Written by Christopher Bland
Review by G. J. Berger

François de Beaufort is a knight in the Languedoc region of southern France at the end of the 13th century. When readers first meet him, he has lost an eye and an arm, and has a huge scar across his back that he’s never seen.

François, his family, and most around him are Cathars—believers in a different god, different church rulers, and different religious doctrines than the dominant Roman Catholics. The Catholic powers fear and hate all Cathars and, using mainly unemployed crusaders and other ruffians, are well on the way to the destruction of everything Cathar: its land, its animals, and its people.

Bland tells the cruel history through first-person accounts by François, as well as courageous women around him, evil Inquisitors, Catholic clergy, and local rulers. Fear is constant, brutality plays out at every turn, and treachery and betrayal come from seemingly the most devout.

Bland’s account remains true to the actual settings, battles, and historical leaders of the Catholic Church’s merciless and successful genocidal mission. The story leaves lasting impressions about the evils of man against his fellow man which are justified by religion. Through it all, the cleverness, faith and deep humanity of his characters, their spirit to survive in this world or in the next, and their capacity to suffer, but then move on, all shine in the darkest times. Cathar is a fast-moving, well-told, and honest novel, though it’s not for the faint of heart.