It’s been a while since I’ve “reviewed” any books on here, mainly because I’ve been so busy that I’m lucky when I have a chance to read … let alone write a review. But this was one book I enjoyed too much not to mention, so I wanted to share it with y’all, my dear readers. It’s a step outside my usual genre, veering off-road onto the historical fiction trail. (Though, I did once have secret dreams of writing epic historical fiction, generally something involving the Old West, cowboys, outlaws, good old fashioned shoot-outs, and six shooters.) Anyway, rabbit trail aside, I’m so thrilled to get to tell you about Behold the Dawn, by K.M. Weiland.
Marcus Annan, a tourneyer famed for his prowess on the battlefield, thought he could keep the secrets of his past buried forever. But when a mysterious crippled monk demands Annan help him find justice for the transgressions of sixteen years ago, Annan is forced to leave the tourneys and join the Third Crusade. Wounded in battle and hunted by enemies on every side, he rescues an English noblewoman from an infidel prison camp and flees to Constantinople. But, try as he might, he cannot elude the past. Amidst the pain and grief of a war he doesn’t even believe in, he is forced at last to face long-hidden secrets and sins and to bare his soul to the mercy of a God he thought he had abandoned years ago.
I don’t entirely know why, but the movie Kingdom of Heaven about the Second Crusade is one of my all time favorites—actually I do know why: epic music, tremendous battle scenes, and one of the best cavalry charges ever filmed! (Please Note: I am not recommending this movie for everyone to watch as it earned its high rating for violence.) Anyway, regardless, because of that as soon as I saw Behold the Dawn and learned the time period and premise, I knew I had to read it! And read it, I did, for hours on end. There may have been a few nights (er, early mornings) where I didn’t set it down until the light on my clock reminded me that t’was already 3:00 AM. K.M. Weiland weaves a memorable tale in a writing style that is exquisite, but not pretentious. The tone and cadence of both narration and dialogue fits the time period without being so archaic as to be unintelligible to the uninitiated. Characters such as Marcus Annan, Lady Mairead, Merak (loveable Merak!), and Gethin were all so unique and interesting that I probably would have read the book had they all been simply vacationing together on the beach. Probably. Thankfully, Weiland didn’t put that to the test. :) Instead, she provided a story full of plot twists, secrets, and enough battles to sate my hunger for adventure. Not only that, but the fighting in the battles was refreshingly realistic – instead of the usual stylized action you find in most fantasy or medieval novels – with believable consequences and injuries that don’t simply disappear on the next page, as well as horses and riding that felt true to life. All in all, Behold the Dawn is an incredible, epic, medieval adventure that I highly recommend for an older audience. It’s one of those books I wish I could read again for the first time, just to enjoy the full experience all over again.