The Chalice of Blood

Written by Peter Tremayne
Review by Ilysa Magnus

It is 670 A.D., and Sister Fidelma is contemplating leaving the world of the religious and committing herself solely to her life as a dalaigh, an advocate of the courts of the Five Kingdoms of Celtic Ireland, hoping someday to become Chief Brehon. Perhaps her life with her companion, Brother Eadulf, the father of her son, her partner in so many previous investigations and in life – but a man who is committed to a religious community – is doomed to failure?

Not so fast. In what is probably the best and most intriguing of the series in a long while, Fidelma and Eadulf are called upon to discover who has murdered an eminent religious scholar, killed in a monastic cell locked from the inside. Who wanted the manuscripts taken from the monk enough to kill for them and to prevent Fidelma and Eadulf from uncovering the truth by attempting to murder them as well?

In the process of their investigation, Fidelma and Eadulf must weave their way through the competing religious doctrines of the time, through tribal politics and through everyday Celtic life experience in order to find the murderer. It is this attention to historical fact which makes Tremayne’s Fidelma books so valuable – we really do get a fine-tuned sense of the Celtic religious, legal and social world from the author, a well-known expert in Celtic history. It is certainly better read after others in the series, but I can also envision it being a stand-alone read. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it highly.