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

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Review of Crusader's Path by Mary Ann Bernal


Cathie Dunn writes...
Historical Mystery & Romance

Today, I’d like to introduce you to another read I can highly recommend: Crusader’s Path by Mary Ann Bernal!


I’m delighted to take part in this blog tour organised by The Coffee Pot Book Club.




Crusader’s Path is a gripping historical novel that goes into great detail – a real treat for those with an interest in the First Crusade and the late 11th century in general.

We meet several characters along the way, all with their own burdens:

Avielle: A young woman with the skills of a healer. When she falls in love with Gideon, a young Jewish man in denial about his religious heritage, she sets a series of events in motion that lead her to join Peter of Amiens on his crusade.

Etienne: A young knight, landholder and liege man of Robert Curthose, Duke of Normandy, at whose side he remains rather than looking after his estate. Unable to stay in the confines of his home and marriage, Etienne follows the duke’s call to go on crusade.

Duke Robert of Normandy: Always fighting for his rights against two overbearing brothers – King William Rufus of England and Henry Beauclerc (the future King Henry I of England) – Robert decides to leave Normandy to go on crusade, instead of securing his hold over Normandy.

All characters are flawed. The author does well not to paint them in a romanticised fashion, but instead she creates flesh-and-blood characters who make mistakes, and who know they've done wrong. As readers, we might disagree with some of their decisions, but we have to respect their autonomy and choices. Without giving away too much, I thought that their actions were well-written and realistic for the times they lived in.

Avielle and Etienne meet during their journey. They fall in love, but each is also torn by their own weaknesses. The way to Jerusalem is perilous, bringing both into danger as they search for redemption.

I found Crusader’s Path a very interesting novel. It’s packed with historical detail, and at times it reads like a history book. I like that as I’m always interested in the background to the novels I read. It also helps that I know the real historical characters at play here (and their political shenanigans), so I could easily get lost in the story itself without too much distraction of looking up names.

Mary Ann Bernal has written a moving tale about characters who follow their instincts, who make mistakes, and who pay the price for them. The setting is as authentic as it can get, and I felt catapulted (pun intended) into the action. A highly recommended read!

My thanks goes to The Coffee Pot Book Club for a copy of the novel. Views are entirely my own.



Purchase:


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Brook Allen presents Crusader Knights by Mary Ann Bernal




5/24/2020

Crusader Knights

Welcome back to the blog! This week, I'd like to introduce a special guest, author Mary Ann Bernal. Her latest work takes place in the Middle Ages. So sit back, turn your imaginations on "high", and let's find out more about Crusader Knights.



Etienne, is that who you are? Why do you haunt my thoughts? (Crusader’s Path 146)

Picture an impressionable teenager reading Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott for a book report assignment. Thoughts of Hollywood blockbusters such as Prince Valiant and Knights of the Round Table resurface, romanticizing a violent era where heroic knights save the day amid insurmountable odds.

Visit the library, choosing biographies of historical figures whose feats of daring have transcended time. El Cid, the Spanish knight, combatting the Moors. King Richard I, the Lionheart, joining the Third Crusade. Edward, the Black Prince, victorious at Poitiers. William Wallace, fighting to free Scotland of the English tyrant, King Edward I.



There are the legends, Arturius and Lancelot, and Robin Hood, larger than life icons, in all probability, a composite of actual warriors whose daring feats were memorialized.

We must not forget the fictional portrayal of knightly virtue. Prince Valiant, characterized on the big screen, was also a featured comic strip that was distributed weekly to American newspapers.

That was then, and this is now.

Recently, the TV series, Knightfall, sheds light on the deeds of the Knights Templar, the most recognizable military Order established during the Crusades. On the big screen, Ironclad, Arn: The Knight Templar, and the Kingdom of Heaven re-established interest in the Crusades. In the carnage arises courageous heroes, enticing a new generation of followers, incurable romantics, which isn’t such a bad thing.



