The Heaven Tree Trilogy

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1993 Hard cover 1st Warner Book Printing October 1993. New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Paper over boards. 899 p. Audience: General/trade. The Heaven Tree, the Green Branch ... and The Scarlet Seed. Read more Show Less

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
British novelist Pargeter is better known as Edgar Award-winner Ellis Peters, creator of the popular Brother Cadfael mysteries and the Inspector Felse series. This reissue contains her early historical novels, long unavailable in U.S.: The Heaven Tree , The Green Branch and The Scarlet Seed . Written in 1960, 1962 and 1963, respectively, they are well plotted and proficiently detailed in their depictions of domesticity, history, architecture and warfare, but they may disappoint some Cadfael fans, for they lack the crisp, canny characterization and punchy action of Pargeter/Peters's craft at its most maturely honed. The setting of each is the raucous 13th century, when King John ``Lackland'' clashed with the Pope and the Welsh nobility. In The Heaven Tree , sensitive Harry Talvace's artistic vision drives him to design a great church on the Welsh/English border for imperious patron Ralf Isambard, but his compassionate impulses make him a misfit in harsh feudal society. Rivalry springs between Harry and Isambard over Madonna Benedetta, a statuesque, titian-haired ex-courtesan who lives with the lord but loves the artist. Isambard condemns her to die with Harry, but one of the intended victims escapes to resurface in The Green Branch , the trilogy's best read. Here, Harry's son grows up vowing to slay the hated Isambard and gets trapped in the villain's castle, while the Welsh subplot features an adulterous liaison and its brutal aftermath. The Scarlet Seed wraps up the action with revised relationships and gothic surprises. Although not quite up to the high standards of Pargeter's later work, these colorful narratives--which rousingly depict artistic, political and romantic passions--are nonetheless a treat for her fans. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Beloved author Ellis Peters, creator of Benedictine sleuth Brother Cadfael, penned this superb trilogy under her real name nearly 30 years ago. ( The Scarlet Seed is being published here for the first time.) The story spans roughly the first third of the 13th century. Pargeter weaves her tale into the politics of medieval England and Wales, and her knowledge of the period is most impressive. The trilogy tells the story of Harry Talvace, nobly born, who has the soul and hands of an artist and mason. The subsequent two books follow the fortunes of another Harry Talvace, son of the first Harry. Pargeter's characters and her settings are vividly etched into the reader's mind. Writing feelingly about the creative genius of the artist and the complex bonds of loyalty that linked medieval men and women, Pargeter illumines a world distant in time and in outlook but makes that world immediate and unforgettable. Highly recommended for any fiction collection.-- Dean James, Houston Acad. of Medicine/Texas Medical Ctr. Lib.
Emily Melton
Best known for her Brother Cadfael mysteries written under the pen name Ellis Peters, Pargeter has also written historical fiction, including the three novels--"The Heaven Tree" 1960, "The Green Branch" 1962, and "The Scarlet Seed" 1963--that make up the Heaven Tree trilogy. The first two books in the trilogy are long out of print, and the third has never been released in the U.S., making the appearance of this omnibus edition a significant event for the author's many fans. Combining historically accurate facts with fiction, Pargeter traces the life of a thirteenth-century British family of master artisans, the Talvaces, whose passion is stone carving. Harry Talvace is apprenticed to a wealthy benefactor, Lord Isambard, whose dream is to build a majestic cathedral. Harry uses his skills to design and build the church but becomes embroiled in the passions, ruthlessness, and power struggles of the Isambards. Harry is eventually murdered, and his young son, also a stone carver, returns to war-torn Wales to avenge his father's death. Pargeter has created a masterful story with carefully researched and authentic characters, customs, and events. Her charismatic writing and near-magical storytelling skill transport her readers across the centuries to medieval Britain and keep them engaged for the more than 900 pages of this magnificent chronicle. Although the trilogy's length is daunting, readers who persevere will be well rewarded.
Kirkus Reviews
A robust and majestically peopled and paced medieval trilogy—a stormy tale of thunderous dark passions and spiritual triumphs—in a one-volume collection of two hitherto-out-of-print novels and one never-before published here: from the author, as Ellis Peters, of the hugely popular Brother Cadfael mysteries. The Heaven Tree (1960) begins the story of stone mason Harry Talvace, who is brought to "Parfois," in Shrewsbury, by Ralf Isambard, to create a church. In the reign of King John, however, English/Welsh conflicts heat, and Isambard, Lord of Parfois, orders Harry horribly killed for treason. Meanwhile, Isambard's mistress, Benedetta, refusing marriage, is bound to the corpse to perish but narrowly escapes death. Then, in The Green Branch (1962), young Harry, son of the craftsman—who had finished his church in chains—matches wits with the Lord of Parfois, awaiting revenge. Finally, in The Scarlet Seed—in its first US appearance—all the old horrors and griefs, rages and revenges, will shrivel and dissipate. The Lord Isambard (tall, lean, "a dark recollection of beauty") reveals a heart in agony and a painful growing love of his "son," young Harry. Eventually, while war rages betwen the English and Welsh, old man Isambard and Benedetta will die magnificently, Aida- fashion, in the boarded-up church; and young Harry will find a bride, see war as both an Englishman and Welshman, witness the end of Parfois—and of hatred—and know that his father's church, now in fragments, "will wear out the stone. Eyes that have once seen it see all things differently thereafter." Pargeter's work is remarkable for its consistent high seriousness, and, here, onceagain, she manages to give appropriate shading to both the barbarous and spiritual in the medieval mind. These are mighty beings and Pargeter gives them mighty deaths and revelations. Occasionally the prose may wobble on the edge of purple, but there's always a quick-step recovery into Pargeter's usual supple and solemnly lyrical narration. A quite grand affair.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446517089
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 10/28/1993
  • Series: Heaven Tree Series
  • Pages: 912

Table of Contents

The Heaven Tree 1
The Green Branch 379
The Scarlet Seed 641
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