Book Reviews

Outremer Blog Tour

Welcome, today is my stop on the Outremer Blog Book Tour. I am so happy to be able to give you this review today as Outremer was a magical ride. Let me give you a summary to get you started!

Summary

Who Controls The Past Controls The Future

 An epic love story must overcome religious divide and a plot to eradicate two blood lines, as the Crusades and the search for the ancient mysteries of the Holy Grail gather momentum.

Raised by his father in La Rochelle, France, Paul Plantavalu is known for his artistic nature, inquisitive mind and Christian faith. He also has an unshakable love for his Muslim childhood friend, Alisha al Komaty. Courageous and outspoken, she returns Paul’s love. But their path is paved with obstacles; religion, war, political chaos and a mysterious enemy determined to destroy their family lines.

Sometime between 1110 AD and 1120 AD in the aftermath of the first crusade, a small band of nine knights — the founding knights Templar — recover ancient precious artefacts left by a former, advanced civilisation, beneath the City of Jerusalem. Ruthlessly guarded, the secrets revealed by this discovery are highly prized by powerful and dangerous forces far and wide; the repercussions of their capture are inextricably linked to Paul and Alisha. As Paul starts to experience dark and vivid dreams and the fragile balance of peace starts to crumble, it will fall to an enigmatic man known as Kratos and his female warrior protégée Abi Shadana, to safeguard Paul and Alisha.

Paul and Alisha’s love story weaves between the threads of our reality and other realms — from the Druids to the Sufi mystics, the Magi of the East, the secret political arm of the Knights Templar and the Isma’ilis, the Assassins. Knights and pilgrims alike will witness some of the darkest battles ever fought. The discovery of a unique sword’s lethal power and whispered connections to King Arthur and the Holy Grail lead Paul and Alisha to question if their lives ever be the same again.

Review

It is so difficult to review this book because of its depth and detail. The main plot of Paul and Alisha is compelling, a narrative of a young couple in love who face unimaginable odds and must learn many secrets about themselves. Their families and roles are involved in an elaborate history, one that will decide the fate of the future. The ‘smaller’ plot, one of love and families, is balanced with this all encompassing plot of the Grail and also religion/history in and of itself. Through the plots we are able to see the features of humanity: their ability for love and compassion, as well as their fierce ownership, greed, and tendency to categorize people into us versus them.

However, Outremer is much more than a story. It is a deep dive into religion based on research and intense care. These passages are fascinating and awesome (inspiring awe) as the mysteries are unraveled before us. You’ll get to know about symbology, the origin of words, and history. I cannot stress enough the details of this book and you’ll find yourself wanting to read passages over and over again to figure out the mystery for yourself. In this way, it sort of gives off an Angel and Demons kind of vibe. At times it can feel heavy, but given the scope and immense amount of history/lore it is an amazing feat and this is reflected in its page count! The descriptions of the setting as well as the people are extremely vivid. Because of this, you get a cinematic feel making you feel like you are in a movie. It is as if history is coming to life and is a learning experience for us and those in the story.

Speaking of that, the frame narrative is not only helpful, but also entertaining. We are told Paul and Alisha’s story from a mysterious old man in a tavern one night. We are enfolded in their late night story telling session and many of their questions are our own. Right in the heart of the story, we are treated like one of them and learn while sitting next to them. This technique keeps you hanging and allows a double or even triple learning effect: first Paul and Alisha about their families, then us learning about their story and the history. At the same time, we creep ever closer to the ‘present’ and with the use of the old man’s documents the time periods are woven together. It is almost as if we are in a grand murder mystery, presented with the evidence, and allowed to hazard our own guess.

You will make new friends, laugh and possibly cry as this story becomes a part of you. And when you have finished and close the cover on the last page, then the world that was within it will forever be within you.