The Knights Templar

​​The First Crusade resulted in the establishment of the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Crusader States. With the city in Christian control, European Pilgrims flocked to the Holy Land. The lengthy journey was dangerous, which necessitated the formation of a protective force, ensuring the safety of Christians.

In the early twelfth century, a small group of knights established the Poor-fellow Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon, better known as the Knights Templar, headquartered on the Temple Mount. A holy site where the First Temple once stood.

The original knights promised to protect the pilgrims, creating the vows of the Templar, based upon Benedictine rule, living an austere life. The knights swore oaths of obedience, celibacy, and poverty, giving their wealth to the Order. Prayer was a significant part of daily life with devotion to the Virgin Mary.

As the Order grew in size and stature, they developed a financial enterprise, leaving a quarter of the warrior monks to fight. They developed the first banking system, which made the Order very powerful and wealthy.  The Templars were a feared fighting force for almost two hundred years before King Philip IV of France, who was in debt to the Order, had the knights arrested on Friday, the 13th. Suffice it to say these brave warriors suffered torture and death, being condemned on trumped-up charges to fill Philip’s coffers with Templar wealth and, of course, eliminating his debt.



The Hospitallers of Saint John

In the early eleventh century, the Hospital of Saint John was established in Jerusalem. The mission was to care for the sick, poor, and injured Pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land. After Jerusalem fell to the Christians in 1099, the community’s work increased, more hospitals were founded. Eventually, the Order became known as the Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem. The Hospitallers, also known as the Knights of Malta or the Order of Saint John, became a Military Order.




The Knights of Saint Lazarus

Based in Jerusalem, the Knights of Saint Lazarus was founded by leper knights. Most of its members suffered from the contagion. Anyone who had contracted the disease within the Hospitallers Order joined the Knights of Saint Lazarus. The Lazarists wore a green cross upon their mantle.

King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem was a leper, who fought alongside the Knights Templar against Saladin in the late twelfth century.


Etienne

I decided against romanticizing Etienne’s character in the story. Yes, he is a brave knight, skilled in warfare, and loyal to his overlord. But he is also human with flaws. He has good and bad traits and, like all of us, struggled with his conscience when tempted. Etienne was real, a role model if you will, with all the frailties of the human condition. You might agree or disagree with his choices, but at the end of the day, he took responsibility for his actions.


Publication date: 12/04/2020
Publisher: Whispering Legends Press
Twitter Handle: @BritonandDane @maryanneyarde 
Hashtags: #HistoricalFiction #Crusaders



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?

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Mary Ann Bernal

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.




Friday, May 8, 2020

Spotlight on authors JJ Toner, Ellie Midwood, Rachel Wesson, Marion Kummerow, Chrystyna Lucky-Berger, Marina Osipova




Fun Facts
stuff you probably didn't know
about the writers of
The Road to Liberation

JJ Toner

I could have been a famous actor. All I lacked was talent.

I could have served in WW2, but my feet were too flat, and I was too young.

I once played in a rock band. We made one record, now a rare collector’s item.

I like to discover a new word every day. Today’s word is “parergon.”

I could have been a professional golfer. All I lacked was talent.

Ellie Midwood

English is my second language.

I can’t cook to save my life.

I hardly feel any physical pain (I recovered from surgery without taking a single painkiller and usually don’t notice that I accidentally cut myself until I see actual blood).

As a teen and in my early twenties, I performed on stage at our local theater and was seriously considering becoming a director, but life had other plans, so now I’m writing about them:) Another profession I seriously considered was a medical one (go figure!), but I ended up becoming a writer instead. Not that I’m complaining.

One of my early jobs was teaching kids horseback riding.

Rachel Wesson

Contrary to some readers' beliefs, shared by my children, I didn't live through the war.

I fought off some bank raiders with a tea tray and teacups - Us Irish like our tea!

I once embroidered an Irish dancing costume just for fun - I can't thread a needle now.

In England, they think I am American due to my accent.

I can't hold a conversation in my native tongue.

Marina Osipova

As a child, I wanted to be a fisherwoman or a doctor or an actress.

Now matured, I regret, I didn’t become an archivist or an archeologist or an anthropologist.

