Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Candlelight Reading...: My review of CRUSADER’S PATH BY MARY ANN BERNAL

Candlelight Reading...: My review of CRUSADER’S PATH BY MARY ANN BERNAL: CRUSADER’S PATH BY MARY ANN BERNAL From the sweeping hills of Argences to the port city of Cologne overlooki...

SUNDAY, MAY 31, 2020

My review of CRUSADER’S PATH BY MARY ANN BERNAL













CRUSADER’S PATH
BY MARY ANN BERNAL
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?


MY THOUGHTS

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

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.




Whispering Legends Press: https://www.whisperinglegendspress.com/


Monday, June 1, 2020

The Order of the White Boar - Setting the Stage for the First Crusade, 1096-1099 – guest post by Mary Ann Bernal


The Order of the White Boar


Setting the Stage for the First Crusade, 1096-1099 – guest post by Mary Ann Bernal

I’m delighted to welcome on to my blog today fellow historical fiction author Mary Ann Bernal.
Mary Ann is on her blog tour for her latest novel, Crusader’s Path, ‘a story of redemption set against the backdrop of the First Crusade’ – a fascinating period in history – and one that takes place across a wide sweep of what was then, to Europeans at least, the known world – from Normandy to Constantinople to the Holy Land.
Here Mary Ann tells us a little about the circumstances and the unfolding of that crusade…

Setting the Stage for the First Crusade, 1096-1099

During the Eleventh Century, the Roman Catholic Church held considerable influence throughout Christendom, despite the East-West Schism of 1054 caused by political and theological differences between the Latin West and Greek Eastern Orthodox Church.
Violence, lawlessness, famine, and poverty existed across the European continent. Peasants were at the mercy of the warring nobles craving wealth and power. A significant disparity prevailed in a social hierarchy where landowners set the rules, giving little hope for commoners to rise above their station.
Pope Urban II
The authority of the Pope, also known as the Bishop of Rome, had waned over the years. Henry IV, the Holy Roman Emperor, clashed with Pope Gregory VII over papal authority. Pope Urban’s predecessor, Pope Gregory, excommunicated the errant Emperor. Military clashes ensued, and the victorious Henry installed the Antipope, Clement III, as the Bishop of Rome.
Alexios I
Alexios I, the Byzantine Emperor, needed help in thwarting the Seljuk Turks harassing his kingdom. Fearing the fall of his capital city, Constantinople, Alexios requested Pope Urban’s assistance in vanquishing the infidel.

The Call to Arms

Pope Urban saw the request from Alexios as a means to reunite the Latin West and Greek East. Additionally, by channeling the violent knights’ and mercenaries’ thirst for fighting towards a common enemy, the followers of Islam, he kept unchivalrous warriors from pillaging the European countryside. Besides, a successful campaign would strengthen the Papacy, enhancing political power and dominance over kingly rule. And freeing Jerusalem from Muslim control would secure his place in history.
Urban II preaching
Pope Urban II was a charismatic and intriguing man. In all probability, he was calculating and manipulative, necessary traits to retain control of the Papacy, defeating his enemies with skillful finesse.
The Council at Claremont had been called to address abuses within the Catholic Church. The assembly decided many canons, renewed earlier legislation, and settled lawsuits at its conclusion. However, Pope Urban piqued the curiosity of the religious elite and common people when mentioning a great speech on the day before the attendees’ departure.
In an open field, the eloquent preacher spoke of atrocities committed upon Christians by the Muslims. Pope Urban maligned the Saracens oppressing Christians, his speech cleverly fashioned to incite the crowd. He offered salvation, giving hope to the hopeless, calling upon rich and poor alike to embark on a righteous war. Pope Urban promised a full remission of sins if people died during the journey or on the battlefield. The chant Deus Vult, God wills it, echoed throughout the crowd.
Pope Urban’s successful oration created the armies of the First Crusade. Although religion was the driving force, the nobility and lowly knights sought land and wealth. They would give no quarter since the Church condoned killing.

