Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Book Review: Road from the West by Rosanne E. Lortz

Welcome to the next stop on the virtual book tour for Rosanne E. Lortz's Road from the West, sponsored by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.  Be sure to check out all the stops on the tour of this fabulous new series.  The tour schedule is listed at the conclusion of this post.

Rosanne E. Lortz's Website:

Twitter Event Hashtag for Tour:    #RoadFromTheWestVirtualBookTour

Road from the West
(Chronicles of Tancred, Book One)

A tale of Courage, Conquest, Intrigue, and Honor.

You know the Knights Templar, you know Richard the Lionheart—now learn the story that started it all in 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 latter 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 road from the West.

*          *          *

While I do enjoy historical fiction, in the past I have not been attracted to the period of the Crusades.  As a Christian I’m not very proud of that era in our history.  With Road from the West, I hoped that Rosanne Lortz’s vision for this period would be informative, accurate, yet still entertaining. My actual knowledge of the subject is minimal, and while I wanted to learn more about it, I was looking for more than just a textbook in ancient Christian church history.

Fortunately, Lortz has succeeded in all of these areas.  Her research and knowledge of the period are evident, as the details in her writing seem true to history, and easily transport the reader back in time almost 1,000 years.  The story is interesting, and while there were a few moments that were a little dry, the plot kept moving well.  She deftly ended many chapters in a way that made me want to read “just one more”. 

Tancred is an interesting character.  He’s a young, flawed martial leader, driven to redeem himself by serving the Church in the first Crusade.  Through righteous acts and his goal of conquering Jerusalem for the Christian church, he feels he can atone for sins of the past.  He’s incredibly loyal, only swearing fealty if he knows he can keep that commitment and if that promise doesn’t violate his allegiance to another.  Tancred is particularly tied to the Catholic church in Rome and refuses to also swear a loyalty oath to the Byzantine Emperor Alexius, for example.  Driven to see his cause through, he’ll go against friends and family to do what needs to be done.  And despite his young age, he’s a wise and intelligent leader to the men and women who serve him and are under his care.

While Road from the West is certainly about the many battles along Tancred’s road to Jerusalem, it isn’t overly bloody.  There are mentions of beheadings and other acts of war, but Lortz keeps the details at bay as much as can be expected given the subject matter.  There is a surprising lack of coarse language, and in this particular title there’s really no sexual content.  Rosanne could have easily used this novel as a soapbox regarding the issue of inappropriate “righteous” behavior on the part of the crusading Christians, but she doesn’t do that.  The crusaders’ choices aren’t glossed over—they’re presented as historical facts, and Lortz seems to keep her opinions out of the dialogue and other fictionalized content within the narrative.

When I reached the end of Road to the West, I not only felt like I learned a thing or two about the first Crusade, Tancred the marquis and the religious/political goings on of the era, but I also enjoyed a good story.  Rosanna Lortz has two more titles to come in the Chronicles of Tancred trilogy, and if they’re anything like this first segment, they’ll definitely be worth my time.  Book One is a great start to an informative, entertaining series.

*          *          *

Calico Casting Call – For the Movie in My Head
(With the appropriate age and look for their characters)
Tancred - Chris Hemsworth
Bohemond - Russell Crowe
Roger - Gerard Butler
William - Aaron Ashmore
Emma - Cate Blanchett
Alexandra - Natalie Portman
Erminia - Aishwarya Rai
The Sultana - Freida Pinto

*          *           *

Road to the West Virtual Book Tour

Rosanne E. Lortz
Friday, September 2nd - Review at The Maiden's Court

Monday, September 5th - Author Guest Post and Giveaway at The Maiden's Court

Tuesday, September 6th -
Review at Debbie'sBookBag
Author Guest Post and Giveaway at From the TBR Pile 

Wednesday, September 7th
- Review at The Calico Critic

Thursday, September 8th
Review at Unabridged Chick
Review at A Journey Into Reading

Friday, September 9th - Author Guest Post at A Journey Into Reading

Monday, September 12th
- Review at Broken Teepee

Tuesday, September 13th - Author Interview and Giveaway at Unabridged Chick 

Wednesday, September 14th - Author Guest Post and Giveaway at Broken Teepee

Friday, September 16th
- Review at Diary of a Book Addict

Tuesday, September 20th
- Review at Bibliophilic Book Blog

Wednesday, September 21st
- Review at A Bookish Affair

Thursday, September 22nd
- Author Guest Post at Bibliophilic Book Blog

Monday, September 26th
- Review at Just One More Paragraph

Tuesday, September 27th
- Review at The Musings of a Book Junkie

Wednesday, September 28th
- Author Guest Post at Just One More Paragraph

Thursday, September 29th - Review at Sharon's Garden of Book Reviews

Friday, September 30th
- Review at By the By Books

Monday, October 3rd - Review and Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Tuesday, October 4th
- Author Interview at The Musings of a Book Junkie

Wednesday, October 5th
- Review at Bippity Boppity Book

Thursday, October 6th
- Review at A Few More Pages

Friday, October 7th
- Review at The Owl Bookmark Blog

Monday, October 10th
- Review at Historically Obsessed

Tuesday, October 11th
- Author Interview and Giveaway at The Owl Bookmark Blog

Wednesday, October 12th - Review at Between the Pages

Thursday, October 13th - Review at Words and Peace 

Friday, October 14th -
Review at Reviews by Molly

Monday, October 17th
- Review at Erin Reads

Tuesday, October 18th - Author Interview at Reviews by Molly

Wednesday, October 19th - Review at The True Book Addict

Thursday, October 20th - Author Guest Post and Giveaway at The True Book Addict

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