In my soul, I envy Robinson Crusoe.

I love all things classical: literature, music, art and would prefer living in the 19th century.

I’m highly responsible. If I fail to accomplish something important for myself or others, I feel terrible.

Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger

I wanted to be Grizzly Adams when I grew up, writing stories and books, being on television each week, living in a cabin in the mountains, and being followed about by a pet grizzly bear.

After surgery, I can’t feel the second toe on my right foot anymore, and I often dream that it just falls off at very inconvenient moments.

When I was ten, my grandmother asked me what I wanted to be. I said, “Storyteller.” She said, “How will you make money?” I said, “I’ll write books.” She said, “So, you want to be an author? You’ll have to marry a doctor or a lawyer to support you.” Wrong thing to say to a fiercely independent kid, so I said, “Then I’ll be a veterinarian and an author, like James Herriot.” Today my answer is, “Then I’ll just be a better author.”

My husband and I met anonymously on the Internet only to find out that we knew each other from other circles. And when that became clear, I danced a little jig and dreamt that night I’d be married to him by the following spring. And that happened. I really hope the toe-falling-off thing doesn’t, though.

I live in the mountains, in a cabin, where I stream Netflix and Amazon prime each week, write books and stories and have a dog and cat - who follow me about. The cat can have a grizzly temper. (Sometimes you gotta make compromises).


***


Riveting stories dedicated to celebrating the end of WWII.

From USA Today, international bestselling and award-winning authors comes a collection filled with courage, betrayal, hardships and, ultimately, victory over some of the most oppressive rulers the world has ever encountered.

By 1944, the Axis powers are fiercely holding on to their quickly shrinking territories.
The stakes are high—on both sides:

Liberators and oppressors face off in the final battles between good and evil. Only personal bravery and self-sacrifice will tip the scales when the world needs it most.

Read about a small child finding unexpected friends amidst the cruelty of the concentration camps, an Auschwitz survivor working to capture a senior member of the SS, the revolt of a domestic servant hunted by the enemy, a young Jewish girl in a desperate plan to escape the Gestapo, the chaos that confused underground resistance fighters in the Soviet Union, and the difficult lives of a British family made up of displaced children.

2020 marks 75 years since the world celebrated the end of WWII. These books will transport you across countries and continents during the final days, revealing the high price of freedom—and why it is still so necessary to “never forget”.

Stolen Childhood by Marion Kummerow
The Aftermath by Ellie Midwood
When's Mummy coming? by Rachel Wesson
Too Many Wolves in the Local Woods by Marina Osipova
Liberation Berlin by JJ Toner

Magda’s Mark by Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger

***
About the Authors

Marion Kummerow:

Marion Kummerow was born and raised in Germany before she set out to "discover the world" and lived in various countries. In 1999 she returned to Germany and settled down in Munich, where she's now living with her family.

After dipping her toes with non-fiction books, she finally tackled the project dear to her heart. UNRELENTING is the story about her grandparents, who belonged to the German resistance and fought against the Nazi regime. It's a book about resilience, love, and the courage to stand up and do the right thing.

Marina Osipova:

Marina Osipova was born in East Germany into a military family and grew up in Russia, where she graduated from the Moscow State Institute of History and Archives. She also has a diploma as a German language translator from the Moscow State Institute of Foreign Languages. In Russia, she worked first in a scientific-technical institute as a translator then in a Government Ministry in the office of international relations, later for some Austrian firms. For seventeen years, she lived in the United States, where she worked in a law firm. Eventually, she found her home in Austria. She is an award-winning author and a member of the Historical Novel Society.

Rachel Wesson:

Rachel Wesson is Irish born and bred. Drawn to reading from an early age, she started writing for publication a few years back. When she is not writing, Rachel likes to spend her time reading and playing with her three kids. Living in Dublin, there are plenty of things to do, although the Cowboys and Indians of her books rarely make an appearance. To chat with Rachel, connect with her on Facebook - authorrachelwesson. To check out her newest releases, sign up to her mailing list.

