The Rebel Princess
Judith Koll Healey
Morrow, Jun 30 2009, $25.95
In October 1207, Princess Alais, sister to King Phillipe of France, waits for the return of her lover, English leader of the Knights Templar William of Caen to complete his mission safely. She impatiently hopes one day they will openly display their love and she can tell his ward Francis that she is his mother and English King Henry I is his sire. Before she can do that first he must leave the order.
William and Francis come to see Alais and her brother to consult with the king re the Cathars breakaway region in the south centered in Toulouse. Phillip rejects the pope’s envoys plea to mount a counter offensive; this angers Armand Amary, a church VIP who wants all the Cathars executed as heretics. When Francis is kidnapped, Alais heads to Toulouse risking her life searching for her offspring while William goes on a Pope Innocent III directed mission.
Fans of Sharon Kay Penman and Rebecca Gellis will love this fantastique medieval historical fiction novel with a romantic subplot that enhances the prime court-papal intrigue story line. Readers learn about the Catharism movement focusing on the principles of a Good God and an evil adversary; their tenet of no priests or buildings ultimately led to the Albigensian Crusade. Although Alais does nothing wrong on her quest to save her son, the sequel to THE CANTERBURY PAPERS remains overall an insightful thirteenth century thriller.