Coffee Pot Book Club presents: Crusader's Path by Mary Ann Bernal
Welcome Readers to the Coffee Pot Book Tour and Crusader's Path by Mary Ann Bernal
Last month's tour took us on the tragic journey from Poland to Berlin. Today's book is also about a journey, a journey of sacrifice, redemption and love. This is the story of Etienne and Avielle.
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?
Crusader's Path by Mary Ann Bernal
Publisher: Whispering Legends Press
Published: April 2020
Genre: Historical Romance
Sex: 💓yes, but not graphic
Violence:😱 yes, but it is the Crusades!
The Plot in brief: This is the story of two people, both seeking forgiveness and redemption from their God for their past sins and digressions. Each embarks on a journey to the Holy Land in hopes of earning eternal peace and the right to enter heaven.
The Characters: The two main characters are Etienne, a French knight who is troubled by his past life. He hopes that partaking in the Crusade to conqueror Jerusalem will bring him absolution. Along the way he meets Avielle, a healer who cannot cure what ails her own body or her heart. Together they find love, but will they find salvation?
The pages of this book are filled with dozens of historical figures from the time. From Robert Curthose, Duke of Normady, Pope Urban, Tancred and many, many others.
The History: I was attracted to the setting of this novel. I love the Crusades, all of them, and there were quite a few. But this book is set at the beginning, the first crusade which began as a plea from the Byzantine Emperor Alexios, for help fighting the Seljuk Turks. With the urging of Pope Urban, this turned into a full scale attempt to free the holy city of Jerusalem. The narrative includes the People's Crusade, led by Peter the Hermit. I'm glad the author does not shy away from the horrors spawned by the sometimes romanticized fight for the Holy Land. Both sides were capable of great brutality and did not hesitate to take a life.
Recommendation: Lovers of historical romance set in far off times and places should love this book.
About the author: 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.
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