JJ Toner:

My background is in Mathematics and computing, but I have been writing full time since 2005. I write short stories and novels. My novels include the bestselling WW2 spy story 'The Black Orchestra,' and its three sequels, 'The Wings of the Eagle,' 'A Postcard from Hamburg,' and 'The Gingerbread Spy.'

Many of my short stories have been published in mainstream magazines. Check out 'EGGS and Other Stories' - a collection of satirical SF stories. I was born in a cabbage patch in Ireland, and I still live here with my first wife, although a significant part of our extended family lives in Australia.

Ellie Midwood:

Ellie Midwood is a USA Today bestselling and award-winning historical fiction author. She owes her interest in the history of the Second World War to her grandfather, Junior Sergeant in the 2nd Guards Tank Army of the First Belorussian Front, who began telling her about his experiences on the frontline when she was a young girl. Growing up, her interest in history only deepened and transformed from reading about the war to writing about it. After obtaining her BA in Linguistics, Ellie decided to make writing her full-time career and began working on her first full-length historical novel, "The Girl from Berlin." Ellie is continuously enriching her library with new research material and feeds her passion for WWII and Holocaust history by collecting rare memorabilia and documents.

In her free time, Ellie is a health-obsessed yoga enthusiast, neat freak, adventurer, Nazi Germany history expert, polyglot, philosopher, a proud Jew, and a doggie mama. Ellie lives in New York with her fiancé and their Chihuahua named Shark Bait.

Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger:

Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger was born in Minnesota in 1969 and grew up in the culture-rich neighborhood of "Nordeast" Minneapolis. She started her writing career with short stories, travel narratives, worked as a journalist and then as a managing editor for a magazine publisher before jumping the editor's desk and pursuing her dreams of writing and traveling. In 2000, she moved to western Austria and established her own communications training company. In 2005, she self-published a historical narrative based on her relatives' personal histories and experiences in Ukraine during WWII. She has won several awards for her short stories and now primarily writes historical fiction. During a trip into northern Italy over the Reschen Pass, she stood on the edge of Reschen Lake and desperately wanted to understand how a 15th-century church tower ends up sticking out of the water. What stories were lying beneath? Some eight years later, she launched the "Reschen Valley" series with five books and a novella releasing between 2018 and 2021.

For more on Chrystyna, dive in at inktreks.com.


***

Where to By

Thursday, May 7, 2020

The Coffee Pot Book Club: #HistoricalFiction author, Mary Ann Bernal: An Author's Inspiration Crusader's Path

The Coffee Pot Book Club: #HistoricalFiction author, Mary Ann Bernal, is tal...: An Author’s Inspiration Crusader’s Path By Mary Ann Berna l In my ongoing interest in the human psyche and wh...



An Author’s Inspiration
Crusader’s Path
By Mary Ann Bernal
In my ongoing interest in the human psyche and why people behave the way they do, I discovered most individuals react in the same way when coming in contact with a person who may or may not have a communicable disease.

When I had a bout of shingles a while back, I was fortunate – only one hand and wrist were affected, a few manageable lesions that did not spread, just five or six clusters lining one finger, easily covered with Band-Aids.

Shingles.

While speaking to several coworkers, I noticed their peculiar behavior the minute I said the word shingles. They stepped away – distancing themselves a few feet from where I stood as if my covered finger would contaminate them.

Of course, I was not contagious, but the fear emanating after hearing the word shingles seemed to set protective gears in motion, leaving as quickly as one could without appearing rude.

What immediately came to mind was how people with infectious diseases had been treated throughout the centuries.  The recent remake of Ben Hur in 2016 reminded me of Charleston Heston’s portrayal of Judah and how he interacted with his mother and sister, who had contracted the disease while in prison.


Ben-Hur (6/10) Movie CLIP - The Valley of the Lepers (1959)

Lewis Wallace - Ben-Hur: Wikimedia.

Throughout the years, a plethora of movies were made about the Crusades and leper warriors, such as King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem. The Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem, a military order was established to care for the hospitalized lepers around 1119 AD.


