THE BYZANTIUM SAGA
The primary literary theme that runs through the four-part Byzantium Saga is the struggle of the individual against the constraints of a rigid, hierarchical society. All my characters, whether fictional or historical, and each in their own unique way, are forced to fight for the opportunity to pursue their own destinies. Each must overcome the station in life they arrived at by virtue of the circumstances into which they were born, and not by any choices they made.
serve Bishop Adhemar of Le Puy, the Papal Legate to the crusade, and marches with the army of Count Raymond. Only later will he discover the part Raymond has played in the demise of his family. As he marches off to war, Radeaux experiences the treachery of the nobility and clergy, as well as the hardships of army life. But he will also experience true comradeship for the first time, when he is befriended by the soldiers Pierre, Joechim, and Forio.
Meanwhile, Leale too struggles against her inexorable destiny. Her marriage to Sir Ludmar, a man she had never previously met, is a miserable existence. Cold and heartless, he considers her little more than property whose sole purpose is to bear him an heir. When Laele finds herself pregnant, it seems she has lost all hope of happiness. Still, she will somehow begin to find strength in the new life growing within her. Yet even that appears to be snatched away when Ludmar decides to march on the crusade and drags her with him. However, is it possible that she will again cross paths with Radeaux? Once he discovers that she too has embarked upon the pilgrimage to the Holy Lands, can he find her?
The story begins in Road to Byzantium with Radeaux, a monk who is disenchanted with the church and clergy he never willingly chose to serve. The third son of minor nobility, he is left with no inheritance and as a young man is sent off to the renowned monastery at Cluny, in France. Ironically, this unhappy circumstance will spare his life when his entire family is killed during an uprising against the powerful Count Raymond of Toulouse. Unaware of the fate of his family, and knowing no other options, he tries to make the best of his lot in life.
This all changes when Radeaux falls for the beautiful orphan girl Laele. It is in the midst of this impossible love that he finally realizes how intolerable life is at the monastery. When Laele is married against her will to another man, he is driven first to despair, then defiance. Radeaux comes to believe that his only chance to escape his bondage to the church is to crusade for it, despite his terror of going to war. He will seize the opportunity to
In the lives of several other young couples who are swept up into the harrowing journey as well, we are engaged in an epic adventure that crosses continents and empires. In the lives of their
loved ones who are left behind, we also get a glimpse into the rural, feudal life of Western Europe during the Middle Ages. Throughout their struggles, we observe the birth of towns and cities, craft guilds, expanded trade routes and possibilities for travel, access to the outside world, opportunities
for formal education. Virtually none of these things existed in the backward, insular societies of the West since its descent into the Dark Ages six centuries earlier, at the fall of the Roman Empire.
Throughout all these subplots are woven the threads of profound cultural and social upheaval, which include questioning the ancient power of the nobility and clergy, and the first stirrings of feminism. These tides of groundbreaking societal change would eventually rise up and wash away the repressive, archaic, often brutal way of life known to history as feudalism. Thus the medieval world was transformed, the first seeds of the Renaissance sown, and the modern world ushered forth.
The saga of the First Crusade unfolds throughout Road to Byzantium, Beyond Byzantium, and continues through Siege at Antioch and the entire Byzantium series. The complete story is rife with adventure and historical significance, but the people depicted
are what breath life into it. This incredible cast of characters, including those whose names are famous, are presented as people who are all driven by their own unique passions. Their personal triumphs and sorrows enhance and even transcend the immense, historical setting.
-Jon Anthony Hauser