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Sister Fidelma series Pheter Tremayne

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Ash
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Sister Fidelma series Pheter Tremayne

Post by Ash » Mon December 22nd, 2008, 10:32 pm

A friend of mine told me about these. I am not big into mysteries, but the historical fiction aspect of these -Celtic Ireland, 6th century, is intriging me. Has anyone read these? Comments? I esp need to know if I should start from the first, or if there is one that it the best that I should start with?

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Susan
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Post by Susan » Mon December 22nd, 2008, 11:15 pm

[quote=""Ash""]A friend of mine told me about these. I am not big into mysteries, but the historical fiction aspect of these -Celtic Ireland, 6th century, is intriging me. Has anyone read these? Comments? I esp need to know if I should start from the first, or if there is one that it the best that I should start with?[/quote]

I haven't heard of this series, but it sounds like something I would like, so I Googled it. Here's a website devoted to the series with a list of books in reading order.

http://www.sisterfidelma.com/
~Susan~
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annis
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Post by annis » Tue December 23rd, 2008, 3:42 am

i've really enjoyed this series. Fidelma is not only a nun of the Celtic Christian Church, but an Irish aristocrat, which gives her plenty of clout in early medieval Irish society. She has also been trained as a dálaigh, an advocate of the ancient Brehon laws. This provides Fidelma with plenty of cases to solve and situations in which to act as judge.

<The Brehon Laws were statutes that governed everyday life and politics in Ireland until the Norman invasion of 1171 (the word "Brehon" is an Anglicisation of breitheamh (earlier brithem), the Irish word for a judge). The laws were written in the Old Irish period (ca. 600–900 AD) and are assumed to reflect the traditional laws of pre-Christian Ireland. These secular laws existed in parallel with, and occasionally in conflict with, Canon law throughout the early Christian period.>

Although each book is a complete story dealing with a particular case, there is also the underlying ongoing story of Fidelma's life and relationships, so I'd definitely suggest reading the books in order.

Peter Tremayne is a pseudonym for Peter Berresford Ellis, a well-knowm expert on Celtic culture and history. He's written several books on Celtic myth and legend, and many years ago also wrote several fantasy and horror stories based on Celtic legends. They weren't bad either- I still remember "Ravenmoon"
Last edited by annis on Tue December 23rd, 2008, 3:46 am, edited 2 times in total.

Carla
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Post by Carla » Tue December 23rd, 2008, 12:17 pm

I agree with Annis, they are best read in order so you can follow the development of Fidelma's relationships. I've read some of them but not all. They're enjoyable reading, although I've found some of the mysteries rather slight for my taste. I also confess that Fidelma's know-it-all superiority sometimes irritates me, and I rather he think he overplays the contrast between Ireland as a beacon of learning and England as a backwater of ignorant superstition. I think it more likely that both societies had some highly educated people, like Fidelma (whose background is the approximate equivalent of attending Ivy League or Oxbridge today), and a lot of ignorance and superstition, and my guess is that the proportions were not much different. So little is really known about the period that I can't say he is actually wrong, but I wouldn't swallow his history whole either. I'd say they are pretty good as historical mysteries, but apply the usual pinch of salt to the historical background.
Last edited by Carla on Tue December 23rd, 2008, 12:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
PATHS OF EXILE - love, war, honour and betrayal in Anglo-Saxon Northumbria
Editor's Choice, Historical Novels Review, August 2009
Now available as e-book on Amazon Kindleand in Kindle, Epub (Nook, Sony Reader), Palm and other formats on Smashwords
Website: http://www.carlanayland.org
Blog: http://carlanayland.blogspot.com

Ash
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Post by Ash » Tue December 23rd, 2008, 1:26 pm

Carla, thanks for that caveat. You are right - people are all human after all, and no one culture or country has a monopoly on our good or bad traits. My interest in the history is more about church history and the conflict between the Celtic and Roman more than anything, but I will take it with a grain of salt. Its such an interesting subject. I first got interested reading the Cahill book about the Irish (which I realize has its own problems) and later read Elaine Pagel and Karen Armstrong for more information. If anything it will give me an atmospheric sense of the conflict. Hopefully the story itself is good. I'd love to fall head over heels with a series, with many more books awaiting to be read! :)

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Post by Carla » Tue December 23rd, 2008, 2:20 pm

If you're interested in the Irish and Roman churches, start with the first in the Fidelma series, Absolution by Murder. It's set against the backdrop of the Synod of Whitby in 664, which is Bede's great set-piece for the conflict between the Irish (Celtic, if you like) church and the Roman church. As I remember, the mystery is reasonably intriguing. I guessed whodunit very early on, but that might just have been a lucky guess.
PATHS OF EXILE - love, war, honour and betrayal in Anglo-Saxon Northumbria
Editor's Choice, Historical Novels Review, August 2009
Now available as e-book on Amazon Kindleand in Kindle, Epub (Nook, Sony Reader), Palm and other formats on Smashwords
Website: http://www.carlanayland.org
Blog: http://carlanayland.blogspot.com

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EC2
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Post by EC2 » Tue December 23rd, 2008, 4:33 pm

Must admit this series has never grabbed me, but since I barely dipped my toe and it was ages ago, I can't remember anything specific - other than I wasn't grabbed, which is just sayin' but hardly helpful :rolleyes:
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

www.elizabethchadwick.com

annis
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Post by annis » Tue December 23rd, 2008, 4:53 pm

If you're interested in the Celtic Christian Church, Ash, you might like to try Melvyn Bragg's novel "Credo", published as well under the alternative title "The Sword and the Miracle" It begins in Ireland and moves to Britain. The main character, Brega, is another Irish aristocratic type, a seventh century Irish princess who also suffers from pig-headedness and a conviction that she is right!

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Post by Carla » Tue December 23rd, 2008, 5:06 pm

[quote=""EC2""]Must admit this series has never grabbed me, but since I barely dipped my toe and it was ages ago, I can't remember anything specific - other than I wasn't grabbed, which is just sayin' but hardly helpful :rolleyes: [/quote]

I sort of have a similar reaction, in that the Fidelma series hasn't 'grabbed' me in the way it evidently has lots of other people. I thought it might be peculiar to me, because it can be difficult to read in my particular time period (mind you, the chance would be a fine thing) without getting distracted by nit-picking. But I think it's also because I just can't seem to warm to Fidelma as a character. I'm not that big on historical mysteries as a rule, and the ones I like tend to be because of an appealing character or two (e.g. Brother Cadfael and Hugh Berenger in the Cadfael books). Fidelma and sidekick Eadulf just don't do anything for me. Also, I find the prose style and the dialogue rather on the pedestrian side, but that's in the eye of the beholder.

Annis - I was going to mention Credo but didn't because I haven't managed to read it (yet). It still lurks on my TBR list.
PATHS OF EXILE - love, war, honour and betrayal in Anglo-Saxon Northumbria
Editor's Choice, Historical Novels Review, August 2009
Now available as e-book on Amazon Kindleand in Kindle, Epub (Nook, Sony Reader), Palm and other formats on Smashwords
Website: http://www.carlanayland.org
Blog: http://carlanayland.blogspot.com

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