#NewRelease Rosie’s #Bookreview of Medieval #Histfic The Column Of Burning Spices by @pk_adams

The Column of Burning Spices: A Novel of Germany's First Female Physician (Hildegard of Bingen Book 2)The Column of Burning Spices: A Novel of Germany’s First Female Physician by P.K. Adams

4 stars

The Column Of Burning Spices is book two of the Hildegard of Bingen series. Hildegard is regarded as Germany’s first physician; this book takes place in the twelfth century. You can read my review of book one, The Greenest Branch, here.

A little historic background: the Catholic Church continued with the power struggles between the papacy and the secular rulers of the Holy Roman Empire. During the time of this book, the dispute was over who had the right to appoint Bishops; it caused a civil war.

At the Abbey of St. Disibod, Hildegard’s success as a physician brings useful money to the Abbey, as does her writing on medicines and her faith. But she is constantly despised by Prior Helenger, who has influence over the Abbot, and she faces opposition from other men within the church whom believe that woman should have limited roles.

An opportunity arises for Hildegard and her fellow nuns to leave the Abbey. Hildegard builds a convent around her own principles of peace and harmony. She becomes renowned for her opinion about the corruption which infiltrates and threatens the survival of the church. Slowly, her views on those who seek personal gain from promotion begin to become popular.

The author paints a vivid picture of this period of history. There were a lot of characters in positions of power that were part of the story, but the author dealt with them well, without it feeling like a history lesson. The focus is on Hildegard and her achievements which included writing, composing and philosophy. I particularly enjoyed her thirst for knowledge about healing and the practice of using herbs and hygiene as opposed to bloodletting.

Overall, I thought this series was a very good insight into the life and works of a woman who later became a Saint.

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Book description

An ambitious woman. Medieval Church hierarchy. The struggle will be epic.

“A fascinating portrayal of one of history’s most remarkable women, Hildegard of Bingen—composer, mystic, theologian, and physician. The characters and settings come alive on the page, and by the end I felt as if I’d traveled in time to 12th-century Germany.” –C.P. Lesley, author of The Golden Lynx.

In The Column of Burning Spices, part two of the Hildegard of Bingen series which began with The Greenest Branch, the medieval era comes vividly to life in all its romanticism and splendor. However, the societal strictures that prevent women from being able to access education and live independent lives are also on display.

The year is 1143. Hildegard, already a well-known physician, has expanded her work to writing not just about medicine but on theological matters as well. Once again, the monks of St. Disibod are there to stop her, citing the biblical passages that admonish against “women teachers.” Also, Abbot Kuno is aging, and it is only a matter of time before he is succeeded in the post by Prior Helenger, who wants nothing more than to see Hildegard permanently relegated to the convent’s enclosure.

Leaving St. Disibod is Hildegard’s only hope of continuing her mission of healing and writing as she sees fit. She has been saving money from the convent’s endowments for years, but in order to establish her own foundation she will need the backing of a powerful man of the Church. There are several who could become her champions – from the famed Abbot Bernard of Clairvaux, to the Archbishop of Mainz, to the newly elected Pope Eugenius III. But will they take up a woman’s cause and subvert centuries of established tradition? And will it be enough to protect Hildegard from a betrayal that lurks closer than she could ever imagine?

Set against the backdrop of the lush oak forests, vineyard-covered hills, and sparkling rivers of the Rhineland, The Column of Burning Spices is a tale of courage, strength, sacrifice, and love that will appeal to fans of Ken Follett, Sharon Kay Penman, Bernard Cornwell, and Conn Iggulden.

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#NewRelease My #BookReview of #HistFic Daughter Of War by @SJATurney @canelo_co

Daughter of War (Knights Templar #1)Daughter of War by S.J.A. Turney

4 stars

Daughter Of War (Knights Templar #1) is historical fiction set in 1198. It revolves around the mysterious Templar Knights. The book opens with a battle in the Aragon area between Spanish Lords and a raiding group of Moors. Arnau de Vallbona is among the Spaniards, fighting alongside his Lord. But Arnau is unsure of his future when Lord Berenguer de Santa Coloma is killed . Berenguer’s heir is his fifteen year old daughter; however, straight after her father’s funeral, the king’s representative orders her betrothal to the vile Ferrer della Cadeneta, a treacherous man who did nothing to save Berenguer when he had the opportunity.

But the fifteen year old Lady Titborge is no child, and she asks Arnau to help her escape. They seek refuge at a Templar monastery in Roureel, offering the Templars the lands and wealth of the Santa Coloma estates. But just how low will della Cadeneta stoop to get the fortune that Titborge can give him?

Religion was a strong theme in the medieval era, and most readers of history know of the Knights Templar. Less is written about the order in Spain. Turney has chosen to base his story around two, real life, Templar sisters. Woven throughout the story are strong Templar themes of religion. But we are also reminded that, in reality, the Templar rubrics would have been melded with secular habits to fit the needs of the monasteries and the demands on the knights.

The story follows Arnau’s narrative; there are plenty of fight scenes as Cadeneta is relentless in his attempts to get either Titborge or her estate titles. This will appeal to readers who like a story which doesn’t have a romantic sub-plot. Overall, an interesting insight into both brothers and sisters of the Knights Templar.

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Book description

An extraordinary story of the Knights Templar, seen from the bloody inside
Europe is aflame. On the Iberian Peninsula the wars of the Reconquista rage across Aragon and Castile. Once again, the Moors are gaining the upper hand. Christendom is divided.
Amidst the chaos comes a young knight: Arnau of Valbona. After his Lord is killed in an act of treachery, Arnau pledges to look after his daughter, whose life is now at risk. But in protecting her Arnau will face terrible challenges, and enter a world of Templars, steely knights and visceral combat he could never have imagined.
She in turn will find a new destiny with the Knights as a daughter of war… Can she survive? And can Arnau find his destiny?

About the author

Simon lives with his wife and children and a menagerie of animals in rural North Yorkshire, where he sits in an office, wired on coffee and digestive biscuits, and attempts to spin engrossing tales out of strands of imagination while his children drive toys across his desk and two dogs howl as they try to share a brain cell.

A born and bred Yorkshireman with a love of country, history and architecture, Simon spends most of his rare free time travelling around ancient sites, writing, researching the ancient world and reading voraciously.

Following an arcane and eclectic career path that wound through everything from sheep to Microsoft networks and from paint to car sales, Simon wrote Marius’ Mules and, with help and support, made a success of it. Now, with in excess of 20 novels under his belt, Simon writes full time and is represented by MMB Creative literary agents.

Simon writes Roman military novels in the form of the bestselling Marius’ Mules series based on Julius Caesar’s campaigns, Roman thrillers in the Praetorian series, set during the troubled reign of Commodus, medieval adventures in the Ottoman Cycle, following a young Greek thief around the 15th century world, and a series of Historical Fantasy novels with a Roman flavour, called the Tales of the Empire.

S.J.A. Turney

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