Cluny Cross, a novel by archaeologist Mark Blackham, begins in 1089 and recounts the story of Ramiro of Léon, a Benedictine monk from the Abbey of Cluny in France, who finds himself swept up in the political intrigues of Pope Urban II. Hailed as a mission to save Christendom from a Muslim conquest, Ramiro is sent on a clandestine assignment to Jerusalem where he is ordered to deliver a mysterious cross to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. But along the way, his mission is jeopardized by emperors and sultans, assassins and mystics, slave-traders and savages – and by a carpenter’s daughter who haunts his dreams.
Adele, a feisty Norman girl, catches his eye early on, leaving him to struggle in spirit with his vows of obedience and chastity. He tries desperately to put her out of his mind, but he has no idea how much she will change his life in the years to come.
Ramiro begins his journey to Jerusalem ten years before the First Crusade. But along the way, his mission is thwarted by the Byzantine Emperor and, when he tries to escape, by Turk slavers who take him deep into ancient Persia and the Turk Empire.
Hunted down by a Turk warrior, Ramiro rushes into Jerusalem just before the the city’s bloody fall to French invaders in 1099. And after the conquest, he discovers that his cross has an entirely unexpected meaning to the knights of Europe – one that could cost him his life.
“My tale was inspired by my own journeys to the Middle East,” says Blackham. “The region has a long and turbulent history of foreign invaders, and I want to give the reader a different view. I want them to see these 11th century invasions from the ‘other’ side – from the point of view of Byzantines, Arabs, and Turks.”
About the Author: Mark Blackham has a keen interest in the affairs of the Middle East and has conducted research in Syria, Jordan and Israel. In 1999, he earned a graduate degree in archaeology and anthropology from the University of Toronto and continues to delve deeply into the past, fascinated by the parallels that exist between contemporary events and the stories of ancient history. Click here to visit the author’s website.
Cluny Cross – A Mad Medieval Tale is available in both print and digital formats (Kindle and Adobe) from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-on-Board, and participating bookstores. Paper (ISBN 9780987787804). Digital (ISBN 9780987787811). 508 pp.
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