Thursday, September 22, 2016

Promise of the Black Monks by Robert E. Hirsch

When I'm reading, there are some things that really turn me off.  I'm not a big fan of war, politics, religion or history.  This book is about the time period leaning up to The Crusades.  When I was approached with the standard review deal (free book in exchange for an honest review), why on earth did I accept?  I have no idea, but if you figure me out, please let me know!  I can always use more insight!

With this book being over 500 pages long and about all of my unfavorite things, I thought for sure it was going to be a painful read.  I was expecting to have to force myself through it and then write a review based upon its merits and whether or not someone who does enjoy these things would enjoy the book.

I love when I'm pleasantly surprised!  I devoured this book!  Sure it's full of all those other things.  It's written during a time period of great upheaval.  There are battles and the amount of religious politics are insane!  But you know what I found out?  I adore Robert Hirsch.  Sir, if you're ever in my area of the world, please hit me up and I'll take you out for lunch.

We start off with this amazing character, Peter the Hermit.  He's dirty and loud and opinionated and he doesn't care who he upsets.  He has a direct line to God and it's his job to set things right on earth.  Right out of the gate we fall in love with a character.  I love Peter!  Every scene with him in it captivated my heart!  Is he based on a real person?  Don't know.  Don't care.  Love him!

So what Hirsch has done here, is take a mostly dull period in time (to me, one who doesn't enjoy this sort of thing)  and spin it from a character study point of view.  Our main character is Tristan de Saint Germain, who is just a young boy when we first meet him.  By the end of the book, he's reached the age of eighteen.  We get to see the world through his eyes, as well as the eyes of his mother and a few other characters in the book.  It really brought everything to life by writing it this way.  We don't have boring facts and figures and statistics and dates.  We have very real people who are living in a terrifying time.

Because I couldn't stop reading, I took this book with me to pick up my son from school.  Some days are rougher for him than others, so I always show up early just in case there are issues.  Yesterday, I was sitting in the parking lot reading, awaiting the correct time to go in.  The most horrendous thing happened in the book!  I felt my jaw drop and heard a horrible squeaky voice scream 'NOOOO!"  (I've been sick, not my fault) and then I realized it was me.  Looking up, I saw that the lady next to me was staring at me with her eyebrows raised.  I simply smiled and held the book up.  Now, if that isn't a sales pitch for a book, I don't know what is!

By taking a different route, Hirsch was able to take subjects that normally put me to sleep and make them into something that mesmerized me.  If you're into this sort of thing, it's a must read.  However, even if you aren't, I can't imagine not loving this book.  I've already ordered the next in the series, Hammer of God, and according to my research, there will be three more books in the series.  I will own each and every one and Hirsch is finding a spot on our library bookshelves.

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