                                                  Baldwin IV - The Leper King of Jerusalem - IT'S HISTORY

Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem.
Remember Richard the Lionheart joining the Third Crusade to fight his nemesis, the notable Saladin? And don’t forget the Robin Hood movies which reference the famous outlaw’s experiences fighting the Infidel. Recognizable names and places because of Hollywood, all filmed with creative license meant to entertain and are not necessarily historically accurate.
However, in recent years, the atrocities of warfare have been articulated with documentaries and dramatic television series where the brutality of the age is showcased and not swept into the background. In Knightfall, we see a leper knight whose face is covered by a mask. Yes, there were warriors affected with the disease who fought valiantly during every campaign over the years.

But I wanted to go back to the beginning, to the First Crusade, to understand what drove the warriors of Christ to leave their homes, enduring untold hardships for a holy cause. It took years to reach the Holy Land, a feat not everyone accomplished, dying en route from disease, starvation, and in battle.

Creating a narrative set during the First Crusade satisfied a two-fold desire to discern the truth about life in such a turbulent era.
  

Lepers were shunned and, to this day, still bear the stigma for having the disease. Delving into the minds of human beings is fascinating because of the different perceptions. Where one sees a victim struck down by God, another sees an unfortunate soul, suffering from an infliction through no fault of their own.
And what of the reasoning behind the Crusades, and what mitigating factors drove the men and women to travel to an unknown land. The peasant class had no clue as to what the undertaking meant, never having ventured out of their village.

I wonder if Urban II would have started his quest to free the Holy Land from the Infidel if he knew his mission would set off a series of events that has transcended the centuries. In our modern era, there is still a holy war being fought in the Middle East. With the advances in warfare, all that has changed are the weapons. Battles are still being fought in the name of God, religious wars, man-made, making the assumption God wills it. In reality, the quest for power and wealth drives a primeval need to dominate the weak, worldwide dominion, reminiscent of the saying, only the strong will survive.

It took three years for the Princes’ Army to reach Jerusalem, where the remnants of a once-massive military force did what no one expected. The Christian flag flew above the tower of the Lord’s city, a hard-fought victory never to be repeated over the ensuing years.

As in Romeo and Juliet and the Outlander series, Crusader’s Path has more than one main character. The story takes an in-depth look at how leprosy and religious warfare affected the individual. Avielle, a commoner, conforms to the laws of the land, but her compassion for the afflicted grows because of her personal experience. Yet she must behave according to the mores of the time, and many of her decisions stem from having to live within those rules.

Etienne, on the other hand, defies accepted values, his status giving him license to do as he pleases. He casts everything aside as he follows his ducal lord, Robert, but he is not judged as Avielle would have been for the same infraction.

Whether or not you agree with their decisions reverts back to your perception of what is acceptable and what is not. Were the conditions and rules harsh in the Eleventh Century? Yes, they were. What would you have done in a similar situation? Can you feel empathy for Avielle and Etienne and even the ducal lord, Robert, whose selfishness fits his entitled persona? If you judge them according to the principles imposed in their century and not ours, would you be surprised by your verdict?
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?


Pick up your copy of
Crusader’s Path
Amazon

Mary Ann Bernal

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. Her latest endeavor is a science fiction/fantasy novel entitled Planetary Wars  Rise of an Empire. Originally hailing from New York, Mary Ann now resides in Elkhorn, Nebraska.

Connect with Mary Ann: Website • Whispering Legends Press • Twitter.



Friday, May 1, 2020

The Coffee Pot Book Club: Join #HistoricalFiction author, Mary Ann Bernal as she takes a look back in time to the plight of the Lepers.

The Coffee Pot Book Club: Join #HistoricalFiction author, Mary Ann Bernal, a...: The Plight of the Lepers Mary Ann Bernal Leprosy (Hansen’s Disease) has been around long before 1550 B.C. ...

