Review: Crusader's Path by Mary Ann Bernal

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!

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Crusader’s Path 
By Mary Ann Bernal


Blurb:

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?

Buy Links:


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Author Bio:

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.


Links:

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



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



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

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