October 26, 2011

The Silk Road by Colin Falconer


A breath-taking adventure on an epic scale.

Back Cover Blurb

1260 AD: Josseran Sarrazini is a man divided in his soul. A Christian Knight Templar haunted by a shameful past, he hopes to find redemption in a dangerous crusade: a journey from Palestine to Xanadu, to form a crucial allegiance against the Saracens at the legendary court of Kubilai Khan – the seat of the Mongol Empire.

Instead he finds the solace he seeks in a warrior-princess from a heathen tribe. Beautiful and ferocious, Khutelun is a Tartar, a nomadic rider of the Mongolian steppe. Although their union is utterly impossible, she will find in Josseran what she cannot find in one of her own.

Parched by desert winds, pursued by Saracen hordes, and now tormented by a passion he cannot control, Josseran must abandon Khutelun if he is to complete his journey and save his soul. Worse, he must travel with William, a Dominican friar of fearsome zeal who longs for matyrdom, but whose life Josseran is sworn to protect. And worse yet, he will arrive in Xanadu just as the greatest empire in human history plunges into civil war.

Winding through the plains of Palestine and over the high mountains of the Hindu Kush, from the empty wastes of the Taklimakan desert to the golden palaces of China, Silk Road weaves a spellbinding story of sin, desire, conflict and human frailty onto the vast tapestry of the medieval orient.

REVIEW

For those readers who love history and immersing themselves into an accurately written novel of a long ago era, The Silk Road by Colin Falconer is sure to please. In this epic tale, Colin Falconer brings to life the Crusades of the 13th century with both realism and impact. A map at the front of the novel shows the ancient route of the Silk Road.

The story opens in the year A.D.1260 in the Mongolian empire. Three main characters dominate the tale. Khutelun is the wilful, intelligent, and free-spirited daughter of Qaidu, the Khan of the Tartars. Josseran Sarrazini, a coarse Templar knight with a dark and secret past who has been assigned the onerous task of negotiating a union with the Tatars against the Saracens. And lastly there is William, a fanatical, self-righteous Dominican friar excessively obsessed with converting the pagans to Christianity even if it costs him his life, and even if it puts Josseran, who is tasked with protecting him, into the path of danger.  

Each of the three characters come together to colour each page with their vibrant, but very believable personalities. Falconer writes with vivid detail, never holding back when depicting the brutal realities of the era while also creating scenes that bring humour and light into the story. Callous executions, one-eyed camel drivers, corruption, sin, a heart-wrenching love story, dark secrets, and life and death circumstances are revealed at a fast pace in each brief chapter. The plot is rich and complicated and sure to keep the reader focused on turning the page to learn what happens next – and always to some shocking circumstance or pleasant surprise. That’s what I loved most about this book – plenty of the odd and unusual to keep me fascinated throughout.

It is the richness of the prose itself that truly made this historical era come alive. Stocked with exquisite details, each chapter paints a mural for the senses, describing in detail articles, scenery, characters, and architecture so that one truly feels as if they are experiencing the story instead of merely reading it. Clashes, politics, characters ever at odds with each other, good and evil, love and hate, sin and goodness, and much, much more all culminate into a very satisfying ending. A profound story of great depth that will please both genders and one I strongly recommend. Utterly absorbing and captivating!
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