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TROUBADOUR by Mary Hoffman

TROUBADOUR

By Mary Hoffman

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-59990-367-5
Publisher: Bloomsbury

Intertwining narratives of the 13th century add up to less than the sum of their parts. Elinor, gawky daughter of Occitanian lord, nurses a crush on the much older troubadour Bertran; horrified at the prospect of expedient marriage, she runs away disguised as boy joglar. Bertran, meanwhile, carries a dangerous secret; himself a “heretic” Believer, he has witnessed the murder of the Pope’s legate and must carry warnings of impending war to the sympathetic nobles of southern France. As Elinor gradually matures from self-centered pubescent to a self-assured poet, patroness and wife, her tale alternates with Bertran’s perspective on the brutal Albigensian Crusade. This second story is far more compelling, with its serpentine politics and naked ambition masked by piety on every side, but it suffers from a confusing overload of names and places and battles. While Elinor’s adventures are more straightforward, she tends only to react to the choices of her companions and the rush of events. The plots finally intersect, but with less of a climax than a dispirited sputter. Serviceable, but it could have been so much more. (Historical fiction. YA)