raven in the Foregate (Book 12)
- An Excellent Mystery (Book 11)
- The Pilgrim of Hate (Book 10)