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The Devil's Novice

The Eighth Chronicle of Brother Cadfael
Narrated by: Vanessa Benjamin
Series: Brother Cadfael, Book 8
Length: 8 hrs and 27 mins
4 out of 5 stars (10 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Outside the pale of the Abbey of Saint Peters and Saint Paul, in September of the year of our Lord 1140, a priestly emissary for King Stephen has been reported missing. But inside the pale, what troubles Brother Cadfael is a proud, secretive 19-year-old novice.
Brother Cadfael has never seen two men more estranged than the Lord of Aspley and Meriet, the son he coldly delivers to the abbey to begin a religious vocation. Meriet, meek by day, is so racked by dreams at night that his howls earn him the nickname the Devil's Novice. Shunned and feared, Meriet is soon linked to the missing priest's dreadful fate. Only Brother Cadfael believes in Meriet's innocence, and only the good sleuth can uncover the truth before a boy's pure passion, not evil intent, leads a novice to the noose.
©1983 by Ellis Peters (P)1997 by Blackstone Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"Each addition to the series is a joy. Long may the Chronicles continue." (USA Today)

What listeners say about The Devil's Novice

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    3 out of 5 stars

Spoilt by awful narration

I am a lover of the cadfael mysteries but the narration by Vanessa Benjamin is appalling which made it impossible to listen to. She does have a beautiful voice but her interpretation of the male voice is ludicrous! To have a female narrate a story of mostly male characters with the lead character requiring a mature male welsh accent is bizarre. Such a disappointment. The variation in volume of her voices was painful and caused me to quit listening after chapter four. Sorry audible u really got this one wrong.

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    5 out of 5 stars

Why females try to read male parts or males the opposite.

It does no do to have a female try to read male roles. Not only does it spoil ones own idea of the character, bit, it is so badly done. It would be better to produce a good read without voice characterisations.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Steven
  • 10-11-2003

Poor Narration Detracts from Story

Much of the enjoyment of listening to The Devil's Novice is compromised because of poor narration. Technically, it often sounds like the narrator has a blanket over her mouth. Artistically, she sounds like a little kid trying to sound like Daddy when she attempts to portray a male character. And why use a female voice to read a novel that is primarily a cast of Benedictine monks, anyway?

The story, though, is pure Cadfael and well worth listening to.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Jane
  • 02-02-2017

Great book but disappointing narration

I bought this book despite other poor reviews of the narration because I enjoy the stories of Brother Cadfael and this was the only version available on Audible. I nearly returned it because the narration was so annoying. Why use a female for a book largely about male characters? In order to make the characters sound masculine the raises her voice, which leads to very uneven volume throughout the book between the narrative and the spoken sections. This was particularly annoying when listening in the car as it was hard to hear some parts. It was a pity she couldn't use a Welsh accent for Brother Cadfael. Please Audible, make versions of these books available in Australia with a male narrator. Those that are available by Stephen Thorne are excellent.

1 person found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Paul
  • 18-06-2009

An old recording

This recording of the story is very old fashioned. The reader is a woman, an odd selection for a story about a monastery i.e. all men, she puts on funny woman doing man voices for each character. I didn't get to the story, the reading was too distracting. Not worth the credit.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Amy
  • 25-12-2003

Why is a woman narrating this tale?

I love the Brother Cadfael series, and the story here is wonderful. The problem here is the narration. The sound quality is awfully muffled, and why did they have a woman narrate a tale about monks, for heaven's sake! 95% of the characters are men! The narrator is constantly trying to emulate the sound of men's voices (far too much) rather than just reading the story. I hope other Brother Cadfael tales are different.

7 people found this helpful

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  • ColinB
  • 08-11-2011

The Devil's Novice

The prospect of listening to another of this series was eagerly anticipated. However after enjoying the previous books narrated by a differnt reader I found this a dissapointment the narator was unable to convey for me the period, tension and excitement that makes these book come alive
I will be more careful in future when selecting narators

4 people found this helpful

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  • Sybil
  • 28-07-2015

Poor obvious story

Story plot was evident very early on and it was also obvious that the family dynamics would change (I'm trying not to reveal anything)
Reader was dreadful, kept changing pronunciations and into nations so that it jerked along. The readings by Derek Jacobi are In comparison superb and I think him lazy.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Zero Wolf
  • 03-06-2013

Nightmare narrator

Bought all available Cadfaels for a long journey, as they are reliably entertaining, but found the ones by this narrator unlistenable. She emphasises and pronounces crazily...eg. she says it "sonORous"... and gives all male characters ridiculous Winnie the Pooh voices... I had to return all three by her...

3 people found this helpful

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  • Richard Bradbury
  • 25-10-2018

Dreadful reader

Many readers are able to do the voices of both genders, this reader decidedly cannot. She also didn’t do her homework and missed the fact that Cadfael is supposed to be Welsh!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Shez from England
  • 20-10-2018

awfull voice

I love Cadefael books have for years love audio as my sight Is now bad but this voice is not right the monk is welsh and has a sing song welsh accent this narrator tries to make him sound like a bad tempered school master,
She lost it somewhere ,their is no welsh lilt just the impression she believes shouting loudly makes people think your a dominant personality . Hugh sounds like a bumpkin farmer he is a knight of the realm and with fluent Norman French his English would be touched by that
I cant listen it grates and annoys me I have heard many men read by women very successfully and men who read women's parts just as well but you have to understand and know the character and Cadefael is a welsh monk with a soft accent and a mature voice he is commanding but not by shouting by personality and knowledge
please re-do these books this is a sad way to have Ellis peters books end

1 person found this helpful

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  • N. Dyne
  • 15-05-2018

sorry Vanessa but it need a male Welsh accent

gave up. got to chapter 6 so really made an effort but the narration just doesn't work. lovely voice but totally miscast. I love the Cafael series and so very disappointed.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mary Carnegie
  • 21-05-2017

Poor Cadfael, genre Flowerpot Men

Narration barely tolerable, but I'm fond of Cadfael and his society. Our hero sounds more pompous then wise. and I'd mistrust him from the start for his fluctuating accents (never convincingly Welsh).

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 30-05-2020

Another great story in the Cadfael series,

As always, I enjoyed this installment of the Cadfael series. Though I have to say in this case I feel it was poorly read by Vanesa Benjamin. The volume of her voice varies greatly and in some instances is hard to hear what she is saying. I'm not a fan of the intonations she uses for varies characters. So far, I'd say Stephen Thorne is the supreme reader of these novels, particularly in the Welshness of Cadfael's voice.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 30-04-2020

Great story, dreadful narrator

Cadfael is Welsh, but is read in the hectoring tones of a pompous Englishman. Mark apparently comes from Yorkshire, and Hugh is no better. And surely someone setting out to read a tale set in a Monastery would have researched the proper pronunciation of the office of Compline.

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  • Adrian Mudd
  • 03-09-2019

terrible voicing if Hugh & Cadfael!

reading well paced, but oh dear, worst ever schoolgirl attempts at sounding adult male voices. totally unnecessary.