Bladesong: 1151 in the Holy Land (The Troubadours Quartet Book 2)
A masterpiece. A historical feast.' C.M.T.Stibbe, Chasing Pharoahs 1151: the Holy Land
Estela, the troubadour, is following the destiny of her beautiful voice. Dragonetz, her passionate knight has a dangerous mission to fulfill; divided by the times they love in, they fight to be together.Imprisoned in Damascus, Dragonetz suffers the mind games inflicted by his anonymous enemies, as he is forced to remember the traumatic events of the crusade, two years earlier.
His military prowess is as valuable and dangerous to the balance of power as the priceless Torah he has to deliver to Jerusalem, and the key players want Dragonetz riding with them - or dead.Instead of remaining safely at home, Estela is desperate to rescue Dragonetz at all costs. She sets out for the Holy Land, never realising that the person she thinks will be her knight's saviour might actually be his doom.
Can Estela get him out alive, despite Nur-ad-Din, the Muslim Atabeg; Mélisende, the Queen of Jerusalem; and an avenger from the past? Will she still want to, when she knows what they've done to him?Once more 'the master of historical intrigue' whirls the reader off into medieval mayhem. Jean Gill's details of crusading strategy and riding a camel are as convincing as the pangs of medieval childbirth. She brought medieval France to life in 'Song at Dawn'; now she adds 12th century Damascus and Jerusalem with equal aplomb.'Wonderful. If you love historical romance and adventure, you must pick up this series!'Autumn Birt, The Rise of the Fifth Order.
Watch the trailer youtube.com/watch?v=5PREVetis1E
Bladesong has been quite an adventure! The final chapters of the book whooshed by so intensely and so fast that I was almost out of breath when I finished reading them. It is an amazing feast for everyone who enjoys a great political thriller, historical fiction, romance (not in the traditional 'swooning' manner though) and fantastic characters. I can just bet the author felt it was an adventure, too, while writing it. It feels like an incredible journey in time, through countries, customs, culture and languages, and above all - human hearts, both at their worst and their best.
I have learned to love Estela and Dragonetz in Song at Dawn (book 1 in this series) so much that the author could have spent this sequel merely describing them having tea and that would have been a joy in itself. But she didn't. Some readers of historical fiction sometimes complain of authors going into too much detail of fact listing, politics, intrigue and history. Memo to them - historical fiction is supposed to go into researched detail. What I love about this book is that, despite or because of such dedicated attention to detail, the author never once drops the ball and loses from her focus the main characters and their destinies, emotions and thoughts, despite how far they may actually be distanced geographically. (No spoilers for those who will read this, but they will be distanced and yet... Estela and Dragonetz separated by an ocean, numerous powerful people and huge ordeal, even chapters, looking up at the same starts with the same thoughts - that was so masterfully woven into the plot, and felt like a balm on this reader's tormented heart.)
The author displays the characters with all their faults and virtues, providing timely background and explanation, but not making excuses. Their growth and development is remarkable, and even the villains got the attention and, as weird as it may sound, the respect they deserve. The fact that this is a series allows the author time and space to develop even the tiniest detail, but she uses her time and space with every respect for her readers, never squandering a single line. By chapter 8, I already had 8 favourite quotes marked, and that is saying something. Blending detail into the bigger picture, never losing the importance of either the big picture or the value of each detail, makes Jean Gill a great strategist and general of all the battles in this book, be they the ones in bedchambers, stables, battlefields, courts or the eyes of people when they meet or avoid each other.
History is alive in these books. Alive because you can hear the languages and music the characters use, the echoes and the hushed whispers of secrets, the drums and purposeful noise of those in public display of power, the clamour of dynamic battle, the breaths of those living their lives for their partners, friends, animal friends. You can smell the scents of food and beverages offered or denied, the fresh sea breeze turning sea-sickness into health, the strong odour of physical illness and human malice, of blood flowing quietly down the streets after a vicious, unnoticed murder. You can touch the silk and cloth of dresses and robes, the cold metal of armour and shiny curves of blades... You can laugh with them all, and cry with them all, and love. And when the book is finished, you might linger in that world for a while, not wanting to be torn away from it.
I could write essays about the faulty and powerful queens, the admirable leaders, the courageous lieges, the unyielding nursemaids, the incredible horses and dogs... but you'd better read the book(s). Book three is next for me. There is so much more to know.
As a reviewer for the Readers' Review Room, I gladly give this book a gold bookworm. Might as well be diamond.
Following the lives of her characters, Estela and Dragonetz, when they are separated, while maintaining the passions of their love, is a daunting challenge. Gill steps up and does so eloquently. Even as they encounter new characters, and face confrontations with familiar characters, the essence of their ardor is never lost. As they negotiate the daily challenges of their lives, their thoughts are often on one another, recognizing that time and distance may have cooled the desire of the other.
As usual Gill adds real historical people to her tale, effectively developing their personas and making them a believable addition to what is a riveting tale of political intrigue and white hot passion.
I highly recommend this lovely Second Book in the series as I eagerly await Book Three. It is obvious there are more adventures in store for Estela, Dragonetz, Nici, Gilles, Raoulf, and Txamusca.
A Gold Bookworm for a golden story!