A Prayer for the Damned: A Mystery of Ancient Ireland (Mysteries of Ancient Ireland)
In February of 668 A.D., Fidelma of Cashel and her companion Eadulf are about to get married. Again. Their initial trial marriage of a year and a day has ended and they are about to embark on a permanent partnership. As the sister to the King of Muman, Fidelma's marriage ceremony is a major event in the kingdom of Ireland and the High King, as well as kings of the other Irish kingdoms and other major figures are going to be in attendance. One not so welcome guest is the fanatical Abbot Ultan, who advocates the radical position of celebacy for all religieuse and feels that Sister Fidelma's upcoming nuptials are an abomination. On the eve of the ceremony, Abbot Ultan is found murdered in his chamber. Worse still, one of the most distinguished guests, the King of Connacht, has been seen fleeing from the scene and is charged with the murder. Quickly Fidelma, who is appointed in the King's defense, discovers that Abbot Ultan is not the pious man he was thought to be, and has numerous enemies amongst those assembled for the wedding. Her wedding delayed, the high born guests restless and querulous, and the murder and it's aftermath threatening to cause chaos throughout the Kingdom, it's up to Fidelma to uncover the murderer--and the truth behind the murder itself--if the often tenuouos peace of 7th century Ireland is to be maintained.
"Cold is the wind that brings strangers."
By Luan Gaines "luansos" - October 19, 2008
It would not be outrageous to claim Tremayne's Fidelma of Cashel an original feminist, albeit one on the cusp of an emerging society that will eventually relinquish the Church in Ireland to the overarching dictates of Rome. But in 668, Ireland is yet a confederacy of kingdoms, the Church only recently declaring the laws of celibacy, dictated in part by the need to retain Church property upon the death of clergy, property that otherwise enriches the families of men who have served the Church. Ultan of Cill Ria is a true believer, a venal abbot who has forsaken a life of crime for the forgiveness of religion. Seeking to entrench his power, the abbot has a mission: to demand his abbey be acknowledged the center of the Church in Ireland and to dictate the direction of the Church as subservient to Rome, women ascribed to subordinate roles to men. No longer are women allowed to be priests; now Abbot Ultan seeks to establish the dominance of men in all matters.
In 668 AD in the Five Kingdoms (ancient Ireland), Abbot Ultan is acting as the emissary for Bishop Segene, the Abbot of Ard Macha. He travels the country seeking to sell the concept that Segene would be lead abbot. Both men adhere to the strict laws of a sub-group of Rome State who believe the church holy cannot marry; they each believes it is their calling from God to do whatever it takes to insure others follow their religion as well including bribes, coercion and force.
Ultan and his retinue head to Cashel in the Kingdom of Muman where King Colgu's sibling Sister Fidelma is about to take the vows to make her marriage of a year and a day to Brother Eadulf permanent. The abbot arrives to voice his strong objection to two church officials marrying. Before he can make his displeasure known, someone murders Ultan. The wedding ceremony is postponed while the bride and groom investigate the homicide in which one f the kings of the Five Kingdoms is the prime suspect... read more
Who Should Marry?
By W. Easley "Opa" - June 18, 2012
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... read more
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