In the midst of the eighth century beautiful young Alda struggles against the negotiations of her marriage to Ganelon, a vicious count whose menacing glare chills her heart. Refusing to resign herself to a life with such a loathsome man, she soon finds herself falling in love with Prince Hruodland, the handsome nephew of King Charles (known throughout history as Charlemagne). By desiring a marriage to the prince Alda sullies the already blackened waters of a blood feud between Ganelon and Hruodland’s families, inciting a new and unwavering wrath from her former suitor. As Ganelon threatens to exact his revenge the threat of war calls Charlemagne and his adversaries from Francia, and Alda must send her husband off in the company of a bloodthirsty foe, leaving her with nothing but a feeling of dread and the hope of a charmed pendant to bring her husband back safely.
Inspired by a medieval legend of the historic Roland – known here by his native Frankish name, Hruodland – Kim Rendfeld’s The Cross and the Dragon offers a new imagining of his world, one drawn through the creative possibilities of fiction. Alda takes the majority of the story’s focus, and it’s through her world that the reader comes to know Hruodland; their love story plays a leading role in the novel, with the vast historic elements of 778 presenting a striking backdrop. Alda is a character easy to enjoy, and the reader will find themselves endeared to her youthful ideas at age fifteen before admiring her courage in the trails that bring her unprecedented maturity later in the story. Her obstinacy never wavers, making her a memorable and delightful heroine. Her love for Hruodland is profoundly felt through the pages, and the characters’ determination to be reunited after the war catches the reader’s heartstrings in an instant.
The history in The Cross and the Dragon is a powerful presence as well. Although I was not very familiarized with the details of Charlemagne’s reign, the author’s meticulous research and creative liberties map out the story’s medieval world in simple but beautiful detail, effectively illustrating the era without pulling the reader’s focus away from the story. I felt as though I had stepped back in time and was watching the scenes play out, so clear was the picture that the novel presented. I fell easily into this world and felt wonderfully engaged with the characters, from Alda’s strength to Hruodland’s valor and even Ganelon’s vengeful wrath. Each character and historical element worked together to make The Cross and the Dragon a delightfully entertaining and thrilling read.
Title: The Cross and the Dragon
Author: Kim Rendfeld
Genre: Historical, romance
Publisher: Fireship Press
Release date: July 5, 2012
Provided by: Kim Rendfeld (C/O)
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