All in all, this book demands time and patience. But if you have both of these, you will be rewarded with a unique reading experience that bridges the gap between textbook and story (because aren’t both of those stories of different kinds?). The author’s notes and all that precede the story are elaborately written and it is clear the care that Carter put into this story.  If you love history books and want to cozy up to a fire being completely immersed in a story, this is for you. If you love complex plots and have dreamed of finding the holy grail, this is for you. And if you just want a story that will weave history together, make you more intelligent, and entertain you, this is also for you.

You can add this to Goodreads and purchase your copy at Amazon (UK) and Amazon (US).

Extract

I was also able to request an excerpt of story for you to get a taste of what you’re in for. This is just a peek of what you will find within these pages.

The old man in the Inn allows Simon, the fishmonger to pick up the sword. It is the first demonstration of the swords apparent power and affect upon a person as the Old man details.

Pray tell me more of Frejus for this is all new to hear.” Peter the Stonemason asked.

    “Briefly…there is indeed a sacred Baptistery. Though there are those who wish to cover and seal it from all.”

    “Why?” Simon instantly asked.

    “Why indeed? Perhaps the easiest way to explain it is to say that the energy lines are reinvigorated and kept active by running water. And like the blood that runs through our very veins, if we remove a slight amount, it has no adverse effect upon us. If the bleed is not controlled, we become weak. But we can recover and make new blood…this much we do know. But if we constantly take of that blood, our bodies cannot keep up replacing it and we die. Our Mother Earth is just the same. If we keep taking of it, then just like the allegorical symbolism within all the Holy Grail romances presently being told about King Arthur and his connection to the land, when he grows weak, so does the land and vice versa.”

    “I am not aware of these Grail Romances. Can you tell us?” the Genoese sailor asked.

     “I will indeed cover it as it becomes an important part of this story, “the old man replied and looked at the sword.

    “Ah let me guess…next you will be telling us that the sword there is the mythical Excalibur,” Simon said sarcastically.

    The old man looked up slowly and stared at him as the Templar shook his head disapprovingly towards him.

    “Peter, do you not know that all myths and legends have their origins based upon fact and real events?” the old man asked patiently. “As for this sword… well I shall simply tell you that it is far more valuable than any mythical sword you may have heard of. Here,” the old man continued and lifted the sword up, looked at the blade and turned it into the light. “Catch,” he said loudly and threw it vertically across the table at Simon. Both the Templar and Hospitaller moved sideways instinctively as Miriam closed her eyes. Gabirol looked on surprised as the sword part spun vertically pointing upwards towards Simon.

    Simon raised his arm up protectively and just managed to catch the handle. He clasped his hand around it tightly and smiled broadly proud of himself for catching it. He pushed himself backwards in his chair as he studied the blade. Suddenly his face started to grimace in pain. He looked at the old man alarmed. He tried to let go of the handle as pain began to race through his fingers. He placed his left hand on the handle and it too started to hurt. Sweat started beading from his forehead in rivulets and he started to shake as he struggled to keep the sword pointing upright. The Templar stood up and pulled Miriam up from her seat and pushed her behind him concerned as the Hospitaller just sat and watched perplexed.

    “Please…please do something…stop it,” Simon pleaded his face twisting in more pain. “It won’t let me go!”

    “Stephan!” Sarah said getting worried.

    Stephan stood up and moved to stand beside Simon as he shook in his chair as all looked on concerned.

    “Simon…listen to me. Just relax…stop fighting it and just breathe slowly,” he explained and placed his hand upon his shoulder reassuringly and knelt beside him. Hesitantly Simon nodded and tried to control his breathing as the wealthy Tailor and Gabirol shot their looks between him and the old man. The sword stopped shaking and began to steady. Simon’s arms stopped shaking and he let out a slight nervous laugh. After a few moments Simon was calm and still as he held the sword with both hands. His eyes were wide and he smiled nervously and looked at everyone around the room. “See… just stay calm and relaxed. It took a while to lock into your energy that is all. Did the same to me the first time,” Stephan smiled.

    “What…since when have you done this?” Sarah demanded surprised.

    “Oh at least two years past,” Stephan answered and looked at the old man who nodded in agreement.

