Monday, March 29, 2010

The Crusader - Michael Alexander Eisner

the crusader
michael alexander eisner
c. 2001
315 pages
completed 3/24/2010

read for: tbr challenge, year of the historical challenge

*may contain spoilers*

The rain had let up.

Brother Lucas, prior of the monastery of Santes Crues in Catalonia, is concerned for the fate of an old friend recently returned from the Holy Land, having fought in the Crusades. Fransisco is said to be possessed by demons and Brother Lucas is called to perform an exorcism. After months spent together trying to exorcise the demons, Fransisco begins to tell of his time on crusade, beginning with the death of his older brother Sergio. Fransisco's story is one of horror, a story of cruelty and treachery and guilt. It is up to Brother Lucas to hear Fransisco's confession and save his soul.

I've always been interested in the Crusades, so I really enjoyed reading about some particulars in this book. And it was an interesting vehicle in which to tell the story, hearing about it as Fransisco's confession and exorcism. I think this allowed the reader to see more of how events affected Fransisco so terribly. Events didn't just happen, there was a lasting impression and consequence.

There were some pretty uncommon characters I thought. Especially Brother Lucas. At first I had a much more favorable impression of him, a concerned and kindly monk who wanted to help his friend. However, as the book progressed more of his personality emerged and I began to lose a lot of affection for him as he proved to be more and more ambitious and self serving and sanctimonious.

As much as I enjoyed Fransisco's revelation of his time in the Holy Land and Lucas' description of his efforts to exorcise Fransisco's demons, I felt that it didn't connect with the first chapter or two. In those chapters we were introduced to Lucas and Fransisco and Fransisco's cousin Andres, but as I read on they seemed out of place. The story they told, of Fransisco and Andres' dealings with the Abbot, didn't have much bearing on the rest of the story, and their actions felt uncharacteristic as I continued reading. I agree that there needed to be some introductory chapters to see these three as boyhood friends, but I don't think the episode that was told worked with the rest of the book.


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