Published 2012, Fireship Press, ISBN-13:978-1-611-227-0, 356 pages

The Cross and the Dragon is a historical fiction novel set commencing in the year 773 during the reign of Charlemagne.

Alda is faced with marriage to a brutal man, Ganelon.  Her brother is conducting negotiations and cannot see the man for what he is.  Ganelon’s servants are half-starved and bruised.  At a feast, Ganelon threatens Alda with violence, claiming his right and duty to beat her even though they are not yet married.

Alda has one way out of the marriage: refuse to consent.   In defiance of her family, she maintains she will never consent to the marriage.  Without her consent, the marriage cannot proceed.  It is one of the few rights women in the 8th century held.

There is one man who captures her attention:  Hroudland, Count of the March of Brittany.  As Charlemagne’s nephew, Hroudland, is expected to marry for political alliance, wealth and vital lands.  A marriage between Hroudland and Alda will not further Charlemagne’s ambitions and she does not consider herself of an elevated station in life to marry into the royal family.  Hroudland’s grandmother already has marriage plans of her own for Hroudland.

Regardless, Hroudland and Alda admit their growing affection for each other.  Alda tells her brother she will only consent to marry only one man, Hroudland.  Faced with no alternative, her brother conducts successful marriage negotiations.

Ganelon is less than pleased and swears to have his revenge.  A blood feud between previous generations of Ganelon’s and Hroudland’s families adds fuel to the fire. 

Charlemagne’s hold on his empire is tenuous and each summer is spent at war subduing rebellions.  While the men are away, the women manage the estates, a challenging prospect during poor harvest years.

All Alda has of her beloved father is a cross and dragon amulet.  She relies upon them for protection.  Prior to Hroudland leaving on his latest war campaign, Alda is haunted by premonitions that all will not go well.  She gives Hroudland her amulet to protect him.

Alda’s intuition proves correct and the Battle of Roncevaux is a devastating rout.  Ganelon quickly seizes this opportunity to exact his revenge, wreaking havoc.

The Cross and The Dragon is a love story, beset by misconceptions, doubts, lies and, ultimately, unfailing commitment.

Rendfeld has written a historical fiction novel that remains authentic to the time period, where religion and vows supersede all else, including love.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Cross and The Dragon.

MY RATING:  4/5 Stars

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