This novel of historical fiction gave me insights into a world that has always intrigued me, but of which I knew nothing.
After reading this book, I feel I have emerged with a more serious education, both in archaeology and in history.
In alternating chapters, we are provided with an enticing and exciting education – first, on what happens on a dig in 1926; and second, on what life was like in a medieval castle in Western Galilee in 1271, in the Montfort castle near Acre.
No one could have been better qualified to write this book than Australian- born author Adrian Boas, who is a professor emeritus at the University of Haifa, and who personally spent 15 years excavating this fortress, which is the principal location of his novel.
The characters in the American-led excavation of Montfort castle hold our interest throughout the novel. Their discovery of a concealed, subterranean passage and what it contains maintains our unflagging curiosity. Alternately, we are spellbound by going back more than seven centuries to the events, the Crusader participants and the siege at this medieval castle.
The writing is often beautiful and poetic. “I walked down... and crouched at the edge of the stream. It flowed musically between the stones, like knotted silver, deep and light, full of color and shadows.”
This novel is a double drama that holds your interest until the end.
There is every element you would want – secrecy, a murder and even alchemy – something I have always wondered about, and which doesn’t disappoint.
There is also a trace of romance, but this rather takes a back seat and perhaps could have been portrayed more strongly.
By reading this novel, I feel I have gained a great deal of knowledge of history and archaeology; how a dig is conducted; and what life was like among the Crusader knights in the 13th century.
This is a novel you will never forget for its feeling of authenticity, and for characters you will come to care about. The writer is the author of 14 books. Her latest novel is Searching for Sarah.