Sister Fidelma Novels by Peter Tremayne

Has anyone read the Sister Fidelma novels by Peter Tremayne?

  1. Are they good?
  2. Are they faithfully Catholic?
  3. Is there any particular order one should read the novels in?
  4. I noticed there is at least one book that is actually a bunch of short stories…should those be read before or after or in any particular order in conjunction with the novels?

Thanks in advance.

I read one or two of them and enjoyed them a lot.
They are very well written and seemed pretty faithful to me.
Sister Fidelma is one of those people, like the Murder She Wrote woman, who just keeps running into murder situations. Perhaps it was more common in the middle ages. She is very wise and always knows the right thing to do or say, and tactful which she needs to be considering her position in society, and being a woman.

Hmm, I’ll have to check those out!

Have you read the Sister Agatha murder mysteries by Aimee and David Thurlo? Very good! :thumbsup:

Tgey are usually well written, they show a good working knowledge of Church history but they are not especially Catholic at all points as that is not Peter Beresford Ellis’s (Tremayne is merely a nom-de-plume) intent. They are best read in sequence as Fidelma’s life develops and she marries and has a child and her relationship along the way is interestingly developed.

…She gets married? Does she stop being a sister?

No, you have to understand how the Irish Church of the day worked - for example there were a number of religous houses where couples would live together and raise their children in the service of God. Also, some understanding of Irish society is neccesary, the books make this a main point. Women in this period in Ireland were far less restricted in many ways than women in other parts of Europe and could be found in most of the major professions and could hold their own property and had freedoms not accorded to women in most other European societies of the day. Also, marriages under the Brehon law fell into a number of categories, Fidelma and Eadulf (her Saxon husband) first marry as a trial marriage which lasts for a year and a day, later they enter into a permanent marriage. There were a large number of different marriage types, marriages in which the man had the most property, in which the woman had the most, which were temporary, which were permanent etc. Even rape was counted as a type of marriage, but one obtained through cruelty and force.

Mind you a contrary theme in writings of the day that have survived is some monks and clergy rejecting women’s company as inviting man to sin and others arguing that this is ridiculous and that all men owe their exsistence to a woman. There’s a tension between the two points of view that’s still apparent after 14 centuries or so.

Seriously? *The nun and the monk have premarital sex and concieve a child out of wedlock? *Is this a series of mystery novels or an American soap opera?

Just when I thought I found good fiction, faithful to Catholicism, a monk and nun have sex.

Why did that have to happen?

Must good catholic fiction be limited to Chesterton?

May I suggest that you do a little reading up on your history, especially your history of the development of Western Christianity?

The Sister Fidelma series is set in the 7th Century, mainly in Ireland, and has, as part of its background, some of the conflicts between the churches that we now call the Celtic Church and the new ideas emanating from Rome.

You have obviously no knowledge of the conhospitae (mixed religious houses) or the fact that it was only in the 11th Century that celibacy was enforced on the religious by Pope Leo IX - even then it was some centuries before that edict took effect.

Neither, it seems have you any knowledge of ancient Irish Brehon Law as you make an uneducated comment about premarital sex. Fidelma and Eadulf first get together under the legal trial marriage as outlined in the law of Lánamnus.

The Sister Fidelma series accurately reflects what was happening in 7th Century Ireland, and does not seek to put anachronistic modern Catholic ideas into a time period where they had no validity.

If you want “modern Catholic fiction,” then you should look elsewhere, and close your mind to how things developed at the period.

If, however, you do want to learn about this period, then you may get some information, and book references, on our FAQ pages.

David Robert Wooten
Director, International Sister Fidelma Society
PMB 396
1643B Savannah Hwy
Charleston, SC 29407

I think I would like to read these books that are suggested…I wonder if I can buy them in the US?

Aw, you beat me to it :smiley:

For anyone interested in the Brehon Laws, there is a legal handbook HERE

So they have sex AFTER the trial marriage?

If so then forgive my misunderstanding.

A foolish point - again shows ignorance of Brehon Law. So far as Fidelma and Eadulf are concerned they get formally married under the law at the end of the trial legal period (see A Prayer for the Damned).

David Robert Wooten
Director, International Sister Fidelma Society
PMB 396
1643B Savannah Hwy
Charleston, SC 29407

“foolish”?? What’s the answer? Did they have sex before or after marriage? Stop talking to me about being ignorant of brehon law. I assure you, everyone and their mother is “ignorant” on this issue unless they’ve thoroughly studied it. Simple question, just answer it.

And I asked forgiveness for my misunderstanding (depending on the answer). There is no need for your insulting tone.

I am happy to report I was able to find both series at my library, but the only had 2 books of each author…However, I did find them both on Amazon USA and can buy good used volumes if I like them enough to read the rest of their books

I read a bit from each author and I must say I like the style of both a great deal…

Three days and no answer. Do they have sex before or after the brehon “trial marrage”?
If anyone knows the answer please tell me.

I don’t know if St Paul ever heard of the “trial marriage” or what he would think of them, or whether he would approve of people having sex during a “trial period” prior to swearing that they will Permanently be united together…not to mention God himself for that matter…
But that’s another issue. Right now I just want to know, did the monk and nun have sex Before or After the trial marriage?

I must say I don’t think Mr Wooten’s reply was of the best calibre when it comes to manners. Only a minority of people in the world will even have heard of the Brehon laws, let alone have any knowledge of them. The laws for a couple are set out below:-

They would have had sex after the trial period ordinarily, also it was possible to be married and celibate. There were customs where partners would not have sex within marriage due to vowing to have a spiritual marriage. Although that’s not the case with Fidelma or Eadulf it’s worth pointing out. Also the Ireland of this period was a combination of Christian and pre-Christian customs and to be honest the status of women in Ireland in this period was far higher than in much of continental Europe.


I thought his reply was pretty rude and insulting not just to the OP, but to me as well since I had never heard of the Brehon laws. I’ll tell ya, I requested one from the library, but I’m going to cancel it right now. I no longer have any desire to read it w/ someone like that the head of the organization.

I would think that over for a bit…I just got the book and I think it is really worth reading…It is a pity to let someone being rude to ruin something you might enjoy

I am really happy with the book and also the one about Sr. Agatha

Oh don’t let that rude reply put you off, they are quite well-written books, although I admit that post wasn’t the best advert they could have had.

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