Can love triumph over war?
772 AD: Charlemagne’s battles in Saxony have left Leova with nothing but her two children, Deorlaf and Sunwynn. Her beloved husband died in combat. Her faith lies shattered in the ashes of Irminsul, the Pillar of Heaven. The relatives obligated to defend her and her family sell them into slavery instead.
In Francia, Leova is resolved to protect her son and daughter, even if it means sacrificing her own honor. Her determination only grows stronger as Sunwynn blossoms into a beautiful young woman, attracting the lust of a cruel master, and Deorlaf becomes a headstrong man willing to brave starvation and demons to free his family. Yet Leova’s most difficult dilemma comes in the form of a Frankish friend, Hugh. He saves Deorlaf from a fanatical Saxon and is Sunwynn’s champion — but he is the warrior who slew Leova’s husband.
Set against a backdrop of historic events, including the destruction of the Irminsul, The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar explores faith, friendship, and justice. This companion to Kim Rendfeld’s acclaimed The Cross and the Dragon tells the story of an ordinary family in extraordinary circumstances.
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The Ashes of Heaven's Pillar brings Kim Rendfeld's painstaking research and sensitive psychological drama to some people we never hear about in the history books. Not only are the main characters the losers in Charlemagne's campaigns, but they also start out in a hardscrabble life and spend most of the book under horrifying conditions of servitude. As in Rendfeld’s first novel, the emotional impact of the story slowly builds to epic proportions as the plot becomes more complex, but it never dips into the realm of fantasy. The situations and characters are relentlessly real, with hard choices and terrible villains who are, if we stop and think about it, products of their time. I’m also impressed with the depictions of travel in Ashes: it’s hard and sometimes boring for the characters, but for the reader it’s never dull. This novel is a true immersion into a foreign time and place. When you’ve finished reading, you’ll be able to remember the houses, castles, markets, and bathhouses (yes, medieval people bathed regularly!) as if you had been there yourself.
The reader will sympathize with Leova and her family. The author throws tremendous obstacles at them, but they persevere and come to satisfying conclusions with family, living conditions, and even a little romance.
The Cross and the Dragon, Rendfeld's strong debut, illuminated a “dark age” for readers with a wonderful story, and The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar manages to surpass it. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
The Ashes of Heaven's Pillar debuted on August 28. See it here!
Advance Praise for The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar
“Carolingian Europe comes alive in Kim Rendfeld’s sweeping story of family and hope, set against the Saxon Wars. Her transportive and triumphant novel immerses us in an eighth century world that feels both mystical and starkly real.” —Jessica Brockmole, author of Letters from Skye
“A captivating historical filled with rich detail, compelling characters, and a well-paced plot that keeps the pages turning to its very satisfying end. A true delight for fans of historical fiction. I couldn’t put it down.” —Susan Spann, author of the Shinobi Mysteries
“The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar is refreshingly set in a less familiar medieval period – soon after Charlemagne has conquered a portion of today’s Germany and its people. The characters are refreshing also, common folk instead of the lords and ladies who are the usual inhabitants of historical novels, and how they adjust to their new condition is fascinating. Altogether, this book was absorbing from start to finish.” —Roberta Gellis, author of The Roselynde Chronicles
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