56. 'Outremer' by D. N. Carter

Sunday 14 May 2017

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.

The first of a four-part series, Outremer is an historical epic, which sweeps across England, Scotland and France, to Syria, Jerusalem and Egypt. Discover the truth — and crack the ancient code — behind the great mysteries of the High Middle Ages for yourself.

Now onto my thoughts...
Outremer is book 1 out of 4. When starting the book, you are given a breakdown of character names and some imagery, I imagine to help you visualise the characters, something that I have never come across in a book before. There is also a vast breakdown of the contents page, which is useful when going back to re-read passages - and it must be noted that there are a lot of main characters to remember and visualise, which also slowed my reading time. 

From the outset I want to make it clear that I have not finished Outremer - I did not give myself enough time prior to sitting down to write and post this review, an error of mine, but I did not expect the book to be so dense! (As a side note, I am in the midst of an extremely stressful time in my professional life outside of book blogging which has also cut into the time I have had to read). The sheer size of this book should have been a pre-warning to me!

Carter has taken a great amount of care with creating and presenting the world in which the characters inhabit. When I say, it is vast I don’t do so lightly - Holy Grail quests, secret sects, Knight Templars, a love story complicated by culture and opposing religions in a time when the two simply did not meet in matrimony. Definitely one for those who are captivated by the stories of Dan Brown et al, and anyone interested in The Knights Templar's and the secretive world and codes they lived by. 

There is such a care to research and attention to detail that was pleasantly surprising. Carter is to be applauded for teaching his audience about symbology - no easy feat I am sure while keeping the reader interested! As a stickler for historical fact within historical fiction I am also pleased to see that he hasn't strayed too far off the beaten track in terms of what is known about The Crusades, or what would be credible (Philippa Gregory/The White Queen I am looking at you!). I feel that is something that will keep readers invested in this book series as I know the moment I feel something has strayed too far off the garden path of credibility I will lose interest extremely quickly.

The book is very 'meaty', dense, and is certainly one I look forward to continuing while giving it more time to read further. I can tell that this is a labour of love by D. N. Carter, and that makes it a joy to read. Don't be intimidated by the size of the book at all, it is well worth losing yourself in it. 

My rating so far would be a strong 3.5/5 - mainly because I have not finished it as of yet but it is looking promising to move up to a 4.5 as I continue!

About the 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.

Purchase Outremer here

Thank you to Rachel from Authoright for generously sending me a copy to review!
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