The Heaven Tree Trilogy (The Heaven Tree / The Green Branch / The Scarlet Seed)

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9780446517089: The Heaven Tree Trilogy (The Heaven Tree / The Green Branch / The Scarlet Seed)

Writing as Ellis Peters, Pargeter has charmed and intrigued readers with her bestselling Brother Cadfael medieval mysteries, soon to be a TV series. Now for the first time, all three of her acclaimed Heaven Tree novels, set in 12th-century Britain, are available in the U.S. in this one handsome volume.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

A robust and majestically peopled and paced medieval trilogy-- a stormy tale of thunderous dark passions and spiritual triumphs-- in a one-volume collection of two hitherto-out-of-print novels and one never-before published here: from the author, as Ellis Peters, of the hugely popular Brother Cadfael mysteries. The Heaven Tree (1960) begins the story of stone mason Harry Talvace, who is brought to ``Parfois,'' in Shrewsbury, by Ralf Isambard, to create a church. In the reign of King John, however, English/Welsh conflicts heat, and Isambard, Lord of Parfois, orders Harry horribly killed for treason. Meanwhile, Isambard's mistress, Benedetta, refusing marriage, is bound to the corpse to perish but narrowly escapes death. Then, in The Green Branch (1962), young Harry, son of the craftsman--who had finished his church in chains- -matches wits with the Lord of Parfois, awaiting revenge. Finally, in The Scarlet Seed--in its first US appearance--all the old horrors and griefs, rages and revenges, will shrivel and dissipate. The Lord Isambard (tall, lean, ``a dark recollection of beauty'') reveals a heart in agony and a painful growing love of his ``son,'' young Harry. Eventually, while war rages betwen the English and Welsh, old man Isambard and Benedetta will die magnificently, Aida- fashion, in the boarded-up church; and young Harry will find a bride, see war as both an Englishman and Welshman, witness the end of Parfois--and of hatred--and know that his father's church, now in fragments, ``will wear out the stone. Eyes that have once seen it see all things differently thereafter.'' Pargeter's work is remarkable for its consistent high seriousness, and, here, once again, she manages to give appropriate shading to both the barbarous and spiritual in the medieval mind. These are mighty beings and Pargeter gives them mighty deaths and revelations. Occasionally the prose may wobble on the edge of purple, but there's always a quick-step recovery into Pargeter's usual supple and solemnly lyrical narration. A quite grand affair. -- Copyright 1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

British novelist Pargeter is better known as Edgar Award-winner Ellis Peters, creator of the popular Brother Cadfael mysteries and the Inspector Felse series. This reissue contains her early historical novels, long unavailable in U.S.: The Heaven Tree , The Green Branch and The Scarlet Seed . Written in 1960, 1962 and 1963, respectively, they are well plotted and proficiently detailed in their depictions of domesticity, history, architecture and warfare, but they may disappoint some Cadfael fans, for they lack the crisp, canny characterization and punchy action of Pargeter/Peters's craft at its most maturely honed. The setting of each is the raucous 13th century, when King John "Lackland" clashed with the Pope and the Welsh nobility. In The Heaven Tree , sensitive Harry Talvace's artistic vision drives him to design a great church on the Welsh/English border for imperious patron Ralf Isambard, but his compassionate impulses make him a misfit in harsh feudal society. Rivalry springs between Harry and Isambard over Madonna Benedetta, a statuesque, titian-haired ex-courtesan who lives with the lord but loves the artist. Isambard condemns her to die with Harry, but one of the intended victims escapes to resurface in The Green Branch , the trilogy's best read. Here, Harry's son grows up vowing to slay the hated Isambard and gets trapped in the villain's castle, while the Welsh subplot features an adulterous liaison and its brutal aftermath. The Scarlet Seed wraps up the action with revised relationships and gothic surprises. Although not quite up to the high standards of Pargeter's later work, these colorful narratives--which rousingly depict artistic, political and romantic passions--are nonetheless a treat for her fans.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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