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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Cross and the Dragon by Kim Rendfeld

The Cross and the Dragon is the story of Alda, wife of Hruodland, the Roland of medieval epic poetry. Rather than focus on the epic battle at Roncevaux, the book allows the reader to see what life was like for the women who stayed behind while the men went off to war. The author brings incredible, historically accurate detail into the service of place and character, so even if you know nothing about the Middle Ages, this page-turner will be a painless learning experience.

(SPOILER ALERT) The author took inspiration from legends outside the medieval epic, such that Hruodland doesn't actually die at Roncevaux. The battle is only the beginning of the lovers' trials and tribulations as Hruodland tries to be reunited with Alda, who believes he is dead. The antagonist is so convincing in his irredeemable evil that even though I don't generally believe in revenge, I found his downfall immensely satisfying. This book has one of the tidiest, happiest endings I have read in years. (END SPOILERS)

I recommend this book for anyone who likes a good love story with their well-researched, atmospheric history.