KINGDOM OF THE GRAIL by A.A. Attanasio

KINGDOM OF THE GRAIL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Orthodox historical, set in late-12th-century Wales, from a writer whose previous concerns have ranged from hyperinvolved science fiction (The Last Legends of Earth, 1989) to pirate- sorcerer sagas (Wyvern, 1988). Ailena, the old, crippled baroness of Castle Lanfranc, is expelled by her evil grandson Guy and forced to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Along the way she meets Rebecca, a young, distant Jewish relative, traumatized by the slaughter of her family by Crusaders, who closely resembles Ailena as a young woman. So Ailena conceives her grand stratagem: fill Rebecca with Ailena's memories, stage a deathbed rejuvenation ``miracle,'' then send Rebecca in the persona of Ailena back to Lanfranc as the instrument of her revenge upon Guy. At Lanfranc, Ailena's daughter and the common people acclaim Rebecca as the old baroness reincarnate; but the unbelieving Guy and his vicious sidekick Roger are only dislodged, not vanquished. So Rebecca struggles to hold Lanfranc against a succession of kinsmen, nobles, and Welsh barbarians variously intent on assassinating, deposing, raping, or marrying her--with a final, bloody battle in prospect before Rebecca admits the deception and Guy finally gets his comeuppance. Deft, complex plotting and respectable period ambiance undermined by unconvincing characters, in particular a heroine who lacks feminine wiles, charm, and depth.

Pub Date: March 11th, 1992
ISBN: 0-06-017965-1
Page count: 512pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1992




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