A tale of love in an era of war and blood feuds. Francia, 778: Alda has never forgotten Ganelon's. vow of vengeance when she married his rival, Hruodland. Yet the jilted suitor's malice is nothing compared to Alda's premonition of disaster for her beloved, battle-scarred husband. Although the army invading Hispania is the largest ever and King Charles has never lost a war, Alda cannot shake her anxiety. Determined to keep Hruodland from harm, even if it exposes her to danger, Alda gives him a charmed dragon amulet. Is its magic enough to keep Alda's worst fears from coming true. and protect her from Ganelon? Inspired by legend and painstakingly researched, The Cross and the Dragon is a story of tenderness, sacrifice, lies, and revenge in the early years of Charlemagne's reign, told by a fresh, new voice in historical fiction.
My Thoughts: I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I absolutely loved this book! I haven't read anything about this period in history so this story was completely new and exciting for me. The characters, romance and the setting sucked me in from page one and I stayed up pretty late a few nights because I couldn't put this book down.
Alda was a fantastic character. She was so strong-willed and like always, I loved that she didn't conform to typical feminine stereotypes of the era. She wasn't afraid to state her opinions and she didn't try to hide her feelings about those around her. I just found her to be a very admirable and likable character. I also really liked Hruodland. I was rooting for him through the whole story and I loved that he stood by Alda no matter how many people tried to tear them apart. While I enjoyed reading about Alda and Hroudland, Ganelon was a whole other story. He was the most evil villain! Every time I thought he couldn't get any worse, he totally did. I think the author did a great job of creating a character that was so horrible that he had absolutely no redeeming qualities.
I also really enjoyed the descriptions of the setting. When reading about the abbeys of Nonnenworth and St. Stephen as well as Drachenhaus, I felt like I could really see these places and all the things going on within them. The story also made me really interested in this era in history. I had never heard of Roncevaux and I knew next to nothing about The Song of Roland until reading this book. Ms. Rendfeld's book included a very extensive author's note explaining the historical context for the story and I just became fascinated by some of the historical figures from the story. I will definitely be doing some follow up reading and as is my way, I give major bonus points to this book for including an author's note. It is obvious from the note that she did an extensive amount of research before writing this book.
I would highly recommend this book to any fan of historical fiction. The characters and setting are excellent and the story is a breath of fresh of air in a genre that has been overwhelmed with Tudor era novels. 4 stars.