The Armies

Peter of Amiens took Pope Urban at his word, leaving without paying heed to logistics – a coordinated campaign, led by princes and noblemen, acquiring manpower, provisions and money, a lot of money to pay the soldiers, and purchase supplies along the route.
Peter of Amiens
Known as Peter the Hermit, the lowly monk preached to the peasants from Claremont to Amiens before setting out to Cologne, following the Rivers Rhine and Danube, reaching Constantinople before Pope Urban’s officially sanctioned army. Known as the People’s Crusade or the Peasants’ Crusade, the ill-fated collection of pilgrims failed to reach the Holy Land, most perishing on the road to Nicaea.
The First Crusade
The peasants risked everything to reclaim the Holy Land for God, proudly wearing the Cross. They were ill-equipped, mostly farmers, men, women, and children. They left behind land they did not own, carrying meager possessions with them, believing Pope Urban’s words about attaining salvation, their sins forgiven.
Peter could not control the unruly mob who ravished the land with such ferocity that it sent chills down the spines of the Turkish people when word reached their ears of the rabble’s murderous deeds.
The Princes’ Crusade consisted of four main armies, leaving Europe in August 1096, the planned departure date, and several months after Peter’s Army of Peasants. To the aristocracy, fighting for Christ was an honor, elevating their standing within the hierarchy, commanding respect, and awe from the masses. While saving souls was the catalyst, attaining wealth in a land flowing with milk and honey, controlling centers of trade, satisfied their ambition.

Crusaders arrive in Jerusalem

Aftermath

The First Crusade was a holy war that had the blessing of God, according to Pope Urban. The Commandment, thou shall not kill, was ignored when fighting the infidel. In retaliation, the Muslims raged a Holy War against the Christians. The apoplectic war of the two faiths continues to this day.
The First Crusade saw the establishment of the Crusader States and the Knights Templar and Knights Hospitaller military orders. The role of the Roman Popes progressed in secular affairs. Alliances deteriorated between the Latin West and Greek East. Subsequent crusades failed to keep Jerusalem under Christian control.
***
I could not help but wonder if Pope Urban would have condoned a Holy War if he knew the ramifications of his deeds. Just as I wonder whether Catherine of Aragon would have given Henry VIII a divorce if she had known Henry would become the Church of England. Who in history has ever considered the consequences before acting? Just thoughts to ponder.


Crusader’s Path 

by Mary Ann Bernal

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.
 Crusader’s Path is available from:

Mary Ann Bernal

mary anne bernalMary Ann Bernal attended Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, NY, where she received a degree in Business Administration. Her literary aspirations 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 the Scribbler Tales series and a science fiction/fantasy novel entitled Planetary Wars Rise of an Empire. Her latest endeavor is Crusader’s Path, a story of redemption set against the backdrop of the First Crusade.
Connect with Mary Ann: Website • Blog • Whispering Legends Press •  Twitter • Facebook.
 Whispering Legends Press: https://www.whisperinglegendspress.com/
Thanks to Mary Anne Yarde of the Coffee Pot Book Club for arranging the blog tour
*Picture credits:



Saturday, May 30, 2020

Mary Ann Bernal | A Journey Along the Crusader’s Path


http://www.elizabethjstjohn.com/guest-authors/mary-ann-bernal-a-journey-along-the-crusaders-path/



Mary Ann Bernal | A Journey Along the Crusader’s Path

When I first chatted with author Mary Ann Bernal, I knew I had found a friend – someone else who writes listening to Gregorian chants, Carmina Burana and Bob Seger! Here’s more of my interview, as we talk about Mary Ann’s fascination with the dark ages and the joy of serendipity.
What music do you listen to when you write?
As with the actor who becomes the character, so should the author become part of the world being created. With The Briton and the Dane novels, I chose period music, immersing myself in the Ninth Century. Movie soundtracks from the Vikings (the 1958 movie, not the TV series) and Alfred the Great (c 1969) and First Knight (c 1995) set the mood along with instrumentals such as A Treasury of Gregorian Chants and Carmina Burana. Listen and watch here

For my contemporary short stories, I chose Choral Classics and Classical Thunder, including my favorite, Dies Irae (Verdi).
What better way to write science fiction then listening to the best of Star Trek and Star Wars in my dedicated science fiction room with memorabilia from Star Trek The Original Series to Stargate Atlantis covering the walls, which included a photo of myself on Voyager’s bridge, standing next to Captain Janeway.
Once again, I chose period music while writing Crusader’s Path. In addition to the Gregorian Chants and Carmina Burana, I added The Castle of Fair Welcome and The Pleasures of the Royal Courts.
But when back into the 21st century, there’s nothing like Old Time Rock N’ Roll (Bob Seger).


Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you building a body of work with connections or themes between each book?
Since High School, I have always wanted to write my Erik the Viking story after seeing a multitude of period films throughout my impressionable years. The big screen did not disappoint with heroic knights defeating the Norse invaders and fair maidens finding suitable husbands.
With this background, and years of devouring every book I could find on the Viking era and Anglo-Saxon Britain, I chose the reign of Alfred the Great for the setting of my story. Initially, it was supposed to be one novel with Erik, the Danish Prince, in the lead role with the Saxon Gwyneth, the female counterpart. As the story evolved, the supporting characters’ subplots thickened, and they demanded more time. One book became three. Each book in the trilogy’s back story lets the reader enjoy the adventure without having to start at the beginning. The final two novels in the franchise, The Briton and the Dane: Concordia and The Briton and the Dane: Timeline, are stand-alone.
After spending five years in Anglo-Saxon Britain, I chose to write a collection of contemporary short stories. Before heading back to the historical past, I delved into the realm of science fiction.  But my love of historical fiction beckoned as did an interest in the Crusades after watching Knightfall on the History Channel. Crusader’s Path is set during the First Crusade, a different theme from my previous work.
How do you select the names of your characters?
For my historical novels, I choose authentic names of the period. I research the origin of the name and when it was first used, and check baby sites for popular names to consider for my contemporary stories. There are name generator sites for science fiction/fantasy, which is also helpful. My favorite name is Arista from The Briton and the Dane: Birthright. And I am partial to Etienne.

What’s the best thing a reader has said about or written to you?
As a supporter of the U.S. Military, I was involved with Soldiers Angels, a non-profit organization, which had people writing letters and sending care packages to deployed soldiers. In addition to adopting soldiers for the duration of their tour, I also mentored new “angels” and was part of the Card Plus team.
I received this lovely message early on in my writing career:
I am a fellow Angel from Colorado. I wanted to let you know of a funny story. My son, Tyler, age 13, came home from school and said he was asked if he would be interested in reading a book that the librarian just found about. Ty couldn’t remember the title of the book, but it was about Vikings and knights. So when I opened up the Founder’s Notes from Patti and saw your profile, I asked Tyler if The Briton and the Dane was the title of the book…I thought he was going to come out of the phone. I told him a fellow Soldiers’ Angel wrote it, and now I just bought a copy and Tyler will tell the librarian to get the book. Thought you would like Congrats again. Can’t wait to read it now.
Quick Q&A
Tea or Coffee – Coffee
Dark or Milk Chocolate – Milk Chocolate
When were you the happiest – When I brought my newborn son home from the hospital.
Favorite Children’s Book – Cinderella
Favorite Adult Novel –  Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

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?
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Friday, May 29, 2020

The Coffee Pot Book Club Presents "Crusader's Path" by Mary Ann Bernal

https://www.marymorganauthor.com/post/the-coffee-pot-book-club-presents-crusader-s-path-by-mary-ann-bernal

Welcome to

MARY'S TAVERN



Please make welcome the lovely Mary Ann Bernal to the Tavern! We're celebrating her new book release, Crusader's Path! Don't you just love the cover? It's stunning! I'm eager to read this fascinating story. The ale and mead are flowing, so grab a mug and let's take a look at Mary Ann's book...



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?
Available at these online retailers


   A Message from Mary Ann Bernal

After having written The Briton and the Dane series, set in Anglo-Saxon Britain during the Ninth Century, I decided to leave Britannia for the Duchy of Normandy and the Holy Roman Empire, focusing on events leading up to the First Crusade in the Eleventh Century. However, I was interested in following the route of the armies heading towards Jerusalem. While stories about famous sieges, including Nicaea and Antioch, are recognizable, I wanted to write about the little-known assaults, the citadels in-between, the unheard-of battles such as the fall of Dorylaeum.

