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Hieros Gamos: (Sacred Union) A Confession Paperback – March 25, 2013

5 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

In Cacciari’s debut medieval drama, a lord’s impending death ignites a volatile relationship between a brother and sister. In the early 12th century, Reiner d’Ivry leaves the monastery, where he’s spent the better half of his childhood, to see to his dying father, the Lord of Sundorgate. Reiner soon learns that he’s been presumed dead and that his sister, Drusiana, is their father’s heir. She says she’ll relinquish her inheritance if Reiner leaves the cloister and stays in Sundorgate. Reiner, however, is determined to marry Drusiana off to a son of their father’s comrade-in-arms. The novel doesn’t offer a magical medieval tale with dragons, knights and clanking swords but a more realistic story of feuding siblings. Readers may find it much easier to sympathize with Drusiana, despite Reiner’s first-person perspective (presented as a confession to a fellow monk). Her reluctance to wed comes across as practical and almost endearing, as she cuts her hair short and dresses as a male. Her brother, meanwhile, is desperate to prove that Drusiana is insane or has a lover, and he slowly becomes deranged himself. His fierce account is often unnerving, as when he breaks into laughter when kneeling to pray and, at his lowest point, drops a rat into a pie that someone later eats. Readers may find it a challenge to follow such a frantic protagonist, but there’s a short reprieve when Reiner returns to the monastery. He soon learns why Drusiana hasn’t sought a potential husband, and the story takes a gleefully dark turn. Cacciari steeps the narrative in the language of its era, so readers with a fear of medieval dialect may want to steer clear, but others will appreciate how the dialogue shuns modernization. Others will be swayed by Reiner’s haunting, ominous moments (“I had shut my eyes as a child and awakened an old man.”). The novel also includes glossaries with Latin translations. An ambitious, intricately composed novel of medieval siblings.

About the Author

Lia Cacciari is a writer of historical fiction that explores the psychological narrative within the Medieval Christian world. Her saga Fyr Boren, set in the early 7th century AD during the first Roman mission to pagan Northumbria, will be published by Bernician in 2016. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can contact her at bernicianpub@gmail.com.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 364 pages
  • Publisher: Bernician (March 25, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 061567996X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0615679969
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,342,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lia Cacciari is writer of literary historical fiction that explores the psychological narrative within the Medieval Christian world. She received a BA in English Literature from Santa Clara University and has been virtually time-traveling throughout the English Middle Ages since childhood. "Hieros Gamos (Sacred Union) - A Confession" is her debut novel set in early 12th century Northern England. It is the story of a familial curse and forbidden love, confessed by a monk oblate who withholds nothing.

Lia is currently completing a passionate saga set in 7th century Northumbria. She is both a medieval historian and an extreme anglo-lingua-phile; her fiction is meant to be deeply evocative of the medieval past. She is glad to hear from readers; you can email her at bernicianpub@gmail.com.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Lia Cacciari's Heiros Gamos is not like any historical fiction I have ever read, particularly of the medieval period. The main protagonist, Reiner d'Ivry, has got the short end of the stick in life: his father dispossesses him by giving him to the benedictine monks as a child, in order to absolve a family curse. But Reiner is no Dickensian hero, innocently suffering a social disease: rather, he is a sort of immature Arthur Dimmesdale, who passionately condemns the sins of his own family while (only too late) learning about his own corrupt motives. He is a particularly harsh judge of his own sister, Drusiana, who will inherit the family lands instead of him: Reiner condemns her for riding horseback alone in the countryside and for rebuffing suitors by retreating into a tower filled with the books her father collected during the Crusades. Although the suitors are in fact more interested in her inheritance, Reiner follows his sister into the tower for even more morally questionable reasons. Nonetheless, this is precisely when we feel the sympathy of Drusiana for her brother (and Lia Cacciari for her tortured character.)

Reiner's vivisection of his own soul is rendered in gory detail. The fear of falling into a moral abyss leads to much moral hypocrisy but also to belated compassion, even in the longest run, wisdom--but he is not a modern hero of introspection who "finds himself" after taste-testing his every whim and weakness. Admittedly, I found myself liking Drusiana more than her brother; yet, even though she is adventurous, independent and self-educated, his sister is not the heroine we associate with these modern virtues. She could not be played by Kristen Stewart, because she would resist the vampire's toothy smile and would ride back home alone at dusk.
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This carefully researched epic is completely engaging and beautifully written. I could not put it down. The characters and plot are extraordinarily compelling and engrossing. Very original, this work completely engrossed me.
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This book, was one of the most intriguing, beautiful stories I have ever read. Reiner's astonishing and passionate confession is as deeply moving as it is richly humorous. An authentic, original literary work.
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Here is a gripping story of forbidden love related by a 12th century English monk. Historically accurate and convincingly narrated as the monk's confession, the story has all the force and poignancy of the lais of Marie de France. Highly recommended. John L'Heureux
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