I found myself in unfamiliar territory regarding location, time and subject while reading The Fire and the Light, not that that is a bad thing. The 13th Century is not my normal reading period, French history is not my usual subject and the Albigensian Crusade is just a distant history lesson long since forgotten. What I found in picking up this book is a marvelous story by Mr. Craney. He has taken the bits and pieces of this historical event and has crafted a tale worthy enough to be thought of as actual history, rather than fiction. The characters are superbly written, from the spiritual leader of the Cathars, Esclarmonde, to the dastardly members of the Church seeking to destroy her and her band of heretics. The emotions and the conflicts engendered by the Cathar beliefs are true high points in the narrative; the giving up of everything, including those you love, the willingness to die for those beliefs, the extreme suffering endured…all of this and more kept me enthralled and entertained throughout the tale. Once again, I found myself immersed in a setting so brutally real that I would put the book down for a bit, catch my breath before returning to it. 4.7 stars and a Hoover Book Review “Highly Recommended Award”
Oh what a tangled web Charlene Newcomb has weaved in the second installment of Battle Scars. The Crusaders have returned home to England without King Richard who languishes as a ‘guest’ of his enemies on the continent. For King and Country tells the tale of how Henry, Stephan and Robin deal with the turmoil being fomented by Prince John and his grab for the English throne. Well, that’s the main plot and it is supported by a myriad of sub-plots and those are what make this book a real winner. The relationships, those sought after, and those that are eventually realized bear witness to the author’s ability to reach into the human heart; to make the anguish, the joys, the sorrows, leap from the page while shes ties the threads of the web together. Strong characters, vivid detail and an interesting take on the Robin Hood mythology make this page turning adventure a joy to read. 5 stars
When I started this book I expected a story about the Third Crusade; one that would bring to the fore the majesty and the folly of the venture. Those elements were certainly on display as the author leads the reader on an exciting, entertaining and surprisingly evocative tale. From the mustering of Richard’s knights to the taking of Sicily and through all of the adventures they encountered before arriving at Acre. The action is portrayed in nice detail, the political intrigue between Richard and Phillip gives the reader a taste of what that time was like and mimics a little I suppose what our time is like even now…that old adage that history repeats. As to the characters, well I for one was drawn into their feelings, the ones of joy and the frequent bouts of sorrow and confusion. The two main protagonists are fictional characters, Henry DeGray and Stephan l’Aigle, two knights in the retinue of King Richard. Henry is on his first Crusade, indeed his first time going into harm’s way while Stephan is a seasoned veteran having fought by Richard’s side before. Neither one of them comes out of this adventure the same way they went in. So much angst, so much confusion, so much revilement, and yet so much love. Among the co-stars of this tale are the very real King Richard Lionheart, Sir Robin(yes that Robin), Allan(yes that Allan), Little John(yes oh you get it by now) 🙂 However, Robin and his two mates are given here with a slightly different slant…there is no taint of an outlaw to Robin and his companions are younger in this story and play some interesting roles throughout. Now as for Henry and Stephan, I cannot say enough about how well crafted these two are; kudos to Char. I recommend this book highly and cannot wait for the sequel. 5 Stars
Charlene Newcomb. Char. That’s me.
Mom to 3 grown, amazing children.
I live in Kansas. Yes, Toto. Kansas.
Born & raised in South Carolina, I wanted a life of adventure and travel. I realized that dreams of hitting the big time with my all-girl rock band Liberation were just that – dreams. And becoming an astronaut wasn’t in the cards. So I joined the Navy to see the world and spent six years as a communications technician/voice language analyst. I fit college into my life (BA in History, and many years later an MA in Library Science). That desire to travel in space translated into writing science fiction: I published 10 short stories in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, many featuring a Rebel underground freedom fighter named Alex Winger. I have published 2 novels, one a contemporary drama, Keeping the Family Peace; the other,Men of the Cross (book 1 of Battle Scars), which allows me to share my love of history with readers. Book 2 of the series will be published in 2015.
Welcome to my worlds.
Contact me at charlenenewcomb at gmail dot com.
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