Deus Lo Volt!: Chronicle of the Crusades

Evan S. Connell, Author Counterpoint LLC $28 (462p) ISBN 978-1-58243-065-2
Arraying himself wholly in a medieval mindset for this difficult, ungainly but rewarding novel, Connell writes a massive, determinedly archaic history of the crusades from the point of view of a French knight. Jean Joinville, a participant in the disastrous second crusade under Louis IX, begins his chronicle with the first crusade, in 1095, and ends with the taking of Acre in 1290 by the forces of Ashraf Khalil, which effectively ended the mad attempt to make Palestine a Christian protectorate. In assuming Joinville's persona, Connell embraces both the man's style and his conceptual limits, giving the reader no handhold in the form of an introduction or explanatory notes. As presented by Connell, the medieval mind is a promiscuous mix of piety and brutality. By the knight's account, the first crusade--which prompts pogroms against Jews in Germany, involves intricate treachery among the Christian hosts in Asia Minor and culminates in the horrific sack of Jerusalem--is taken to express God's miraculous design. The second crusade pits Saladin against Richard the Lionhearted. Joinville's depiction of the English king captures his inconsistent character, while Saladin evokes some rare passages of nonpartisan admiration. The book ends with Joinville's account of captivity at the hands of infidels in Egypt, of being ransomed with Louis IX and of Louis's homecoming. Connell's antiquarian ""forgery,"" which is in the line of novels like Yourcenar's Memoirs of Hadrian, is a great feat of historic empathy. Or to quote Joinville: ""What adventures they recounted left us agape as if we heard some ancient epic, or looked upon some tapestry of days half remembered."" (May)
Reviewed on: 05/01/2000
Release date: 05/01/2000
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 480 pages - 978-1-58243-140-6
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-56511-596-5
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-55935-335-9
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