|Behold The Dawn|
by K.M. Weiland
$6.99 Kindle version
Wounded in battle and hunted on every side, he agrees to marry—in name only—the traumatized widow of an old friend, in order to protect her from the obsessive pursuit of a mutual enemy. Together, they escape an infidel prison camp and flee the Holy Land. But, try as he might, he cannot elude the past—or his growing feelings for the Lady Mairead. 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."
This is historical fiction that takes place during the Crusades, set in "the Holy Land" in 1192, blending fact and fiction with detailed descriptions. The story begins in Bari, Italy, from the point of view of a Scottish tourneyer named Marcus Annan. His traveling companion, Peregrine Marek, is indentured to him after Annan saved his life in Glasgow, and Marek believes Annan would be better off seeking absolution in the Third Crusade.
After a tournament, Annan is approached by a monk known as The Baptist. This monk tells the tourneyer he must bring the man called Matthias of Claidmore to the Holy Land to confront Bishop Roderic about the crimes committed at St. Dunstan's Abbey, sixteen years ago. Annan informs The Baptist that Matthias is dead; the monk suggests that the Earl of Keaton may also have knowledge of Roderic's unholy transgressions which puts him in danger of the Bishop.
Annan reluctantly makes the pilgrimage, but refuses to seek absolution by taking the oath of a Crusader, despite Marek's insistence to ask God's forgiveness. When Annan does find the Earl, he is asked to protect the Earl's wife, Mairead, from the Norman knight, Hugh de Guerrant, who is one of the Bishop Roderic's corrupt knights. It soon becomes apparent that Countess of Keaton's enemies are also Annan's. With the help of Marek, the tourneyer attempts to take Mairead to safety before the Bishop has all of them killed.
Weiland uses the flowery language of historical adventure, and the thoughts of multiple characters, to underscore the Christian themes of that period in history. It is a tale of betrayal and redemption that ascends time and location while remaining anchored against the backdrop of the Crusades. Weiland also includes a glossary of words that are unfamiliar in modern times.
K.M. Weiland does such compelling work of presenting a conflicted male character that many readers fail to realize she is a female writer. An old, but good story.