Mark Patton's Reviews > Pilgrimage
Set in 12th Century Flanders, France and Spain, this is one of those historical novels in which historical fact and fictional narrative are so successfully woven together that readers may have to research the topics for themselves if they wish to know where the history ends and the fiction begins. The author is an academic historian herself, and she has drawn extensively on a genuine 12th Century manuscript, the Codex Calixtinus (a collection of sermons, hymns, liturgical texts and reports of miracles, all associated with the cult of St James, together with a travellers’ guide to the pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostella). The protagonist, Gebirga of Flanders, a young blind noblewoman, makes the pilgrimage itself, with assistance from the codex’s author, Aimeric Picaut, but, in the process, is drawn into a vividly portrayed world of intrigue between bishops, kings and princes, for which nothing has prepared her. There is lots of carefully researched historical detail here, but the book manages, nonetheless, to be a true page-turner.
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