I've always been a James Patterson fan so likely you'll see a lot of his books up for review on this site as it grows. I like to have a book on CD so I can make my commute to & from work more interesting. Plus whenever I'm stuck in traffic (aka Michigan construction) I get a few more chapters in. I saw this book at the library and checked it out for the month - I was surprised to read that it takes place in 1096, not his usual setting for books.
We're introduced to the star of the show, Hugh de Luc, a red-haired inn keeper who lives with his wife, Sophie. Hugh has been in love with Sophie since he first laid eyes on her when they were children and they have been happily married for 3 years now. They struggled to have children but remain happy non the less, until Hugh hears of the Crusades and their march towards Jerusalem. He longs to be free from the ruling of the Duke of Treille and knows he can earn that freedom if he is successful in this march.
Leaving Sophie behind with the promise to return he ventures off into his journey, meeting friends along the way, learning how to fight and managing to escape death many times over. After witness the death of a man who chose not to kill Hugh, he decides this isn't for him, he misses Sophie and his freedom isn't worth the slaughtering that is taking place on their missions. So he turns tail and starts back home bringing along a perfume box for Sophie, a ruby studded cross, and a heavy staff he uses for walking.
Hugh finally returns home dreaming of seeing Sophie again for the first time only to be greeted by a town rebuilding, his inn burned to the ground and news that his son he never met had been killed and his wife missing, presumed dead. In a fit of rage he makes his way to Treille positive it is the Duke's men who caused this and is out for revenge and in search for Sophie.
Along the way he runs into a wild boar which leaves him worse for the wear and is discovered by a noble, Emilie, who brings Hugh back with her to the castle where the royal doctor nurses him back to health. Hugh confesses his reasons for being in the woods and what he plans to do. With Emilie's help they come up with a pretext in order to enable Hugh to access the Duke's court, a jester.
So begins the true journey of Hugh as he searches for his lost wife and revenge for his slain son. Little does Hugh know what lies ahead of him and what he possesses, an Holy relic that men are willing to kill & die for.
I grabbed this book off the shelf because it was by James Patterson first & foremost. When I started on the story I was surprised and a little hesitant to continue onward once I found out what time it was set in. I've never been a huge fan of historical novels but I am glad I gave it a chance. Mr. Patterson with the help of Andrew Gross really draw you into this setting and allow you to immerse yourself into the story. You hear the anger in Hugh's voice, you smell the fowl stench of the jail cells, you taste the food being served in the great halls, you can feel the silks the nobles wear.
I found myself rooting for Hugh, gasping when a sword clashed against another sword and feeling a mix of emotions when Hugh discovers Sophie. I found his character to be a true hero, a leader and someone people of today would follow. Hugh stands for justice and freedom and what is right. This book may look long but you quickly realize it ends all too soon when you reach the end. I would recommend this book to any James Patterson fan or any fiction reader who enjoys a historical novel, the research they've done for this book really help enforce the story line.