Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Cult: A Novel of Two Norman Kingdoms by Richard Devlin

Opening Sentences: It happened so quickly - one moment she was kneeling at a shrine in Clarington Cathedral praying for her ailing aunt, the next, a pair of black-robed arms had seized her and a second pair had tied a gag around her mouth. At first, she was too stunned to struggle. By the time she did, it was too late; she was bound hand and foot in a windowless room beneath the tower of the cathedral.

Synopsis: A meeting of two worlds. A tale of forbidden love. A chronicle of heresy and crime. Set in the late twelfth century in England and Arab-Norman Sicily, The Cult is a beautifully written novel that follows the fates of Elise, Edmond, and Martin, three pupils of a learned English teacher. Early in the story, all three friends become caught in a web of deceit and threatened by an ancient Gnostic cult reincarnated in a new and monstrous form. Pledged to each other, Elise and Edmond strive to keep their love alive despite great opposition. One by one, each for a different reason, all three come to Arab-Norman Sicily, a rich and brilliant realm where Christians, Jews, and Muslims live in peace. In cosmopolitan Palermo, minarets rise beside church towers, the Norman king keeps a harem, and Muslims work with Christian clerics to recover classic texts. Here Martin meets Khalil al-Din, the Arab scholar who will change his life. As their imperiled lives unfold, all three friends struggle against both the evil of the cult and the oppressive prohibitions of their time. Their intimate stories bring to life an epic age whose conflicts closely parallel our own.

Review
by

This is the opening book in an exciting new trilogy entitled the Abraxas Chronicles, and it is a true stunner. The opening sentences hooked me until the story's ultimate conclusion. All the elements I love are included: an old abbey, a gothic feel, a multi-layered romance, murder, and an exciting plot! The secrets of an ancient old cult thrust the lives of three young persons into peril and force their separation, affecting them each in diverse ways. It was all so very fascinating and intriguing. 

Beautifully written, brilliantly plotted, this is a must read, especially for fans of Ken Follett, or aficionados of books set in the medieval era. It is much more than a murder myster, much more than a saga, much more than a romance. It is rich in every way. Loved it! Will definitely read more from this author. You should read it too! I am eagerly anticipating book 2 in the trilogy. 

Thank you to the author. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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