From My Bookshelf – Jane Johnson

By Lynn Willoughby

Pillars of Light – Jane Johnson

pillars-of-light-jane-johnsonThis novel is the story of Richard the Lionheart and his drive to untie the leader’s of the “Latin Kingdom”. He plans to take back the city of Akka from the infidel Muslims and it all hits very close to home.
It begins in 1189. The Middle East location of Syria is where the siege takes place. Because this location is also in every newscast today it make me wonder if we have learned anything in the last thousand plus years.
For history buffs, this book is sensory, intimate and shocking. I learned more than I needed to know about the smells in the Christian camp during the long siege, which lasted over two years. You can use your imagination regarding the odors from  sweaty, blood-soaked soldiers, their horses, their supperating wounds, rampant dysentery and decomposing dead bodies  AND, they had very little water! Ugh!
The Muslims inside the walls also suffered from injuries, death and starvation but seemed to handle it better. However, the author does note the disappearance of cats, pigeons and other pets. War is not for the faint of heart.
What I especially liked was getting to know a little more about Salad-a-din, his strategy for war, his support from as far away as Cairo, Jerusalem and Constantinople, his strict regimen of cleanliness and the forgiveness and honour he showed his enemies. The historical detail is woven through the stories of a family in Acre Syria and the band of English “con” men dealing in “holy relics”.
“The lasting legacy of all this blood, death, hope and passion as two faiths and many sub-cultures grind against each other is rather wonderfully crystalised into the union of architectures….”If you have traveled to countries like Turkey you will see this today – mosques that became cathedrals that became mosques. And surely cathedrals like those in England at Salisbury and Wells show the influence of the who were Arals, French, Spanish, Muslims and Jews. The flying buttress and ribbed vaults, columns and painted arches “are stolen straight from the heart of Islam.”
The real thread throughout this book is not romance or war or religion. It is that people everywhere have more similarities than differences.
  • The Tenth Gift
  • The Salt Road
…………..and several others.
Lynn Willoughby
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