The Prayer for the Damned is an excellent novel of historical fiction. This book has several ingredients that I desire in this type of novel: the story must accurately portray the civilization; the scenes must picture settings as they existed at the time; the story must be true to the culture as it existed. The Prayer for the Damned meets each of the criteria.
Sister Fidelma of Cashel, a town in Ireland, lived in the seventh century A.D. Although most of Europe was suffering the Dark Ages, Ireland was a progressive land where gender discrimination was rare. In Ireland any citizen could aspire to any profession. Sister is a very talented and accomplished woman. Fidelma has a graduate education where she earned the degree of anruth, similar to a masters degree today. Fidelma works as a dalaigh, an advocate in the courts. As an advocate she investigates problems and crimes and advises both church and civil authorities. A dalaigh may prosecute, defend, or even serve as judge in a criminal proceeding.
A Prayer for the Damned is the seventeenth in the Sister Fidelma series. As this story begins, Fidelma and her partner Brother Eadulf are preparing for their wedding ceremony. Since Fidelma is also the sister of the local king, distinguished guests from throughout Ireland have gathered for the celebration. The day before the feast one of the attending bishops is killed and the head of one of the main Irish tribes is accused of the deed. He asks Fidelma to be his defense attorney, so they delay the wedding.
Full of suspense and intrigue, this excellent mystery novel discusses several controversial issues of the time: which bishop should be superior to the rest? Should people sworn to the religious life be allow to marry? One of the attendees, fanatical Abbot Ultan and his assistant Brother Dion, demand they be heard on the issue of marriage laws. The comments on both sides of the argument clearly present the issue as it was debated at the time. The rationale offered by Ultan and his people is interesting and the rebuttal offered is a clear exposure of the real reasons for the controversy.
A Prayer for the Damned is a good mystery. It is also a wonderful dissertation on historical issues that affect people 14 centuries later. The characters appear to be real people, full of doubts, agendas, fears, and flaws. This a rousing tale full of action and intrigue that kept my interest at a high level. I recommend this book.
- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Minotaur Books (13 November 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312348339
- ISBN-13: 978-0312348335
- Product Dimensions: 17.2 x 2.9 x 23.2 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 522 g
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