A squire pursues fortune, fame and the woman he loves—at any cost.
Gabourel’s medieval tale follows the adventures of Gaspard, who serves the up-and-coming Lord Fulk from the Castle de Hambie in Normandy. The two grow up more like close friends than as lord and squire; indeed, Gaspard’s esteem proves much higher than the average man of his rank. Despite numerous opportunities to rise in stature, Gaspard stays by Lord Fulk—that is, until the latter takes the beautiful Gisla as his wife, prompting Gaspard to jealousy. Growing increasingly antagonistic toward Lord Fulk, Gaspard eventually betrays him in a moment of critical political importance. His deeds haunt him, and those he loves, throughout the remainder of the novel. Beyond its inclusion of the mainstay themes of medieval literature, Gabourel’s tale maintains an overall healthy balance of action and reflection. Gaspard does not come across as a clichéd relic of times past; his complexity holds the novel together at its weakest points. In particular, for all the depth Gaspard’s character has, the novel does not adequately depict his transition from admiration to animus toward Lord Fulk. On the contrary, one comes away wishing that the plot spent more time building up toward the fateful climax. Beside issues of plot, the dialogue often comes off as too self-aware, not as authentic medieval speak but rather as imitation. These instances tend to stultify the action, particularly because a few scenes try much harder than others to ape medieval dialect. These criticisms aside, any reader looking for a quick, easy read brimming with violence and romance will be satisfied with Gabourel’s work. While this novel does not contain many surprises, its eagerness and heart rewards its audience in the end.
A legend of the Middle Ages bound to please most readers.