Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Of Faith and Fidelity by Evan Ostryzniuk

As the papal wars of the Western Schism rage across Europe, a young man takes his first step on the journey of a lifetime.
Geoffrey Hotspur dreams of knighthood. As an English orphan-squire bonded to the court of Sir John of Gaunt, uncle of the English King Richard II, his prospects are few.

An inveterate gambler already deep in debt, young Geoffrey accepts an invitation to participate in a raid on French lands. His plans go awry, however, after a deadly street brawl results in his banishment from court. As further punishment, he is ordered to join a royal commission bound for Florence.

Accompanied by Jean Lagoustine, a mysterious Frenchman whose intentions towards the young squire are not all they appear to be, the ship upon which they journey is waylaid by corsairs. Barely escaping with their lives, Geoffrey and Jean find themselves forming part of a company of Catalonian crossbowmen en route to enlist with the Roman papal army.

Intrigue and betrayal dominate the war between the two popes, and the young squire's understanding of faith and fidelity are soon challenged. The need to do right inspires Geoffrey to take a personal stake in the outcome of the conflict. With little more than his wits and a sword, the young squire must find a way to fulfill his duty to his lord, to his faith and to himself. As the war culminates in the final battle for the throne of St. Peter, will Geoffrey find that a knighthood is worth the risk to his honor?

Reviewer: PurpleRose
Starting in Avignon, France at the court of the Duke of Lancaster, the squire heads towards Florence on a mission from his Lord, then quite against his will, becomes a very minor pawn in the manoeuvrings of various captain-generals of Boniface and Clement, as their campaign for dominance unfolds.

A readable account of an unimportant squire, who gets embroiled in the schism in the Catholic Church, with the armies of two Popes battling it out in Italy. The author brings out the various demands of the different important criteria of the day, those being the pulls of religion, feudal ties and the behaviour expected of one whose ambition is to be knighted one day. Add to that mix an inveterate gambler and it's no wonder the squire is on a rocky and twisty road.

It was a pleasant enough read, but lack of real character development, left me with a somewhat dry account of the observations of a lesser cog, reacting to events unfolding around them and very little understanding of the motivations of the major players. I give it 3 stars.

Publisher: Knox Robinson


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