BLOOD RED, SISTER ROSE: A Novel of the Maid of Orleans by Thomas Keneally
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BLOOD RED, SISTER ROSE: A Novel of the Maid of Orleans

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This is probably Keneally's magnum opus, but like other culminating masterpieces its fictional components have been foreshadowed in his earlier, more modest novels. Again Keneally examines the predicament of the wise fools of this world, the forthright blunderers who, unlike the Establishment, take account of the realities of human suffering and cosmic bewilderment. Joan of Arc (Jehanne) accepts the reality of her Voices; the weak Dauphin, in a sense a blood brother in dangerous mysteries, knows almost as certainly that a sacrificial ""shadow-king"" will die to save him. That Jehanne's predispositions ripen at an Oak-King mandrake rite, or that the Dauphin is fed the blood brother tale in an impressionable childhood by a nurse, does not clear the mystery but rather underlines the peculiar logic of what is to follow. Through the imperial anthill battles ali around them -- the stench of slaughter, the chaos of accelerating corruption -- Jehanne, and up to a point the Dauphin, who strengthens as Jehanne weakens, play out their roles, driven from stage to stage by a drama already known to them both. Keneally, who writes of mandrake roots and the rot of power, mutilated warriors and homely peasant matters, with a precise, and sometimes ironic attention, enters the realm of the possessed with ease and confidence. One accepts Jehanne's ultimate sanity but one doubts the world's. With an imaginative use of dramatic dialogue, and span (the tale ends before Jehanne's final fall), a crisp modern idiom and considerable acrid humor, this is a fine addition to interpretations of the Maid.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1974
Publisher: Viking