Monday, December 27, 2010

The Knave and The Maiden - Blythe Gifford


Mercenary knight Sir Garren owed much to William, Earl of Readington: his sword, his horse, even his very knighthood. And in return Garren had saved the earl's life in the Holy Land. Yet when his liege lord fell gravely ill upon their return home, Garren knew he must save his friend once more, whatever the cost -- even if it meant embarking upon a pilgrimage to pray to a long-forsaken God, or promising to deflower an innocent young woman along the way....

Dominica was certain Sir Garren was a sign from heaven. Surely the pilgrimage, blessed with the presence of the handsome and heroic knight, would provide a sign of heaven's plan for her to take the veil. But every step of the journey seemed to be leading her straight into Garren's powerful arms. And Dominica was beginning to wonder if her true mission was to open the mercenary's seemingly cold heart to true and lasting love.

Once in a while I like to read a medieval story. Most of the medievals being published nowadays are quite forgettable but this one has a very interesting aspect that makes it stand out. It deals with the influence of religion in the everyday life of the common people.

Most of the story is set during a pilgrimage. Different people get together for different reasons to travel to the Shrine of the Blessed Larina. Some have religious motives, others less so. Among them is Dominica a young woman who wants to be a nun and Garren a former mercenary who is making the pilgrimage to ask for his lord's life. Garren is not exactly a believer; he has felt betrayed by God in the past and is quite cynical in his views of religion. Since he needs money he even accepted to seduce Dominica on the way, at the request of the Mother Superior, so that she won't be able to join the convent.

I'm afraid that in terms of romance the story didn't really work for me. I was a bit uncomfortable at Dominica's clear worship of Garren because she believed him a kind of miracle worker for having saved their lord and it seemed really unfair to me that he should take advantage of her. Besides, I had some trouble understanding where her worship of him stopped and the attraction began.

The descriptions of the actual pilgrimage and the other characters worked a lot better. I could see how religion ruled their lives and that felt very real to me. The slow pace of the action and the problems I had with the main characters lead me to a lower grade than what I would usually give to a romance that has something different, at least from my point of view, but other readers might have a different perspective and enjoy it more.

Grade: 3.5/5


  1. I had this out from the library once and couldn't get past the first chapters. Don't recall why.

  2. Maybe because they were a bit boring. ;-)


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