The Way of Glory
The novel begins in Bristol, England, in 1154. A Civil war known as the Anarchy drags on. It is a wholly Christian conflict, unlike the war which rages in the Holy Land between Christians and Muslims. The novel is largely told through the eyes of fourteen-year-old Cate, who longs to see Jerusalem for herself. When her two brothers, Sperleng, a soldier, and Williard, a priest, decide to join the Second Crusade, she pleads to be allowed to accompany them. But when their ship lands in Portugal to re-supply, she is bitterly disappointed to learn the English army has agreed to stay and support the Portuguese Christians in their struggle to drive the Moors from Lisbon.
The Way of Glory is a well-written, well-researched novel, and an intriguing read on several levels. Notably, the male-dominated, brutal and bloody world of the 12th century Crusades is portrayed through the eyes of a female protagonist. Cate is an engaging character, true to the period with her deep religious devotion. She begins the novel naive and unworldly but, having tended the wounded and dying during the siege of Lisbon, she quickly discovers the stark realities of war. Many in the English army are fighting simply for riches and wealth and show a total disregard for the suffering of the ‘godless’ Moors, but Cate comes to pity the Muslim men, women and children being slaughtered in the name of God.
I have to admit to initially sharing Cate’s disappointment that she would not reach the Holy Land but applaud the author’s decision to explore the less trodden path of the Hispanic Crusades. An intelligent and thought-provoking novel.