Thursday, December 8, 2016

G775 Book Review of purged by fire heresy of the cathars by Diane Bonavist

Name of Book: purged by fire heresy of the cathars

Author: Diane Bonavist

ISBN: 978-0-86698-810-0

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 Monts├ęgur. 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.

Author Information:
(From France book Tours)


purged-by-fire-diane-bonavistDiane Bonavist’s fiction
has appeared in Tiferet Journal,
The Milo Review, Fable Online,
and The RavensPerch.
She is a former Editor in chief of Tiferet Journal.
Her other novels are  Daughters of Nyx,
a mystery of ancient Greece and Waters and the Wild,
a multi-generational story set in the Hudson River Valley,
both to be published in 2017. 
Visit her website. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter
Subscribe to her newsletter


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


Friday, December 2
Spotlight + Giveaway at Words And Peace
Monday, December 5
Review by Denise
Tuesday, December 6
Review by Kristen
Thursday, December 8
Review at Svetlana’s reads and views
Friday, December 9
Review + Excerpt + Giveaway at
Musings of a Writer & Unabashed Francophile
Monday, December 12
Review + Giveaway at A Book Geek
Wednesday, December 14
Review + Giveaway at The French Village Diaries

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.)


  1. Thanks for your review.
    Yes, there's much more than Crusades against Jews and Muslims in Medieval Church history, especially in the South of France. And to complicate things, there are other groups persecuted, not just the Cathars and the Albigensians!
    I see you actually gave 4/5. So what did you find enjoyable in the book?

    Do you mind explaining why you think it's actually very important to know if it ends in 1237 or 1244?

  2. Surprisingly the ending and it's plot twist, but it's not something many readers will like. In 1237, some people were sentenced to be burned, yet the story goes on to 1244 after the siege, and in the book, as I see, only five or so years have passed not ten, which makes it difficult to pin down the time for me.

  3. Your rating 4/5 seems a little high for the review you provided. But it seems you enjoyed it overall.

  4. Thanks Svetlana for adding more explanations on what you really enjoyed in the book, now I'm really intrigued with this ending!


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