Mysteries, Historical and Otherwise


The Heaven Tree Trilogy

by Edith Pargeter
review by Larry Gross

I've loved Ellis Peters' Cadfael series for years, but, having finished reading all volumes at least once, I wanted to investigate the books Edith Pargeter wrote under her own name.

Wanting to stick with the medieval period, I settled on The Heaven Tree Trilogy, all 900 pages of it: The Heaven Tree, The Green Branch, and The Scarlett Seed. It follows the growth and development of Harry Talvace and of his son, also named Harry, from 1200 until 1234.

This was Pargeter's favorite of all her works. I can see why. It's a wonderfully full, sweeping, detailed historical look into the turbulent years of King Henry's reign, into the Welsh ruler Llewelyn, his personality, his family, and his solidification of Welsh rule in the face of English rivalries. And into Sir Ralf Isambard, a complex ruler equally perpexed by his love, hatred and cruelty.

Above all, tho, it is the story of two artists, the mason Harry and his son. What makes an artist? How is he different from others? What do the dictates of his art mean to him in his \\\"real life\\\" situations? What part does art play in the progress of humanity? All of this in beautiful, flowing, sometimes romantic, sometimes startlingly realistic prose heightened to the level of poetry.

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