Helena Schrader's Historical Fiction

My biographical novel of Balian d'Ibelin in three parts is complete, but the saga continues. Follow me to Cyprus, where Lusignans and Ibelins struggle to put down a rebellion and establish a durable state. Watch for excerpts and updates here.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Tenth Tale of Chivalry and "Everything is Light"

When I announced my "Tales of Chivalry" project just over three months ago, I was planning on releasing three series of three books each set in the Age of Chivalry.  All of the novels in the Tales of Chivalry project had been written over the previous decades but never sent to publishers because I thought the market too small. The ability to self-publish ebooks convinced me that  it was now possible to publish books for niche markets, and encouraged me to undertake the publication of the nine tales. But this week I decided to add a tenth tale.
 
The exciting aspect of this tenth tale for me personally is that it is a completely new novel and so entails writing not just re-writing and editing. I haven't worked on a new book since the completion of the Leonidas Trilogy, and frankly it has taken me that long to recoup my energy and inspiration. Now, however, I am ready to start on this new book and completely energized and excited about it -- as I am at the start of any new novel.
 
The Tenth Tale will be based on the life of a historical figure, Balian d'Ibelin, who I'll introduce later with a full blog entry. For now, suffice it to say that Balian lived at the end of the 12th century (so very much in the Age of Chivalry) in the Kingdom of Jerusalem. (I'll probably use "A Tale of the Kingdom of Jerusalem" as the subtitle.) Watch this blog for more information about Balian, the crusader kingdoms in the Holy Land, the crusades and my novel, possibly surveys of title options etc.  For now, however, I'd like to conclude my entries on the Albigensian crusade with a recommendation and review:

Everything is Light by Robert Shea

This is a surprisingly well written story, with an excellent portrayal of King Louis IX of France. Although the book starts with the fall of the last Cathar fortress, Montsegur, in 1244, it provides a historically sound, comprehensible and non-romaticized introduction to the key issues involved in the Albigensian crusade (e.g. an independent Southern nobility with its own culture and language, a corrupt clergy that turned the common people against the Catholic church, a new interpretation of Christianity that was preached by devoted followers.) It avoids the use of magic and mystery, far too common when dealing with the Cathars, and instead presents complex, believable characters deserving of sympathy but flawed and inconsistent -- as we all are. This is without doubt the best book I have read on this fascinating episode in history.

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