Sunday, May 13, 2007

Review: The Blue Gonfalon

The Blue Gonfalon by Margaret Ann Hubbard
1960, Lepanto Press, 187 pages, hardcover

Bennet’s life dream is to become a knight. Not one to sit idly by, he does everything in his power to physically train for such a high position in the hopes of at least becoming a squire someday. But how can his dream ever become a reality when he is just the son of a lowly armorer of the great Lord Godfrey of Bouillon, Duke of Lorraine.

Life, however, takes a sudden turn of events when Peter the Hermit, riding through the region, sets everyone on fire with his preaching to save the holy city of Jerusalem from the hands of the infidels.

Not long after, Pope Urban convenes a meeting with bishops, archbishops, and cardinals to prepare the way for the first crusade. The result is Pope Urban’s challenge to every man, woman, and child to save Jerusalem under the sign of the “blood-red” cross—a crusade. With Pope Urban’s famous words, “God wills it,” the whole of Western Europe is set in motion in a new direction to conquer Jerusalem.

Suddenly, castle life becomes mundane and boring and the idea of traveling to a distant city, and not any city -but the holy city of Jerusalem, where our Lord preached - an exciting and grand adventure. Life has a new purpose with a noble cause worth fighting for.

Lord Godfrey, however, hesitates. Should he go too? At long last, Lord Godfrey reaches a decision that he too will join the crusade, and to Bennet’s great joy, he is asked to be a squire. After many preparations, the long and arduous journey begins across Europe on to the holy land with the blue gonfalon, Lord Godfrey’s standard, leading the way.

There is plenty of tension, uncertainty, and excitement along the way as not everyone is as enthusiastic and supportive of the cause as they are and they have many battles to overcome before they reach the holy city of Jerusalem. Will Bennet reach his dream of becoming a knight someday?

The Blue Gonfalon is a tale of high romance, not the kind of story of boy meets girl, but a true “romance” of a “narrative depicting heroic or marvelous deeds, pageantry . . .”

Those who know and love history will appreciate Hubbard’s accuracy in presenting a fair and balanced account of the characters and events surrounding the First Crusade (1095 AD). In other words, not everyone has the highest motives for going and those who do go are not suddenly changed into angelic beings, but are still fully human and limited by their human frailties. Bennet, however, as well as Lord Godfrey, always strives to do the right thing.

Hubbard’s flowing narrative holds together a complicated tale of true events, heroic deeds, perilous dangers, and adventurous exploits.

Reviewed by Elizabeth Yank (5/13/07)
Available from Emmanuel Books, Sacred Heart Books and Gifts, and Adoremus Books

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