Book Review: Song at Dawn: 1150 in Provence by Jean Gill

Posted October 14, 2019 by lomeraniel in Audiobooks, Fiction, Historical, Medieval, Review / 0 Comments

Book Review: Song at Dawn: 1150 in Provence by Jean GillSong at Dawn: 1150 in Provence (The Troubadours Quartet #1) by Jean Gill, Jenn Gill
Narrator: Jake Urry
Series: The Troubadours Quartet #1
Published by Self-published on 04-24-18
Genres: Fiction, Historical
Length: 12 hrs and 48 mins
Format: Audiobook
Source: Narrator
Buy on Amazon/Audible
Overal Rating: four-stars

1150 in Provence
On the run from abuse, Estela wakes in a ditch with only her lute, her amazing voice, and a dagger hidden in her underskirt. Her talent finds a patron in Ali Enor of Aquitaine and more than a music tutor in the Queen's finest troubadour and Commander of the Guard, Dragonetz los Pros.
Weary of war, Dragonetz uses Jewish money and Moorish expertise to build that most modern of inventions, a paper mill, arousing the wrath of the Church. Their enemies gather, ready to light the political and religious powder-keg of medieval Narbonne.
Set in the period following the Second Crusade, Jean Gill's spellbinding romantic thrillers evoke medieval France with breathtaking accuracy. The characters leap off the page and include amazing women like Eleanor of Aquitaine and Ermengarda of Narbonne, who shaped history in battles and in bedchambers.

A young girl is found in a ditch beside the path Alienor of Aquitaine’s entourage traverses. She is afraid for her life, and escaping from a dark past, she makes up a new name. Estela de Matin closes so a chapter in her life and starts a new one. Thanks to her musical talents, Alienor and Dragonetz los Pros, a renowned troubadour and crusader, decide to take her in and let her travel with them to Narbonne, to visit Ermengarde’s court.

Historic and fictitious characters interact in this novel, beautifully written, and where the plot is framed by real events. It is clear that Jean de Gill has done some deep historical research to be able to write this book. For the ones expecting plenty of action and a rollercoaster of events, I want to say that this is not that kind of book. This is a story to be slowly savored, paying attention to every small detail, because it will matter in the large scheme of things. I think it is useful to be somewhat familiar with this part of medieval history, and at least know who is who and what was at stake then and there.

This is mainly a book about women of the era, and how they lived and experience things like love, sex, and justice, and how hypocrisy was accepted as part of a righteous life, and publicly defended. I had issues relating to Estela, and some of the other women, but I think this is mainly to how different is life nowadays to what it used to be.

There are several mysteries to be resolved here, and despite some initial suspicions, there are several twists that I did not see coming. Somehow the book seems to be more focused on Estela and her love life than the mysteries and murder attempts, but I think both subjects made a quite exquisite combination. I think it is justified that a book about troubadours should have a beautiful language and the author is allowed to dance around the subject in order to provide a masterpiece.

Jake Urry delivered an awsome narration, with good cadence and very appropriate intonation to the book style. He did an excellent job also with the various poems sang and recited in this book, most of them in what I guess was Aquitainain. The only thing I missed a bit was a bit more differentiation among characters. This was a complex story, and following some dialogs was not an easy task, with all the secrets, lies, and conspiracies.

It took me a little while to get into this book, but it was worth it. I think it will be mostly enjoyed by people with some interest in medieval history.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Story (Plot)
Overall: four-stars