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The Mystic Rose (The Celtic Crusades #3)
ISBN 0310217849 / 9780310217848 / 0-310-21784-9
Publisher Zondervan Publishing Company
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Skilfully weaving bloody conflict and intrigue and faith, The Mystic Rose concludes Stephen Lawhead's epic historical trilogy, The Celtic Crusades, in fine style. While the tightly constructed 435 pages can be read as a self-contained adventure, anyone doing so will miss many resonances with previous volumes, The Iron Lance and The Black Rood. With a framing narrative set in the early 20th century, Lawhead recounts a grand scale quest through medieval Spain and Anatolia around strong Celtic heroine Cait and the feared Knights Templar for the Holy Grail. This author has used the grail legend before, notably in the conclusion to the Pendragon Cycle, Grail, though here the approach is largely historical and while Lawhead's Christianity informs his writing he never preaches. He is a storyteller first, who by employing direct, folk-like narrative prose compels by making the reader care deeply about the fate of his characters. There are no soft options, and as in Lawhead's best work, Byzantium, strong interplay between Christian and Islamic values, all of the leading players fully rounded with vices and virtues. Less artful than Mary Gentle's in many ways comparable Ash, above all The Mystic Rose is an unpretentious romantic adventure which delivers a thrilling emotional punch. --Gary S. Dalkin [via]