The first book Song at Dawn is set in the Narbonne in the 12th Century and is the story of Estela who starts the book on the run and hiding in a ditch, but soon is rescued and taken to the Court of Queen Alienor, (Eleanor of Aquitaine), who recognises her talent and extraordinary voice. From there she goes to the court of Ermengarde where she is taken under the wing of Dragonetz, a Troubadour. Dragonetz has a dream of supplying the world with paper to loosen the control of the Church over the populace, and his ambition to build a paper mill is a radical one and the cause of bloodshed and danger. From here the story takes off into a tale full of court politics, dashing knights, and passionate song, all set aginst the heightened religious fervour and brutality of the Crusades.
I’ve read the beginning book, the end book (an ARC)and three quarters of Bladesong – the one in the middle, but wanted to highlight the series because the last book releases today!
Here’s my review of Song Hereafter :
Jean Gill’s Song Hereafter, the final book in the series about troubadours Dragonetz and Estela is tour de force. Every character, and that includes the horses, dogs and hawks, is bursting with vitality, and Gill’s lush descriptions of Moorish palaces seduce you as they send you on journey full of treachery, adventure and romance.
At the heart of these books are the religious divisions that shaped that era, and so there are enemies aplenty, and real passions as each character crusades for their ‘true’ God and cause. I made the mistake of reading the first book and then the last in this series so I have some catching up to do! But I loved the characters and the settings – the chivalrous, courageous Dragonetz and the sweet-voiced Estela who is searching for a true place to belong. In this series, the places of twelfth century europe – the papermills of France, the wilds of Wales, the pilgrimage routes are all brought skilfully to life.
This is epic literary historical fiction at its best. Highly recommended.