The Sword of the Maiden
Kathleen C. Perrin
at Langon House
Dec 3, 2015
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MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK
Reading outside your comfort zone can be a very rewarding experience. I did it with The Keys of the Watchmen, so I was thrilled to renew the experience with The Sword of the Maiden.
Indeed, I hardly ever read books pertaining to YA, New Adult, romance and time travel. Well, this book has elements from these four categories, and it marvelously worked for me!
Let me tell you right away that if you didn’t read book 1, you will be fine, as the author recapitulates what happened then. But anyway, after reading book 2 you will absolutely want to read book 1 and book 3 (coming up next December), so you might as well read them in order and get a richer experience, as you will see Katie, the main character, evolve and mature.
Katie is back in her modern world, though wounded because of what happened to her when she was sent back to 1424 to help Mont Saint Michel inhabitants resist the English army during the Hundred Years’ War.
She is now almost 18 and eager to go back in time, especially to meet Nicolas. But she can’t, unless she is summoned for a special mission. She receives the summon in a dream, through a mysterious message: “Learn of the Maiden, and take her the sword.”
Through her studies, she discovers the Maiden is none over than Jehanne, that is, Joan of Arc (1412-1431), and that this is about a very important sword in French history.
She prepares for her mission learning more French and French history, but also fencing, wall climbing and anything than can become handy – as well as acquiring some modern gadgets. And she gets better at listening to her intuition!
The chapters alternate between Katie’s, Jehanne’s and Nicolas’ perspective. Katie will indeed be sent to help Jehanne, but will she meet again Nicolas, and their evil adversary, eager to destroy light and goodness? I will let you read the book to find out.
In the process, you will get much more than a great story, which is already fantastic of course!
It is incidentally full of suspense, as each chapter ends at a very important place in the narrative that makes you want to turn the pages faster!
You will at the same time learn a lot about a major page of French history in its difficult years again the English army. The book is very well researched on the period, on the daily life (neat passage in chapter 11), and of course on Joan of Arc.
It may sound weird that a young twenty-first century American girl would go back with her electronic gadget to support a young teen in the 15th century, but believe me, it does work under Perrin’s penmanship!
She takes great pain at not disturbing history. Katie’s mission is not to rewrite history, but to follow it faithfully, to reinforce it, and to be of support to Joan. The novel was actually for me the occasion of reflecting n the concept of history. Can we change history? What would that mean?
The book broadens the perspective of human history by placing it in the context of a wider struggle between darkness and light. Each part opens up with a quotation of the Bible, as well as old French songs of the period, both in French and English translation.
I am eagerly waiting for book 3, especially to finally understand the enigma connected with the 3 central Hebrew letters, as well as the Mont Saint Michel secret.
At the end of the book, the author includes a great explanation on the historical background and the choices she made to write the book. There are also recommendations for your next trip to France, to follow in the footsteps of Joan!
EN DEUX MOTS :
Roman historique très bien fait et plaisant pour vivre une grande page de l’histoire de France, avec la Guerre de Cent ans et Jeanne d’Arc. Peut-on changer l’histoire ?
VERDICT: Powerful and suspenseful historical novel on an essential page of French history. Great mix of information and modern technology at the service of Medieval history. When time travel gets really smart and irresistible!
WHAT IS IT ABOUT
After being abruptly separated from Nicolas le Breton during the battle to save Mont Saint Michel in 1424, Katelyn Michaels finds herself back in her normal twenty-first century life as an American teenager. Depressed and anxious to be reunited with Nicolas, she is comforted when a series of events and impressions lead her to believe she is being prepared for another mission as a Watchman. When her beloved mentor, Jean le Vieux, comes to her in a dream and gives her the injunction to “Learn of the Maiden and take her the sword,” Katelyn understands that her mission involves assisting one of the most iconic figures in all of French History. Katelyn is once again whisked back to the turmoil of medieval France during the Hundred Years’ War and to Nicolas. However, before the two can consider the future of their relationship, they must first complete their mission to take the sword to the Maiden. Little do they know that their old nemesis, Abdon, is already on their trail and will do everything in his unhallowed power to stop them.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kathleen C. Perrin
holds bachelor’s degrees in French and Humanities
from Brigham Young University
and is a certified French translator.
Besides being the author of The Watchmen Saga,
she has published several non-fiction articles, academic papers,
and a religious history about Tahiti.
Kathleen has lived in Utah, New York City, France, and French Polynesia.
She and her French husband have spent years
investigating the mysteries and beauties of his native country
—where they have a cottage—and have taken tourist groups to France.
The Perrins have three children and currently reside in Utah.
