Reviews: Song At Dawn


I would call it a 'historical intrigue romance' because that is the order of their importance in the story. When I read the description I was afraid the romance would outweigh the other two but this fear was groundless. There is more than enough history and intrigue to balance it out and a strong enough plot to keep it relevant and no more.

I am a history buff and I believe that is why Miss Gill asked me to review the book in the first place. "Song at Dawn" begins in the 12th century, shortly after the Second Crusade, and the bulk of the action is in and around the city of Narbonne, Southern France. I took a college class on the Crusades and read about Eleanor (Alienor) of Aquitaine and Bernard de Clairvaux and the disaster they called a crusade and it was fascinating to compare what I remember with what is in the book. Miss. Gill has done her homework in that regard. More interesting still, my class didn't have the time to address indirect results of the crusade, such as a disruption in trade for the French city because Moorish ports have taken a disliking to Christians. Also contemporary ideas of medicine such as 'red meat to restore colour and garlic to fight demons'. The later of course isn't true but for the time period it was believed to be. These touches add a context to the setting so that it is more than a exotic location for courting.

Normally, I have no stomach for romance in literature because I am wary of the 'wild, teenager passion' that ruined the first book I reviewed. Instead this is Courtly Love which I find more palatable. Indeed the oaths of love mix with and contrasted oaths of fealty in delightful ways between ladies and their knights. For those hoping for something more 'physically intimate' that's present too but in much smaller amounts.

The plot was terrific. It starts off with the protagonist laying in a ditch and cutting herself off from her past to the point of abandoning her birth name; a intriguing start. From there the central plot thread is built and more wrap around it to strength it instead of distract. There are plenty of twists. I won't say what, of course, but they are evenly spaced up to the end. Also humor; there is a lot of humor in between the I Did What I Had To Do moments. My personal favorite takes place during a singing competition early on.