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The Virgin in the Ice by Ellis Peters, being the 6th chronicle of Brother Cadfael.

Here Brother Cadfael is thinking about fate and accidents of birth:

Well, they happen, the lightning-strokes of God, the gifted or misfortunates who are born into a world where they nowhere belong, the saints and scholars who come to manhood unrecognised, guarding the swine in the forest pastures among the beech-mast, the warrior-princes villein-born and youngest in a starving clan, set to scare crows away from the furrow. Just as hollow slave-rearlings are cradled in the palaces of kings, and come to rule, however ineptly, over men a thousand times their worth.

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