The Third Crusade continues to ignite the imagination with tales of Richard the Lionheart and his nemesis, Saladin, kept alive by Hollywood blockbusters. The same cannot be said about Pope Urban’s fiery speech at the Council of Clermont in the Duchy of Aquitaine that launched his Holy War against the followers of Islam. But who was in attendance? A humble monk, Peter of Amiens, for one, among the thousands vowing to undertake the journey for the salvation of their souls.

But where to start, back in Britannia? Surely, there were other countries on the European continent to explore. Why not France? I did take four years of French in High School, after all. And the Norman William did conquer the island Kingdom of England.

In 1087, William the Conqueror died, leaving the Norman Duchy to his first-born son, Robert, while bequeathing England to his son, William Rufus. Since I wanted to explore the reasons why people chose to take up the Cross and fight for Christ in the Holy Land, I decided to learn more about Duke Robert of Normandy, who personally led his army to Jerusalem. At the same time, his brother, King William Rufus, remained in England.


 
William Rufus

 Of course, sibling rivalry existed, with constant quarreling between the brothers, each coveting what they did not have, which created political difficulties on both sides of the English Channel. After years of fighting with little to show for Robert’s efforts, other than draining the Treasury, the Norman Duke decided to join the armies of the First Crusade, albeit a little late, having borrowed the necessary funds from his brother to finance the campaign.


Robert of Normandy

 Duke Robert spent the winter months in Italy, not arriving in Constantinople until May 1097, leaving the city to join the Princes’ Army currently laying siege to Nicaea.

Etienne, a nobleman from Argences, accompanied his overlord throughout the Duchy of Normandy and on the road to Jerusalem.


Peter the Hermit preaching the First Crusade

 Peter the Hermit, however, had a different path, collecting followers for his Army of Peasants as he made his way to the city of Cologne in the Holy Roman Empire. He would follow the Rivers Rhine and Danube on his way to Constantinople arriving months before Pope Urban’s sanctioned Princes’ Army.
  
Avielle, a commoner living in Cologne, joined Peter’s Army after hearing him speak in the market square. She was a healer afflicted with Leprosy.

Infectious diseases have been documented since Biblical times. Although Leprosy is treatable today, the stigma associated with the contagion still exists. Society isolates people afflicted with communicable infections. Jerusalem did have a leper hospital before and during the First Crusade, which eventually led to the founding of the Order of St. Lazarus, consisting of warriors stricken with the contagion.

My two main characters meet in Constantinople. At this point, the sins for which they seek redemption remain at the forefront. Neither Etienne or Avielle could forgive themselves, seeking salvation with pure hearts.


Map of the First Crusade - roads of main armies

Duke Robert of Normandy’s Army joined the Princes’ Army at Nicaea. Before the armies reached Antioch, they stopped at Dorylaeum. When the troops finally reached the impregnable walls of Antioch, they settled in for a lengthy siege. With winter approaching, Duke Robert left the blockade to thwart Turkish invaders at the port city of Laodicea. He did not return to Antioch until spring.
  
Antioch was not easily won, but the armies still had to travel through Syria and Lebanon on their way to Jerusalem. What happened at Marre and Arqa is not widely known. But atrocities did occur. The barbarity struck fear into the heart of the enemy, a blight upon a movement created in the name of God.
  
As we know, history tends to repeat itself, as seen by the numerous wars throughout the centuries. Placing living, breathing characters into historical events, brings the past alive. Crusader’s Path delves into the mindset of men and women living through a violent age. Their hopes, dreams, and fears mimic our thoughts and feelings. We are not so different from those who came before us. The realities of warfare should not be romanticized. Hatred of the outsider triggered the First Crusade. Unfortunately, Holy Wars continue through this day.


Meet the Author




Mary Ann Bernal attended Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, NY, where she received a degree in Business Administration. Her literary aspirations 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 the Scribbler Tales series and a science fiction/fantasy novel entitled Planetary Wars Rise of an Empire. Her latest endeavor is Crusader’s Path, a story of redemption set against the backdrop of the First Crusade.

Connect with Mary Ann here