I was so glad to find this book available in such a pretty edition (slipcased hardcover Omnibus of three volumes) from a fellow PBS member, as I first read it in three different volumes from a library many years and many states ago and haven't seen it since.
The creator of the beloved Cadfael has created in this series another domain in the detective monk's world--Shrewsbury is a nearby location, but the monks of the abbey are minor but significant characters. Rather, this trilogy focuses on Harry, a nobly-born mason and artist who makes his fame in the world by his craft, having given up his name and lands in a conflict early in the first volume. His great accomplishment is the "Heaven Tree," a beautiful stone church on the border of Wales. His artistic genius occasions his opportunities and his personal firceness occasions his troubles, though he acts with great loyalty and integrity. THese bring his demise by the end of the first book, and the second and third follow the young life of his son, who takes up his cause and his enemy, though with an unconvincing taking up of his artistry in stone.
The characters of this series written almost fifty years ago are satisfying in the way of conveniently noble questionable characters, and tricks of the plot that enable people to come short of many opportunities for bad deeds. But what a lovely world to live in for the duration of reading this book! The ending is satisfying and a good mirror to the beginning, to the first volume. Enjoy!