Saint Michael’s Sword: Tip of the Blade
Saint Michael’s Sword: Tip of the Blade by Cris Harding is set in 9th-century France during an era undergoing tumultuous change with the decline of Charlemagne’s empire and the upheaval of Viking invasions. The tale begins when Brother Anatole listens to the confession of Madelyn, an insane woman haunted with images of Satan fighting for her soul. To heal and find grace with God, she must unburden herself of the past. A quote that best describes Madelyn’s story is: “Destiny is a river we voyage. Once choices are made, our fortunes depend on the ability to survive dangerous waters and which fork we follow when the river divides.” Madelyn’s confession begins with the family history of her Christian father and druidic mother, who fall madly in love with each other and marry. We follow Madelyn from childhood to coming of age when she wrestles with her romantic feelings for an orphan raised by the Friars, whom she promises to wed. However, her destiny takes a fork when she is forced to marry an older man, and she faces the terror of Viking plundering.
Cris Harding’s narrative style is poetic, like a bard retelling a tragic story from the Middle Ages. Although the book cover depicts a whimsical childhood tale, the elements of the story are darker with adult themes. The strife caused by the different religious beliefs and rituals between the pagans and Christians are explored through Madelyn’s experiences.
Historical fiction readers interested in the conflicting cultures and tragic tales from the medieval period will find this novel fascinating and unique.