The cloistered walls of Shrewsbury Abbey have always protected Brother Cadfael from the raging Civil War. But when fighting
escalates between Empress Maud and King Stephen, the war takes a deadly step closer to him. Taken prisoner in the battle for
Maud's land is Olivier de Bretagne, Brother Cadfael's own son- born as a result of a brief encouter thirty years earlier.
Now Brother Cadfael resolves to plead for his son's release at a peace conference scheduled to take place in Coventry; but
there is no sign of Olivier there. After much soul searching, Cadfael makes the difficult decision to break his monastic vows,
leaving Coventry without permission- because he knows he must do everything in his power to find his son.
In his twentieth
chronicle Brother Cadfael is involved in an investigation of a uniquely personal nature, for as he observes, 'Before I was
a Brother I was a father.