Saturday, June 13, 2009
Review: Daughters of the Grail, by Elizabeth Chadwick
Set in France in the early 13th century, Daughters of the Grail (previously published as Children of Destiny) features the Albigensian Crusade against the Cathar heresy. Bridget, while not a Cathar, is a healer who is wanted for heresy nonetheless. Her story is intertwined with that of Raoul de Montvallant, a Cathar sympathizer. The story continues in the next generation with Magda and Dominic.
I’d studied the Cathars in school, but it’s been a while, so I was glad for the opportunity to have my memory refreshed. While I didn’t enjoy Daughters of the Grail as much as I've enjoyed some of Chadwick’s other novels (her earlier books are heavier on the romance than the history), I did enjoy the story, especially in the second half of the book, when Magda and Dominic’s stories took over. There is, however, great character development, and this novel is well-researched, as Chadwick’s books always are. I wasn’t too keen on all the “visions” that the characters kept having, and had a hard time keeping track of that was real and what wasn’t. On the other hand, Chadwick’s descriptions are excellent, and the scenes at the end are so horrifyingly real that you feel as though you’re actually there watching it all happen. For more on the Cathar heresy, read the first two pages of the author’s note at the end before reading this book.