From the sweeping hills of Argences to the port city of Cologne overlooking the River Rhine, Etienne and Avielle find themselves drawn by the need for redemption against the backdrop of the First Crusade.
Heeding the call of His Holiness, Urban II, to free the Holy Land from the infidel, Etienne follows Duke Robert of Normandy across the treacherous miles, braving sweltering heat and snow-covered mountain passes while en route to the Byzantine Empire.
Moved by Peter of Amiens’ charismatic rhetoric in the streets of the Holy Roman Empire, Avielle joins the humble army of pilgrims. Upon arrival in Mentz, the peasant Crusaders do the unthinkable, destroying the Jewish Community. Consumed with guilt, Avielle is determined to die fighting for Christ, assuring her place in Heaven.
Etienne and Avielle cross paths in Constantinople, where they commiserate over past misdeeds. A spark becomes a flame, but when Avielle contracts leprosy, Etienne makes a promise to God, offering to take the priest cowl in exchange for ridding Avielle of her affliction.
Will Etienne be true to his word if Avielle is cleansed of the contagion, or will he risk eternal damnation to be with the woman he loves?
A story of a Holy War, an unstoppable disease, and a love that turned out to be greater than both. This is the story of a young woman called Avielle, who struggles with things that she has seen, things that she has done, and things that she feels. She falls in love where she should not, and she feels compelled to go Crusading. Avielle is a character whose story is heartbreakingly tragic.
Etienne d'Argences is a brave and loyal knight, but he is also terribly conflicted. Etienne is a character that I grew to love, despite his somewhat shaky beginnings.
Although only a secondary character, Gideon intrigued me. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but what happens to Gideon demonstrates what a brutal and unforgiving time this book is set in.
The story itself is incredibly compelling, and it comes across very vividly. I don't know a great deal about the Crusades, but I did not need to, for Mary Ann Bernal carefully depicts the history along with the story.
I thought this book was great, and I enjoyed every minute of it.
Mary Ann Bernal attended Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, NY, where she received a degree in Business Administration. Her literary aspiration were ultimately realized when the first book of The Briton and the Dane novels was published in 2009. In addition to writing historical fiction, Mary Ann has also authored a collection of contemporary short stories in Scribbler Tales series and a science fiction/ fantasy novel entitled Planetary Wars Rose of an Empire. Her latest endeavor is Crusader's Path, a story of redemption set against the backdrop of the First Crusade.