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Review: The Road to Jerusalem, by Jan Guillou


Pages: 380
Original publication date: 1998 (in Swedish)
My edition: 2009 (Harper)
Why I decided to read: Elizabeth Chadwick recommended on her website.
How I acquired my copy: bought from bookdepository UK
Arn of Gotha is born in 1150, the younger son of a wealthy landowner. After a miracle occurs, Arn is sent to a monastery, where he is trained in both spiritual and physical matters—in the latter, by a former Knight Templar. The novel covers Arn’s early years, up until the time he is sent off to fight as a Knight Templar himself. The outcome of the novel is inevitable, but it’s the way that Arn gets there that is particularly interesting.

It’s not an easy read, by any stretch; I don’t know if it’s Jan Guillou’s writing style or the way the translator translated the book, but there were certain passages that were a bit slow going for me. There’s also a lot in here about faith and sin, although I didn’t find the religious bits off putting. Rather, it led an air of veracity to the whole novel. There’s also a fair amount of Swedish history thrown in, though Guillou doesn’t hit his reader over the head with it. The political maneuverings of medieval Sweden can be a bit confusing, though.

More than anything, though, this is a coming of age novel, set in a place that I really didn’t know much about 9I’m familiar with 12th-century history in other parts of Europe, but Sweden was a whole new ball game for me). It was a little hard for me to believe that Arn could be such an innocent about certain things, but I think the author handled Arn’s development as the central character especially well. The Road to Jerusalem is the first book in a trilogy that continues with The Knight Templar and Birth of the Kingdom.

Comments

Gwendolyn B. said…
Hmmm. I REALLY don't know anything about Swedish history! The book does sound a bit challenging. I commend you for sticking to it and telling us a bit about it.
Marg said…
I have this waiting to be picked up at the library. I am not sure if I am going to be able to get through it in the time I have it out, but I will try.

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2015 Reading

January
1. The Vanishing Witch, by Karen Maitland
2. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
3. Texts From Jane Eyre, by Mallory Ortberg
4. Brighton Rock, by Graham Green
5. Brat Farrar, by Josephine Tey
6. Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
7. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
8. A Movable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
9. A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf
10. Other Voices, Other Rooms, by Truman Capote
11. Maggie-Now, by Betty Smith

February
1. Middlemarch, by George Eliot
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
3. Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate, by Cynthia Lee
4. Music For Chameleons, by Truman Capote
5. Peyton Place, by Grace Metalious
6. Unrequited, by Lisa Phillips
7. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
8. A Lost Lady, by Willa Cather

March
1. Persuasion, by Jane Austen
2. Love With a Chance of Drowning, by Torre DeRoche
3. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
4. Miss Buncle's Book, by DE Stevenson
5. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garc…