In 1144, the Benedictine Abbey at Shrewsbury, home of herbalist-humanist-sleuth Brother Cadfael (The Summer of the Danes, etc.), has extended its hospitality to Brother Herluin and his novice attendant Brother Tutilo--both soliciting help for the ravaged Abbey at Ramsey, many miles away, left in shambles by the marauding forces of the Earl of Essex, now vanquished. Soon, they've collected alms, timber, and some willing workmen. Handsome young Tutilo has also used his beautiful voice to soothe the dying Lady Donata and has attracted the interest of the slave girl singer who's traveling with French troubadour Remy and his servant BÇnezet. As Tutilo's little band gets ready for the trip back to Ramsey, heavy rains put the Church's treasures in danger. All hands work to move them to higher ground. Only after the Ramsey group has left is it discovered that the reliquary of St. Winifred has disappeared. Its eventual reappearance and the confession of the thief pale next to the dramatic and tragic events that follow. Through it all, to the satisfying finale, Cadfael remains his benign, intuitive, appealing self. The pace sometimes slows to a near standstill; the elegant prose is sometimes excessive--but, for the patient, the reward is finely wrought transport to another time.