The cover of one Ellis Peter's medieval CSI Brother Cadfael stories--which has to be one of the best series ever for both quality and consistency in every aspect of the writer's craft through twenty volumes. There is no falling off.
I have been offline due to sheer exhaustion. I ran away from the net to indulge myself in such comfort reads as the Cadfael books and did damnall else. From a critical standpoint, I think one could spend a lifetime analyzing the virtues of this series.
A couple of posts ago I enthused about the figurative language and imagery in another series. But the Cadfaerl stories reminds me that imagery must not only be clever, it must be consistent with the period, the characters and the settings. (I retain a sense of anachronistic outrage over a story set in the 12th century I read once that had someone collapse "like a sack of potatoes.")
With Ellis we may put away such suspicion. We have such passages as "time was snapping at his heels like a herdsman's dog," "Behind them the looming clouds multiplied with black and omnious speed, dangling like overfull udders of venomous milk."
And " In the hall, the servants had begun to kindle the first torches and set them in their sconces, but in every corner, and in the smoky beams of the lofty roof, darkness gathered and clung, draped cobwebs of shadow."
Moreover, so good are her descriptive passages in general--whether of river, fields or interiors, of moonlight, starshine, or sunrise, of storms or seasons and their passing--that I remember and recognize these landscapes, seen that torrent, felt that heat or cold. She has found wonderfully visual words for those sights and the inchoate thoughts and feelings they engendered in me since childhood.
But besides the beauty and skill of her language, it is reassuring to read stories that invoke the values of courage, honour and duty and the basic decency of humankind.