I’ve eagerly awaited the fourth book in the Troubadours series, and it was well worth waiting for. Song Hereafter by award-winning author Jean Gill continues the story of Dragonetz los Pros and Estela de Matin. Capturing the flavor of the twelfth century, politically and culturally, Gill leads the reader along the path of history.
Gill’s ability to breathe life into her characters is stunning. They are not one-dimensional characters; every one experiences life fully. Each moment is filled with details, beautifully described in language rich with color.
Picking up where book three (Plaint for Provence) left off, we find Dragonetz at the court of El Rey Lobo alongside his Liege, Ramon Bereguer of Barcelone. The interactions between these three creates an immediate tension at the beginning of the book, capturing the reader’s attention and effectively holding it throughout. Soon we learn that Dragonetz feels guilty because he is keeping a secret from his lover, Estela. He chose to prevent her from being hurt by withholding the truth about the betrayal of Geoffroi de Rancor, a man she believed to be her friend. To do penance for what he views as a great wrong, he embarks on a pilgrimage. This is just the beginning of travels that take place in the book.
Called by Queen Alienor (Eleanor of Aquitaine) to her court, Dragonetz is offered the opportunity to clear his name by undertaking a task the Queen demands. Determined to sit as Queen of England alongside her spouse, Henri, Alienor has a plan and she needs Dragonetz to be successful. Despite her lover’s objections and the Queen’s reticence, Estela insists on joining him, leaving their son Musca in the care of trusted friends and servants. What ensues is a sometimes-perilous journey North to Gwalia (Wales) to assure the loyalty of the leader of these wild people to Henri, the King. Spying was a dangerous game, but Dragonetz was hungry to have his good name restored, so he agrees to take on the task. There are battles, intrigue, and an intense romance as the story progresses.
The language, names, and culture of Gwalia is added to this already culturally rich narrative. Gill’s skill at moving from culture to culture, savoring the distinctive colors of each, is breathtaking. As I read, I was drawn along, experiencing each new character’s unique personality, relishing the flavor of their worlds. Through it all there is the music of the troubadours, Dragonetz and Estela. Their songs, which united them from the beginning, draw them always closer, sealing their bond of love and devotion. Even in the most harrowing moments of this story, there is no doubt of their commitment to one another, of a love that can withstand any trial.
I highly recommend reading this series in order. By doing so the reader will appreciate the relationship between Dragonetz and Estela, and can fully enjoy the development of their relationship. Characters may come and go, but Dragonetz and his lady love are a constant. Even when they are apart, they are in one another’s thoughts, united by their love and their music.
Readers of historical fiction will appreciate Gill’s attention to detail, romance readers will be captivated by the relationship between the lovers, adventurers will appreciate the thrills of battles, and all readers can celebrate a tale well told.
1153 in Hispania and the Isles of Albion
Thrilling conclusion to an award-winning series. Global Ebooks Award for Best Historical Fiction. FINALIST in The Wishing Shelf and the Chaucer Awards. The Historical Novel Society Editor’s Choice.
Dragonetz and Estela: the troubadours.
They thought they knew each other but they didn’t even know themselves.
Dragonetz has failed Eleanor of Aquitaine once. Now she plans to be Queen of England he could make amends. Although prepared to risk his own life on an impossible quest, a knight should protect his lady, or so say the troubadour songs. His lady, however, plays to a different tune and she wants partnership, not protection.
Estela and Dragonetz fight their enemies, both on the battlefield and in the courts of Christendom, from the sophistication of Zaragossa to the wilds of Wales. Can they win through to song hereafter, together? Or have they broken one rule too many?
Mystery, intrigue, romance and adventure fill the pages of this magnificent conclusion to an epic series sure to delight fans of Elizabeth Chadwick and Bernard Cornwell. Jean Gill captures the soul of the age and the characters who lived in it.
‘Historical Fiction at its best’, Karen Charlton, the Detective Lavender Mysteries