    “This is incredible…is it magic?” Simon asked transfixed upon the blade smiling broadly. “I can feel it like it has a pulse that runs through me,” he explained excitedly and laughed again looking at everyone around the room.            

1 – 46

    “’Tis not magic. That pulse is your pulse. That is you. That is why it hurt when first you held it. Do not quiz me how it works, just accept that it does,” the old man explained.

    “Sarah. Simon here cannot be all bad for if he was, he would be on his back now unconscious,” Stephan remarked. Simon shot a look at him puzzled.

    Simon started to well up with tears and became visibly emotional rapidly. Stephan put both his hands upon his shoulders. Simon pulled the blade nearer as tears began to fall from his eyes uncontrollably. He kissed the blade and placed it against his forehead, his eyes shut tight as he sobbed. Stephan looked at the old man.

    “Forgot to mention that bit comes next,” Stephan smiled.

    All observed Simon as he cried unashamedly and openly in front of them for several minutes before finally getting himself under control. Sniffing, he opened his eyes, gently took his left hand off of the sword and wiped his nose and eyes with his sleeve. He looked around the room at everyone looking at him and laughed emotionally. He proffered the sword to the Templar.

    “No…You are okay. ‘Tis not that I am bad but I will not allow myself to reveal my emotions just yet,” he replied as Miriam clasped his hand beside him.

    Simon looked around the room. No one wanted to take the sword so he gently placed it back down upon the table delicately. Simon smiled and relaxed back into his chair shaking his head still amazed.

    “I feel amazing,” he laughed.

    “Can I ask, if this sword is the same as the one Philip gave Paul, then how come Paul did not experience what just happened to Simon?” Gabirol asked.

    “Good question. In short, Philips link, his bond if you will with sword had already been established. The only way I can explain it, is that each of us gives off our own energy in waves…like water. If you gently splash a pale of water, the waves are small and gentle. Thrash the water vigorously and hard, the waves are bigger, faster and harder. The sword somehow adjusts to the size of those waves each person gives off. Too much of a difference and it can initially hurt, but then it adjusts you, not itself, to the same wave size. The result of which you just saw Simon experience. As Paul was young, almost innocent in many ways, and being of the same blood as his father, his father’s waves were almost identical to his so the adjustment was not even noticed. But in time, Paul would find another aspect of the sword that could prove devastating if misused,” the old man explained as Simon just sat smiling.

    “Are you certain this is not the devils work?” the wealthy tailor asked hesitantly.

    “What if I told you that the force that God and the Devil use is in fact but one and the same force?” the old man answered. 

    “Hmmm. This all reminds me very much of the statement in the New Testament whereby Jesus explains that he brings a two edged sword with which to fight for peace and justice,” Gabirol commented as he checked his notes.

    “Gabirol, for your records, and as I explained earlier, you may wish to note then that the two edged long sword when written in Greek and converted to mathematical numbers in Gematria equals 755, just as Excalibur does likewise, more of which I shall reveal if you are all able to remain longer,” the old man explained.

    “Too right we are,” the Templar replied and ushered for Miriam to retake her seat.

    “I am beginning to see you in a different light,” Sarah said to Stephan as everyone began to sit themselves down again and get comfortable Simon still smiling broadly and staring at the sword.

    “I can tell you, that the affects of the sword are not simply self induced. But Like when some people touch and feel a holy relic, it is their belief that influences them. Some can pick up a Bible and feel nothing whilst others can just touch a Bible and they can feel it, in a real tangible sensation. The sword acts very much like that. It is why some people can hold it and truly feel nothing at all. Now if no else wishes to hold the sword at this moment, shall I continue?” the old man asked.

Author

After strange and vivid experiences whilst living in Cyprus as a child, author D N Carter has been fascinated by the history, myths and legends of the Middle Ages and mankind’s past. As he got older travels to Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, the Languedoc region of France and the deserts of Arabia fuelled his enthusiasm. While not decoding maps and mathematical codes D N Carter enjoys adventure sports from parachuting to microlight flying. Today he divides his time between East Anglia in the UK and the south of France with his family.

Discussion

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