Wednesday, January 9, 2013

What I'm Reading: The Cross and the Dragon

I bought Kim Rendfeld's The Cross and the Dragon in late summer, but didn't get to read it on Kindle until the Christmas holiday. If you know anything about me, you know how much I love the medieval period so this title was right for me. I discovered just how much once I got into the story.

"In Kim Rendfeld’s debut novel, set in eighth-century Europe, the heroine Alda faces a dilemma common to many marriageable heiress of the Middle Ages: submission to a husband chosen for her by others. Alda is a spitfire with a sharp wit and keen intelligence to match her spirited personality. She relies on an inherent strength and a charmed dragon amulet to fortify herself against the proposed husband, the ruthless Count Ganelon, and protect Hruodland, the proud Breton warrior who has likewise claimed her affections. Her commitment never wavers, although the rigid expectations of medieval, male-dominated society often stand in her way. Ganelon angrily refuses to accept her rejection. His dogged pursuit ensures trouble for Alda and Hruodland’s marriage.

Although Hruodland claims Alda for his own, their mutual devotion remains threatened, thanks to the connivance of his family. As the relation of King Charles the Great, better known throughout history as Charlemagne, Hruodland faces grave responsibility for the protection of his domain and the duty to sire heirs. Has he married a woman who is incapable of helping him fulfill the latter task? Before Hruodland and Alda can become parents, warfare takes him far from her and leads her to desperate choices that affect more than just her future.  

Part of the enjoyment of this novel comes from the author’s ability to create an authentic sense of time and place. She weaves a powerful tale out of a few strands of history, encapsulated in the epic poem The Song of Roland. Despite scant details mired in legend, there is great emphasis on a vivid portrayal of the medieval period. The author truly brings it to life. Alda and Hruodland’s mutual courage is equally inspiring. Both are representative of the viewpoints and attitudes of people in the Middle Ages. The Cross and the Dragon is a great debut from an author who clearly understands the period and its myriad personalities well."

2 comments:

Alison DeLuca said...

That sounds fantastic - it's amazing to me when an author can create a vivid story from a few pieces of legend or ballad.

Thanks so much for the review!

Lisa Yarde said...

I told Kim the same thing, Alison. Amassing the facts and making them interesting takes skill, but I'm even more impressed that Kim brought so much detail to the period. This story's a keeper!

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