Author: Diane Bonavist
Publisher: Bagwyn Books
Type of book: 1234-1244? France, Albigensian Crusades, fire, martyrdom, cuckold, history, South France, heretics, siege, survival, Catholics vs Cathars, history
Year it was published: 2016
In 1209, with the infamous words 'Kill them all, God will recognize his own' the pope's crusade against his own Catholic faithful commenced. For two decades, this holy war to defeat the Cathar heresy decimated the troubadour culture of Southern France. But when it failed to destroy the heretical faith, the papacy gave special powers of inquisition to Dominican monks. Their mission was to root out heretics, confiscate property, and burn the unrepentant at the stake.
Purged by Fire: Heresy of the Cathars tells the stories of three people ensnared in the fatal complicities of the Inquisition. Isarn believes he has survived the wars by accepting the will of the pope and the French rule until Marsal, a child he once rescued from Crusaders, arrives on his doorstep, forcing him to question every conciliation he has ever made. Marsal has lost everything to the Inquisition. Raised to always turn the other cheek, she is ready now to fight for what the Church has stolen. Chretien, a nobleman dispossessed by the French, can barely recall his life before Marsal. Condemned and hunted by the Church, they escape to the mountain fortress of Montségur. Here, as the forces of the Inquisition lay siege to their place of refuge, Chretien and Marsal must make one final choice, between life and love or death and faith.
Main characters include Isarn Benet, a man who seems to have made his peace with life and is only looking for happiness. He has participated in a lot of events relating to the Albigensian Crusades and has a secret that he wants to tell Chretien before his time comes. Marsal is a young lady who secretly was raised by her own grandmother and she goes through a lot of pain and heartache to become whom she is. She also crushes quite a bit on Chretien and has an adventurous spirit. Chretien a young man who sacrifices whatever he can into the cause he believes in and also has his own secrets that he must reveal to Isarn and Marsal.
Life is not simple
Its written in both third and first person narrative. First person narrative are the interchangeable chapters between that of Marsal and Isarn, while the third person narrative belongs to Chretien. I do honestly feel as if there should have been more of Chretien in the book because he seems to be the strongest voice, while Marsal and Isarn were not as strong as he. The timeline of the story is a bit skewed because I'm not sure when the story finishes: does it finish in 1237 or 1244? (and yes, there is a big difference as to when it finishes and why its confusing.) I'm not sure how to make it sound without spoils, but its not a light fluffy read, and its a far more darker read than I anticipated, even much more darker than Romeo and Juliet.
(From France book Tours)
When I took a class on Crusades, we studied a little bit of Albigensian Crusades where the pope declared a Crusade against a group known as Cathars. Considering that I learnt this in Crusades class and not when I took Medieval Ages, I doubt that many people know or have heard about Albigensian Crusades. I'll be honest in saying that when it comes to christian faiths, all of them are quite a bit beyond me, besides in how the scriptures are interpreted. As I recall, the Albigensian Crusades are very controversial, especially for back then because its not against Muslims or Jews that the Crusades were called against, but they were called against christians who thought a bit differently than Catholics. Now that the brief history is over, on to the story. What I liked about the story is the way it ended, which probably marks me in minority, but its an ending that will forever stay with me, especially the motives and reasons for why the characters took the path they did. It also was cool to see an author shed light and bring some attention to this controversial crusade, and to remind the populace that fighting over bible and its interpretation is nothing new. Although I should have connected with the story well and should have been able to relate to the characters or to their situation quite a bit, (persecution and not believing the same way that Catholics have,) I wasn't able to connect at all to the characters and even had difficulty understanding them. I'm really not sure why. I feel that the story tended to be disjointed and as a reviewer previously mentioned, I am not certain of the timeline because the story begins in 1234, but does it end in 1244 or 1237? Reason being is that according to the timeline, in 1237, there appeared to be burning of Cathars, but the book does go into Siege of the city as well as its conclusion, yet the book doesn't make it sound as if ten years has passed by.
This is for France Book Tours
4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)