War of Gods
War of Gods
The year 1237 was revolutionary in the history of both medieval and modern Europe. It was then that the Teutonic Knights founded the castle-town Elbing at the delta of the wild Vistula River. While crusades in the Holy Land had come to an end, on the border between Christian Poland and pagan Prussia there started a turf war for faith, wealth, fame and survival. The described events would later form the foundation for Europe’s current shape.
The knights of Virgin Mary’s Teutonic Order together with a group of crusaders land at the River Ilfing with a view to settling there, to build their capital city. Meanwhile, two ships carrying settlers arrive from Lubeka. Among those settlers are Odon, a mason, with his family who fled their hometown having got into a pickle. On their journey they have to face spring storms and Pomeranian sea pirates before arriving in relatively safe burgh of Gdańsk. It is already at that point that one of Odon’s twins discovers witchcraft which will turn his life around.
The River Ilfing will offer its settlers astounding wildlife as well as cruel, uncivilised Prussians and ruthless Christian knights. The Odons are shortly befallen by a tragedy – one of the twins gets abducted, the other children die, Christians and pagans cross swords. The book’s main characters go on expeditions against the Prussians – they conquer and defend castles, fight their enemies in foot and cavalry battles, fight off wild animals. At the same time they build their castle and city, experience their joys and tragedies, fall in love and shape their characters.
The book is steeped in historical references to real people, places and events. Descriptions contained therein are based on archaeological studies in an archaeological Eldorado – Elbląg. The fast-flowing narrative and picturesque depictions appeal to the reader in an often humorous way. Descriptions of hunting expeditions and battles are the author’s strong suit as well as easy-to-read medieval-styled language.
The novel ends with biographical notes on its main historical characters, a glossary of medieval terms and also further information on the coins and other methods of payment of the era.
Rebellion of the old gods
The book picks up where “War of Gods” left off. Seven years after arriving in Elbing (in 1244) the State of the Teutonic Order in Prussia faces total defeat despite significant support from crusaders in Europe.
Ruthard, Odon’s son, together with a Teutonic party endeavour the succour of a castle in the south.
His twin brother Linka, a reformed pagan, hunts wisents. He gets abducted by a Lithuanian predatory party heading for the Vistula River. Both brothers find themselves on the opposite sides of a big battle which ends in a massacre of the Christians.
Ruthard, who barely manages to stay alive, together with a Teutonic knight de Berge find themselves in the Castle Culm from where they will travel northbound following the Vistila River to get to the Grand Master and beg him for help. On their journey they get into a pickle and get help from yet another female companion in Ruthard’s life.
Both sides of the conflict brace for war. Link tries to persuade the Prussian leaders to pull together and strike the final blow to pulverise the Christian castles. Guile, fortitude and witchcraft finally begin to change the stubborn and haughty Prussian minds. At last, the great expedition heads out to the west.
Meanwhile in Elbing, an old enemy’s plotting leads to Ruthard being charged with murder and imprisoned. His friend de Berge fights the pagans in the dark corners of Prussian forests, hoping that his experience and bravery will prevent the Order from being defeated again. At the same time the ruler of Pomorze, Prince Świętopełk joins the fight against the Teutonic Knights.
Having escaped captivity and arrived in Gdańsk, Ruthard witnesses an assault on a Teutonic envoy. He also finds out about the incoming ships full of crusaders - the last opportunity to stop the Prussians from eradicating Christianity in Prussia.
Linka and Ruthard, unaware of each other’s position, rush to Elbing where the final battle will take place.
Similarly to the other books written by the author, the novel is steeped in precise historical references to people, places, customs, behaviour, warfare and ceremonies. The narrative is vivid, written in an absorbing, reader-friendly language. The reader will find the flesh and blood characters easy to relate to and empathise with. The book is enriched by a fair dose of humour as well as poignant and moving moments.
The author intends to continue the saga