Monday, February 24, 2014

Pilgrim Footprints on the Sands of Time by Sylvia Nilsen

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Read: February 23, 2014

A few months after Richard FitzUrse and his fellow knights murder Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral, Lord Robert and Lady FitzUrse are instructed by King Henry to make a penitential pilgrimage to the tomb of Saint James the Greater in Spain in order to earn redemption for his disgraced family. William Beaumont has made a promise to his dead mother and younger sister to go on a pilgrimage to save their souls. William is secretly in love with Alicia Bearham, niece of Lord Robert. He is overjoyed when he is asked to accompany the family and their servants on their three-month pilgrimage. They face many adversities, dangers, and an attempted murder on the long and hazardous journey across England, France and Spain. Who is trying Sir Robert and Alicia? What does the gypsy woman they meet in Paris mean when she predicts that Alicia and William are destined to be soul mates, but only when the eleventh flaming star returns to the skies and the water carrier rises over the horizon? One fateful night, a shocking event changes their lives forever. 

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Sylvia Nilsen's Pilgrim Footprints on the Sands of Times is a difficult book for me to review. The central plot is vastly interesting and I greatly appreciated the diverse scope of the story, but I also couldn't help wanting more from the narrative. 

I've read historic fiction for years and am no stranger to the pilgrimage concept, but I'm nearly positive Nilsen's is the first novel I've read where the journey itself takes center stage. An impressive effort, I really appreciated the balance she struck between the physical and spiritual aspects of these expeditions and the transformation that can occur in those who dare venture them. Ideally, I would have liked to more depth in the individual personalities of her cast, but I can't deny the complexities of their experiences made good fiction. 

That being said, I often found myself wondering at Nilsen's prose. Early in the narrative William reflects on the influenza that took his mother, an event which prompted his decision to become a doctor. This was an awkward scene for me, the first of many in fact. You see, the terms influenza and doctor did not enter the English language until the 1700s and frankly felt out of place in the inner monologue of a character from 1176. Absent a historical note, I can't say why Nilsen opted for modern terminology, but atmospherically the decision made her work a challenge to get lost in. 

A heartfelt tale, Pilgrim Footprints on the Sands of Time chronicles the remarkable path of a boy's journey into manhood. Not as in-depth as I might have liked, but unique for its originality and perspective.

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She is there, he thought, caring for my soul until I can be with her again.
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Check out all the stops on Sylvia Nilsen's Pilgrim footprints on the sands of time VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR


Monday, February 24
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Spotlight & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection
Tuesday, February 25
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Thursday, February 27
Spotlight & Giveaway at Kinx’s Book Nook
Friday, February 28
Guest Post at A Bookish Libraria
Monday, March 3
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Guest Post at Mina’s Bookshelf
Tuesday, March 4
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Wednesday, March 5
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Thursday, March 6
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Friday, March 7
Review at Reading the Ages
Monday, March 10
Review & Guest Post at Just One More Chapter
Tuesday, March 11
Review at The Most Happy Reader
Wednesday, March 12
Review at Staircase Wit
Spotlight & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
Thursday, March 13
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Friday, March 14
Interview at Layered Pages
Monday, March 17
Review at Book Nerd
Tuesday, March 18
Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Wednesday, March 19
Guest Post at Kelsey’s Book Corner
Thursday, March 20
Review at From L.A. to LA
Friday, March 21
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

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