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Road from the West: Book I of the Chronicles of Tancred

by Rosanne E. Lortz

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197937,396 (3.5)None
"Haunted by guilt from the past and nightmares of the future, a young Norman named Tancred takes the cross and vows to be the first to free Jerusalem from the infidels. As he journeys to the Holy Land, he braves vast deserts, mortal famine, and the ever-present ambushes of the enemy Turks--but the greatest danger of all is deciding which of the Crusader lords to trust. A mysterious seer prophesies that Tancred will find great love and great sorrow on his journey, but the second seems intent on claiming him before he can find the first. Intrigues and passions grow as every battle brings the Crusaders one step closer to Jerusalem. Not all are destined to survive the perilous road from the West."--Publisher's description.… (more)
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I am so pleased that I keep discovering historical fiction authors who really know how to tell a story. Rosanne Lortz has taken the Crusades, which I have to admit I know little about, aside from Richard the Lionheart, and has written a well-researched and captivating account. I'm not much for battle scenes, but she succeeded in adding just enough to show the harsh reality of war and the mettle it took for these men to fight as they did. While many of the men in the story joined the Crusades for personal gain, for many it was a deeply religious experience. A quest to prove their fealty to their Lord and Church. The main character, Tancred, was one of the latter group.

Tancred is a very likable character. It may seem cliche, but I really enjoy characters that have a purpose, a mission to do good, and a character who has principles and honor. Tancred loses his taste for killing in the name of a liege lord, that is, the killing of Christians. He seems to have no qualms in killing Turks or 'Mussulmen' (I'm assuming the name of the time for Muslims?) because they are infidels who have denounced Christianity. Killing is killing, right? But we must remember the time period, when war was common and many wars were fought in the name of the Church. Despite what we might view as hypocrisy, Tancred is a noble man who refuses to swear allegiance to any state, but the Church.

In her author's note, Lortz informs that all the characters are true historical personages, with the exception of a few supporting characters. She has breathed life into history. Something that I continue to stress that is the importance of historical fiction. An engaging book such as this is one that will spark an interest in learning more about the Crusades, even in the most lay of persons. A planned trilogy, with subsequent books with Tancred as protagonist, the second and third books are Flower of the Desert and Prince of the East, set to release in 2012 and 2013. I, for one, cannot wait to read about the further adventures of Tancred. ( )
  TheTrueBookAddict | Mar 22, 2020 |
I received a copy of and read Road from the West by Rosanne Lortz as part of a tour for Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tours.

Road from the West is good, solid historical fiction. It isn’t riddled with scandal or or breathtakingly unpredictable. It does, however, feature the sort of hero one can get behind: young and determined, with a moral compass to guide his actions and the smarts to find his way in the world. Its supporting characters are intriguing and individual, providing a colorful context into which Tancred’s story is worked.

My full thoughts are posted on Erin Reads. ( )
  erelsi183 | Nov 18, 2013 |
Tancred is a haunted warrior. Seeking redemption for his past sins, he leaves his family and their battle and journeys to Rome. There the Pope offers him absolution if he will take up the banner on the First Crusade. Tancred humbly agrees. When he joins the Crusaders, including his abandoned family, he is surprised to find that many of the warriors lack his zeal and devotion. On the Road to the West, Tancred faces danger from the enemy, as well as treachery from his companions.
Rosanne Lortz captures the First Crusade with all its glory. From preparations to battles, no detail is left out. Battles are fierce, but not gory. The hardships endured by the Crusaders are harsh, but accurately detailed.
Tancred, our humble warrior, at times seems as stalwart and impregnable as the walls he besieges. Like Tancred, I felt drawn to Erimina. However, Alexandra was my favorite character. This girl has passion and drive!
I didn't know a lot about the First Crusade before I read this book. The Crusades have a bad reputation of sorts, and I just lumped all the Crusades into one. However, this book shows the mechanization of the Crusades and it makes for an interesting story. I would recommend it to anyone seeking to learn about the First Crusade. ( )
  allisonmacias | Feb 10, 2012 |
It is obvious from the beginning of this book that Rosanne Lortz loves history. She brought to life the Crusades, but not the "popular" Third Crusade with Richard Coeur de Lion, but instead, starts at the beginning with the First Crusade. This rare treat gives the reader a look at the beginning and the reasons many joined to fight, and because of extensive research that is apparent, also allows the reader to become familiar with Godfrey of Bouillon, Peter the Hermit, and of course main character, Bohemond who was the son of Robert Guiscard. and his nephew Tancred.

Rich with history, this tale is told with a prose that will keep the reader captivated throughout the story, transporting them back to the late 1090's. A time when knight and farmer fought for what they believed in. Some were fighting for God and the Church while others were looking for forgiveness and still others for riches in both wealth and political gain.

With that said, I found this take refreshing. Lortz did not focus so much on the gore of fighting, although there were fights, but on the trek, the lives and survival of large amounts of knights and soldiers. I never fully comprehend the extent these men traveled and what they endured while getting place to place, and then being fit or healthy enough to fight when they were enduring the elements and trying to cope with the lack of food. She created a story that was realistic both in setting and characters. Some, like Tancred, I have grown quite fond of, and was sad to see this book end. I will be impatiently waiting for the for the next book in the series: Flower of the Desert to be published.

Truly a brilliant novel, this book would appeal to both the historical fiction lover as well as the reader that just wants a good story about a flawed hero.With no sex and minimal gore, this book would be a great resource for home school high school students. ( )
  tweezle | Oct 6, 2011 |
In this book of the First Crusade we meet a young, impulsive Marquis by the name of Tancred. He is fighting with his uncle, Bohemund when he realizes that he is killing fellow Christians for mercenary reasons and this does not sit will with him. He impulsively leaves that battlefield and heads to Rome to see Pope Urban. There the Pope convinces him to "take the Cross" and head out to save Jerusalem from the infidel. Tancred returns to tell his Uncle of his decision only to find that Bohemund has decided to head to Jerusalem as well. But Bohemund's motives are far more personal and have nothing to do with helping the Pope.

I was intrigued to read in the author's note that Tancred was a true historical figure. And once I read that little things niggled in the back of my brain and I remembered that I had heard the name before. Ms. Lortz's characterization is fascinating and it is a rare novel of the Crusades that does not have Richard the Lionheart at its center.

I found myself drawn into the world of Tancred and his family from the very first page. While a novel of war it's not a book that is overwrought with scenes of blood and gore. The story progresses at a fast clip with unexpected twists and turns along the way. I am hoping that Tancred matures in the next books in the trilogy. He is a young, brash, impulsive character and he is going to need to develop as time and fate come for him.

Ms. Lortz has a way with words and most definitely has a way with writing about this era in history. I am certainly looking forward to Tancred's future as it's written by this author. ( )
  BooksCooksLooks | Sep 12, 2011 |
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"Haunted by guilt from the past and nightmares of the future, a young Norman named Tancred takes the cross and vows to be the first to free Jerusalem from the infidels. As he journeys to the Holy Land, he braves vast deserts, mortal famine, and the ever-present ambushes of the enemy Turks--but the greatest danger of all is deciding which of the Crusader lords to trust. A mysterious seer prophesies that Tancred will find great love and great sorrow on his journey, but the second seems intent on claiming him before he can find the first. Intrigues and passions grow as every battle brings the Crusaders one step closer to Jerusalem. Not all are destined to survive the perilous road from the West."--Publisher's description.

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