Paul Doherty: Bloodstone

24 Festive Tasks: Door 18 – Thanksgiving, Book:

Read a book with an autumnal cover, set in New England, where a turkey shows up in the story, with a turkey or pumpkin on the cover, or with the theme of coming together to help a community or family in need.


As my book for this square, I listened to Paul Doherty’s Bloodstone — and I’m very happy to finally have done so. There are very few medieval mystery series that I find are on the same level as Ellis Peters’s “Brother Cadfael” series: this just may be one. It’s more “muscular” in tone — and Doherty’s Brother Athelstan, while certainly cognizant and compassionate about the hardships experienced by his fellow men, is decidedly more prosecutor / judge than the wise, benevolent (and occasionally sorrowful) teacher that is Cadfael — but it’s exceedingly well-researched, both the setting and narrative tone are phantastic, and, like in Peters’s books, the narrative is firmly grounded in the belief systems and moral and social code of the period.

If all the books of the series are as grim as this one, this won’t be a series I can easily imagine binge-reading; also, one of the things I particularly appreciate about Cadfael is the wide knowledge and life experience that he has gained as a consequence of having fought in the Crusades before coming to the cloister, and I’m not sure to what extent Athelstan is able to match that (though he, too, seems to have reached the place where the series finds him by a somewhat unorthodox route, which can only be to the good). Anyway, I’m glad to have finally discovered the series and am looking forward to reading more of its installments.


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