A beautiful and lyrical story, with an unusual writing style and more than a hint of magic and lore.
Told mainly in the first-person voice of Samuel of Cologne, Sam’s story is augmented by the journals and letters of secondary narrators, criss-crossing back and forth in time to present day. An observant and sensible dwarf, (characteristics seemingly at odds with his position as Court Jester), Sam is an entrenched member of the household entourage of the early fifteenth-century warrior King Pawel, in the fictional/historical worlds of Gora, a tiny kingdom near Prussia (modern-day Germany).
As Samuel spins his intricate yarn, we are introduced to a wonderful cast of characters, including but not limited to :
Tycho – a lad of sixteen, a story-teller and a wanderer. Tycho is adored by the ladies, his seemingly mystically-endowed imagination and charm both infamous and unparalleled in the Kingdom of Gora. A weaver of a “silken necklace of dreams” featuring love in all its forms, Tycho is, perhaps (along with Samuel), nonetheless one of the loneliest characters you will meet between the pages.
Bishop Tonnelli – a greedy, lustful symbol of the Holy Roman Church, Tonnelli is an deeply repugnant reminder of the hideous power of institutionalized evil.
Beauvais – a Teutonic Knight, defender of the weak and agent of the rapacious Holy Roman Church, Beauvais is willing to die for the freedom to serve honorably, enslaved by the pursuit of his ill-conceived mission.
Amidst these dissonant strains of yearning/lust, religion/corruption, freedom/enslavement, and of course, love/alienation, the story that emerges is captivating, interesting, tragic and heart-warming, teaching this reader a thing or two about European medieval history (and the always-fascinating Joan of Arc) along the way.
A fantastical journey, rich with detail both historical and imaginative, this is a wonderful, thoughtful read, guaranteed to both entertain and tug at any reader’s heart-strings.
A great big thank you to the author for an ARC of this book. All thoughts presented are my own.