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SHOUTING AND THE SOUND OF CLANGING metal woke Jehanne from a deep sleep, but she could not move because Julien was lying on top of her, covering her mouth with his hand.
“Quiet, Jehanne,” Julien whispered in her ear. “Do not get up or utter a word. We are under attack. Take this,” he whispered as he placed a dagger in her right hand, “and use it if you need to. I am going to conceal you under the bedding, and you must not move.”
Jehanne pulled her left hand up to cover her mouth and nose to create a space so she could breathe as Julien piled several blankets over her. He also bunched up some of the blankets on either side of her to camouflage the fact that there was a body under the mound. Then she heard Julien lean over and whisper to her again, “Remain in here, no matter what. Do not come out until we tell you ’tis safe.” She felt, rather than saw, Julien leave the meager protection of their tent.
Outside, she could hear grunts and the sound of metal hitting metal, what she now knew it was the sound of sword clashing against sword. With her heart racing so loudly she feared it would betray her presence, she silently called upon Saint Michael for protection, not only for herself but for her little army of valiant soldiers. Particularly Katelyn. She had come so far after so much tribulation, and she knew she could not have done it without Katelyn’s assistance. Surely, the Archangel would not allow them to be harmed this close to their destination.
After her prayer, she turned her attention to the sounds of the battle outside the tent. She realized she was holding her breath until she could distinguish Katelyn’s voice in the fracas.
“Jean,” she heard Katelyn scream, “behind you!”
Katelyn was alive. Jehanne released her breath and then had to pant to fill her starving lungs with oxygen. It was torture to remain here and not come to the aid of her companions, but she was not foolish enough to think she could really be of any assistance. She was not versed in sword fighting, and she would just become a distraction for her protectors. Even though she would have willingly sacrificed her life to save one of her friends, she also knew she did not have that choice. She had been chosen for a higher purpose, and regardless of her personal feelings, she could not fail God. She had to do everything in her power to fulfill her destiny. When she had done what she was sent to do, God could do with her as He wished. As long as she could assist the Dauphin in his quest to be crowned in Reims, that was all she hoped to achieve. Nothing else mattered.
As a way to cope with the sacrifices being made by her friends to protect her at all costs, Jehanne blocked out the reality of the battle from her senses. She did not listen to Colet de Vienne cursing. She did not hear the recognizable sound of metal on metal changing to a less-recognizable tone when metal hit bone. She did not feel Olg’s great bulk trampling along every edge of the tarp in an attempt to prevent the enemy from diving into the heart of her hiding place. She did not hear the squires Jean or Julien shouting out that the horses had to be protected at all cost, or the sound of branches breaking and the pounding of horses’ hooves. She did not see the sunlight that filtered through the tarp and her wool coverings blocked as Olg’s ever-present hulk dashed in and out of the rays. She did not pick out the sounds of Bertrand or Jean de Metz crashing through the brush in pursuit of their assailants, or the howling of unknown voices, in pain and shock. She did not see Katelyn duck her head into the tent to make certain Jehanne was still there and still safe. She did not even hear Katelyn scream, or feel the thud of a body hitting the ground just a hand span from her feet. She did not smell the coppery odor of blood seeping into the ground all around her.
No, instead, Jehanne focused on her voices. Her voices had guided her and protected her thus far, and she heard them now telling her to have faith and be still. She obeyed the voices. She had faith and was still, but she also found her mind reviewing her short life.
From the time she was a little girl, Jehanne had never aspired to anything greater than being a wife and mother, like her own beloved mother. She had always fully expected to follow in her mother’s footsteps, and consequently, she had carefully learned the skills necessary to be a productive and frugal homemaker. But even at that young age, there was something that was more important to her than thoughts of motherhood. It was her devotion to God. And then the voices had come, and she had cast off all thoughts of her future. Her only motivation was to obey her voices. Did it mean she no longer wanted to be a wife and mother? No. In fact, when Katelyn had spoken of the man she loved, Jehanne had felt a twinge of envy. But she knew that until her mission was complete, she had to remain virginal and pure. This is what God expected of her, and she had submitted her own desires to God’s will. Her future was in God’s hands, and come what may, she would follow the path she had been given.
At that moment, she knew she would survive this ordeal, and others to come. In her mind’s eye, she even saw crowds hailing the new King Charles VII in a magnificent edifice she knew must be Notre-Dame de Reims. She saw herself kneeling at his side. However, as she sought to see beyond that glorious vision, as she struggled to envision babes in her arms, or a husband at her side, she saw only dark prison walls closing in upon her. She heard a harsh, unpleasant voice ordering her over and over and over again to answer his questions, and she felt the heartache of humiliation and scorn, which threatened to eat her from the inside out.
And then, she smelled smoke.
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