1990 "First Printing: March 1990" stated; The Mysterious Press publishers, New York; hardbound with lime green and black boards and gilt lettering along spine; very good condition; decorative dust jacket very good.
The Heretic's Apprentice is a medieval mystery novel by Ellis Peters set in June 1143. It is the 16th novel in the Cadfael Chronicles.
A returning pilgrim from the Holy Land brings a dowry gift and mind fresh with ideas, leading to charges of heresy and a murder in his household, at the time for celebrating the translation of Saint Winifred's bones to Shrewsbury Abbey. Brother Cadfael, Abbot Radulfus, and Sheriff Hugh Beringar work together to find the murderer, and more difficult, the motive for murder. Bishop Roger de Clinton and an Augustinian canon of the Archbishop of Canterbury bring out the challenge of deciphering true religious belief from heresy, on the border with Wales in the midsummer days of 1143.
The story takes place from 19 to 27 June 1143.
Just across the Channel, so close to home, William of Lythwood dies after a seven-year pilgrimage to the Holy Land. His servant Elave carries his master's body back home to Shrewsbury, straight to the Abbey where the funeral will take place. Elave shares the sad news with William's wool- and vellum-trading household in town, and delivers the dowry gift meant for Fortunata, his foster daughter. Not all the household is happy to see Elave return to town. His insecure replacement for the clerking work charges Elave with heresy, charges taken all too seriously by a visiting Augustinian canon from the Archbishop of Canterbury. Abbot Radulfus handles this issue with due seriousness, but with a cooler head than the peremptory canon.
Once aware that his job is in no way threatened by Elave, Aldwin leaves to recant his charges at the Abbey. His body is found in the river next morning by Cadfael. Sheriff Hugh Beringar and Madoc of the Dead Boat join to hunt for the killer. Elave is surprised by Fortunata, grown beautiful while he was away. Others in the household are taken more by the new dowry unseen in a magnificent box. Fortunata, drawn into the testimony about the supposed heresies, is drawn also to Elave. For his safety from the canon, Elave is held in a solitary cell in the Abbey, now a suspect of both heresy and murder.
Girard of Lythwood returns home, gone just a week to get the local wool clip ready to sell, to learn all the changes at once: his uncle home from his pilgrimage but dead and buried; his clerk murdered; his head shepherd Conan taken by the Sheriff; Elave home and suspected...