13th Century Armor of Light Reads Well in 21st
Reviewed by Patrick W. Andersen
To borrow a lyric from Led Zeppelin, Armor of Light transports us to days of old when magic filled the air. But unlike the Middle Earth fantasy that inspired that line, magic does not dominate author Ellen L. Ekstrom’s tale about George Ascalon. The war-sick veteran of the Fourth Crusade returns to England to confront the very human challenges of rivalry, manipulation and the fight to maintain honor.
After the horrors he witnessed first-hand in the Sack of Constantinople, George abandons the war. This earns him derision from many who have never held a sword, let alone used it for its deadly purpose. George returns home to learn that his father, formerly the earl of Grasmere, has become a monk, thus making George the new earl. He befriends the mysterious Joanna, tries to avoid the ambitious Elinor, and rues the vows his father made regarding the Lady Richildis. George would prefer to adopt the simple country life, but events have conspired to force him into one final quest. The forces arrayed against him include what appears to be magic, but the reader also gets hints that some of these demons come from within.
Ms. Ekstrom, an ordained deacon, blends spirituality into her historical fiction without beating the reader over the head with a Bible. Add in a healthy dose of medieval mythology, and we have a tale that is both native to the 13th century and quite at home in the 21st. This is a good read.