Join #HistoricalFiction author, Mary Ann Bernal, as she takes a look back in time to the plight of the Lepers. There is also a chance to check out Mary Ann’s fabulous new book — Crusader’s Path #History @BritonandDane



The Plight of the Lepers
Mary Ann Bernal

Leprosy (Hansen’s Disease) has been around long before 1550 B.C. when the infection was first documented in ancient Egypt and other countries. The culprit behind the now-treatable disorder is Mycobacterium leprae, a bacterium related to the tuberculosis strain.

Recapping some of the symptoms include disfigurement, claw hands, skin lesions, nerve damage, muscle weakness, and a collapsed nose. The contagion is spread through skin contact and respiratory secretions. While leprosy is contagious, it never reached pandemic proportions. Meaning, isolating the poor souls was never necessary, so much heartbreak because of ignorance.

Leviticus 14 provides a recipe for a “cure” where bird blood is sprinkled over the affected person. Throughout the ages, dog and lamb blood was used to either drink or bathe in. Desperation leads to desperate measures as witnessed by the various odd treatments using snake venom, frog poison, bee and scorpion stings, and chaulmoogra oil to apply on the lesions. Worse yet was the use of arsenic and castration, believing the disease was sexually transmitted.

Fear and superstition held a firm grip on societal mores. Why were lepers shunned? Was it because of Leviticus? Was it not written the afflicted were unclean? And of course, the inference for causation was sin. Even though the New Testament states, Jesus healed lepers while forgiving sins, mankind was not as forgiving.

                           Leprosy victims taught by bishop — Wikipedia.                            

Leviticus states lepers are unclean and sinful. The afflicted were shunned, forced to live in caves during Biblical times, and in colonies as the centuries passed. Laws were enacted to protect the population. Lepers lost their rights. They were declared legally dead, forced to participate in a ritual where they stood in an open grave as the damming words were read. They became the living dead. Their property was confiscated; all their wealth went into governmental coffers. They were denied entry to places inhabited by healthy people.

Leper houses and asylums became prominent throughout all of Christendom in the Middle Ages. If not confined, the lepers had to follow harsh rules. They had to wear special clothing and play a wooden clapper, later a bell, to warn of their approach. They also had to take vows listed in the Mass of Separation. And yes, rich lepers fared better than poor ones.

It is hard to visualize a beloved family member being treated with disdain, ostracized by the community, and forced to live a life of misery, begging for alms, bereft of hope. Can you imagine yourself having to ring a bell as you approached the local mall, warning people of your imminent arrival? You probably wouldn’t have made it out of the parking lot before the Police arrived.

Grant it, catching a disease was very scary throughout time. We still shy away from people infected with some respiratory disease, sending sick workers home. How many times have you heard “I’m not contagious” when greeting someone who has a runny nose and coughs a lot? And remember how patients with AIDS were treated when the disease was first diagnosed? Fear and ignorance reigned, just like it did when lepers walked the countryside in days of old. At least, today, we are fortunate to have science to explain the unexplainable. We have the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While we are much better off than our forebearers, we still have a long way to go to eradicate the fear and educate the ignorant.

Hawaii’s leper colony is located at Kalaupapa, on the island of Molokai. It housed thousands of infected people since its inception in 1866. The statement by Makia Malo is a stark reminder of society’s failure to embrace the truth.


In 2003, patient Makia Malo said to the Associated Press, “One of the worst things about having had this disease is that even after you're cured, society will not let you heal because of the 'L' word. People don't know how hurtful and wrong that term is.”

The word leper is synonymous with outcast and is offensive to modern-day sufferers of the disease. While using the medical term, Hansen’s disease, is preferable, an acceptable alternative is stating the person has leprosy.

Leprosy is a curable disease today, but there are still people being crippled by this wretched pestilence. India, Brazil, and Indonesia have the highest rate of infection.
World Leprosy Day is observed on the last Sunday in January.

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?

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Crusader’s Path
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Mary Ann Bernal

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. Her latest endeavor is a science fiction/fantasy novel entitled Planetary Wars  Rise of an Empire. Originally hailing from New York, Mary Ann now resides in Elkhorn, Nebraska.

Connect with Mary Ann: Website • Whispering Legends Press • Twitter.