I'm sharing another book from my Kindle backlist today. The Road from the West was the second novel by US Indy author Rosanne E Lortz. Her first book I Serve: A Novel of the Black Prince remains among my all-time favourites.
You've heard of the Knights Templar, you've heard of Richard the Lionheart-now learn the story that started it all with the adventures of the First Crusade.
Haunted by guilt from the past and nightmares of the future, a young Norman named Tancred takes the cross and vows to be the first to free Jerusalem from the infidels. As he journeys to the Holy Land, he braves vast deserts, mortal famine, and the ever-present ambushes of the enemy Turks-but the greatest danger of all is deciding which of the Crusader lords to trust.
A mysterious seer prophesies that Tancred will find great love and great sorrow on his journey, but the second seems intent on claiming him before he can find the first. Intrigues and passions grow as every battle brings the Crusaders one step closer to Jerusalem. Not all are destined to survive the perilous road from the West.
The book was supposed to be the first in a series, entitled the Chronicles of Tancred. It follows a young Norman nobleman who would become a leader of the First Crusade, and later gained the title of Prince of Galilee.
Now, in case you're wondering, he was part of a different group of Normans to the ones who conquered England under the command of Duke William in 1066. This group ended up conquering much of Southern Italy and established a Kingdom for themselves in Sicily in the early 11th century. Some of them then joined the First Crusade and established themselves in the Holy Land and the Crusader Kingdoms in Syria and Lebanon.
I'm just about two thirds of the way through Road from the West, and like Mrs Lortz first book, it bears mentioning that this is not a romance. Its serious Historical Fiction about real people, and their actions and motives. So there is intrigue, politics and a fear deal of violence because these were fighting men.
There are romantic elements with some of the female characters, especially a young Greek woman called Alexandra, but its not central to the story.
What I do like about the story is it explores the complex motives and different personalities of the men who took part in a historical event that would become infamous. People and history are not 'black and white' as movies and the mass media often make out, and that comes across here.
I am sad about two things though: first of all this novel is now out of Print. I only have it on my Kindle because I purchased it about 3 years ago before it disappeared from Kindle and other ebook platforms.
Second: There is no sequel. The title character had a fairly long and eventful life, and this novel was meant to be part of a trilogy.
Although I know that the author was working on the the second book a few years back, I think it was never finished and I don't know if the series will ever be republished.
Since then the talented Rosanne E Lortz has established her own Publishing company and has written three books in a Regency Suspense series, as well as being a wife and mom to three boys.
So without further ado (because I have been rambling an awful lot), here is today's first line.
"The stars changed their courses the day that Tancred the marquis tossed aside his sword and strode off the field of battle. It was not from fear, for he walked slowly, his back an easy target for enemy spears and arrows"
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