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I Serve: A Novel of the Black Prince Paperback – June 6, 2009
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"I Serve: A Novel of the Black Prince has everything a lover of dramatic historical fiction could ask for and more." --Historical Novel Society (Historical Novels Review Online: February, 2010)
"Rosanne Lortz tells a wonderful tale.... Through vivid language and in-depth descriptions, she nudges the emotion and credibility out of the story, making the reader truly understand the difficulties of this turbulent era." --Historical Novel Review, Mirella Sichirollo Patzer
Rosanne E. Lortz wrote an intelligent and engaging tale based on real characters and events that made this reading journey one of the most exhilarating of this year. Historical fiction doesn't get much better than this. --Historical Tapestry
This...had it all from disguises, unsatisfied love, fights for honor, and most compelling of all the torments of a man's conscience. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for something a bit off the mainstream. --Historically Obsessed
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I have read a LOT of history and historical fiction, most of it based in this general time period. I'm constantly searching for new books in this genre that are well-written and engrossing. I want to read a slice-of-life wherein the characters aren't given modern-day sensibilities (I'm just about as feminist as they come, but an independent woman in 12th century France is laughably unbelievable). A romantic interest is acceptable, as long as it doesn't overpower the story. More than anything, I want to feel as if I am a part of the story, as if I am actually in the time period that's being written.
If the above description of ME sounds like YOU, then you owe it to yourself to read this book. Not only does this book fit my requirements as outlined above, it is the perfect combination: a relatively simple storyline told with beautifully complex language. The characters are believable, the history is accurate (at least as far as I know) and the ending is satisfying.
In case you're wondering, Ms. Lortz's style reminds me of Sharon Kay Penman - it's not an "easy read" but frankly, I don't WANT one. I really appreciate that the language was not "dumbed down" to appeal to a wider audience. I want to read more by Ms. Lortz, and I want to read it NOW. :) Please, keep writing!!!
This book would more accurately be described as a story of the personal evolution of Sir Potenhale. The story begins with Sir Potenhale in his teens beginning his career as a squire, and ends with his role as a knight for the Black Prince. He struggles to define his identity as a knight, and a Christian man of faith. He seems to drift along as the greater events of history unfolds, acting as an observer, not as a man of action. It is in this way that we hear the story of the Black Prince, learning his character and tracing his actions through time. So, it is a "novel of the black prince," but in a very oblique way that is juxtaposed with Sir Potenhale's coming of age.
The world that the author portrays is one of chivalry and honor. This is not the nitty-gritty middle ages as portrayed in more recent novels. It is this that reminds me so much of the classic Thomas B. Costain novels, especially "The Silver Chalice" and "The Black Rose." Another thing that is similar to Thomas B. Costain novels is the depth of historical accuracy, and the clear, enjoyable writing style. I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy historical fiction of any kind.
The historical novel I Serve follows the rise of the squire John Pottenhale from a squire with a humble background to a knight and confidant of Edward, the Black Prince. I am no expert, but the historical facts and details seemed well researched and used, although at some points I had the feeling that scenes wee added to paint a full historical picture at the expense of the flow of the story.
The development of Pottenhale is interesting, although the story suffered from the narrative style. At the start of the story, Pottenhale meets the widow of a French knight who was Pottenhale's prisoner and friend. So the story is in essence one large flashback, with occasional references from Pottenhale to the widow that took me tight out of the story, A pity, since the overall narrative was sound, interesting enough and mostly at a sufficient pace. But despite some fascinating growth in character, I never felt close to Pottenhale.
As to the aspect of this novel being Christian fiction, it didn't bother me for the most part. The setting of the story was in a time when religion was important, and a key element of chivalry. The author puts forward some religious moral dilemmas which were interesting enough, but I found the apotheosis of the main theme a bit forced.
Overall, this is a solid novel, and it will not disappoint those who love the period of the Hundred Years War.