MY PRIMARY CHARACTERS
He is born to nobility, but as his father's third son he is denied an inheritance and pledged to a monastery. Radeaux will spend his youth in search of his true identity, until he falls in love with the orphan girl Laele. When she is forced to marry another man, he vows to escape the monastery by marching on the crusade. At the mercy of ambitious men such as Bishop Adhemar of Le Puy and Count Raymond of Toulouse, he must conquer fear, endure treachery and warfare, and face the truth about his family. Will he survive the perilous journey across empires and continents? And even if he does, can he ever find Laele again?
*When I created the fictional characters that breathe life into this historic journey, I drew portraits of them as well. By translating what my mind envisioned into a physical presence, I was able to gaze into their faces and read their expressions while their various personalities and character attributes developed throughout the story.
She is an orphan when she comes to the Cluny Monastery and falls in love with the monk Radeaux. But to put an end to their forbidden love, Laele is married against her will to Sir Ludmar of Amiens, a cruel man she has never met, and she becomes pregnant. However, through her friendship with young Collette, also a victim of circumstances, and the love for the new life growing inside her, she finds the will to go on. However, when Ludmar crusades with the army of Duke Robert of Normandy, he drags Laele with him. Will love for her child be enough, or will she seek to reclaim the past by searching for Radeaux?
Young, naive, and altruistic, he is only recently a husband and father. A knight in the retinue of the Abbess of Essen, he embarks upon the crusade with noble intentions. As he marches with the army of Duke Godfroi of Boillion and his menacing brother Baldwin, Fultyn discovers that the crusade is no holier than any other war. With the guidance of Sir Joffre of Esch, he masters the arts of war and intrigue. But along with his idealism, he begins to question everything else as well, including even his devotion to God and his family. Can Fultyn remain true to himself, his wife and family, and his cause?
She is the youthful wife of Fultyn, to whom she was betrothed in childhood, and mother of their son Gaelyn. When her husband marches with the crusade, Margarete is left behind to struggle with her own demons. When her mother-in-law dies, she reluctantly becomes the head of Fultyn's family, all the while wondering if she even loves him. She also wonders about the family she was separated from as a child. Amidst her doubts, Margarete falls under the sway of Lutgardis, the Abbess of Essen. With Lutgardis' remarkable guidance, she will undertake her own perilous journey to the East.
He is a humble peasant, by all appearances content with his lot in life, though it is one of near constant toil. His marriage to Collette makes the hardship worth bearing. As long as he is left alone to work in his fields, the crusade is the furthest thing from his mind. But it is Collette's insistence upon the holy pilgrimage that forces him to confront the ordeal. He resolves to go with her and protect her at all costs. As events draw him in, Clovis comes face to face with danger and the ambitions of great men. Against all his instincts, he finds himself at the center of the intrigues of those who care little for God, countrymen, or family.
As a teenaged girl, she was rescued by Clovis from the horrible abuses of her father. But the scars from her past remain a constant burden to her. She miscarries her first child, convinced it is a punishment from God. When Pope Urban promises redemption to all who accompany the crusade, she sees her opportunity to make peace with her past. Despite Clovis' efforts to dissuade her, Collette is determined to make the journey. Along the way, forced to endure the hardships of the march, as well as treachery and deceit from within the crusader ranks, her belief in God and man will be tested to the utmost.
She is the Abbess of Essen, Lord of the Abby and town of Essen, and the surrounding territory. She is also the employer of Fultyn, a knight in her retinue. This is an extraordinary position for a woman to be in at the time, but she is up to the task in her own inimitable way. She is a feminist before her time, and her great ambition is to build a hospital that employs only the most advanced medical knowledge, mostly from the Saracen East. To do this, she will challenge the entrenched power of the patriarchal clergy. She will also play an influential role in the troubled life of Margarete, the wife of her favorite knight Fultyn.
He is a young orphan when we first meet him, scratching out a meager existence as a stable boy and vassal of Ludmar, the heartless husband of Laele. But there is far more than initially meets the eye, which Laele quickly discovers. In her determination to aid Clovis and Collette's escape from her husband to embark on the crusade, she sends the boy with them as a guide. It turms out he is invaluable, and soon becomes the surrogate son of the young couple. As the crusade progresses, Amos is forced to grow up quickly. But he is resilient and resourceful, often times even more so than the parents he "adopts."
When he embarks on the crusade with the army of Duke Godfroi, Sir Joffre is already a veteran soldier, as well as a master of political strategy and court intrigues. When the need arises, he enlists the cooperation of the Hungarian King Coloman, whom he served as advisor to in the past. While doing so, he incurs the enmity of Godfroi's evil younger brother Baldwin by becoming a mentor and protector to young Fultyn. Though he is a hardened cynic, well accustomed to the machinations of nobleman, kings and emperors, he has a soft spot in his heart, which he demonstrates as the benefactor of Clovis and Collette.
He is the son of a merchant, and one of a community throughout Europe for whom there is no legitimate homeland, for the Jews are a scattered race. Somewhat reluctantly, he follows in the footsteps of his father, and prospers. But when the crusaders march through Cologne, he and his family are forced to flee from persecution. As they endure many a cruel twist of fate, they are drawn inexorably toward Jerusalem, where Samech dreams to raise his grandson. But this puts them all squarely in the path of the crusaders yet again, and their survival will depend upon his wits and guile, and a good measure of luck as well.
*In addition to these main fictional characters, there is a varied and colorful cast of secondary fictional characters who accurately represent life as it was during this era. Also among the cast are numerous, prominent historical figures who greatly influenced the course of events. But it is my fictional characters who, as they go about their everyday lives, find themselves caught up in historic events as they unfold, and thus serve as the eyes and ears of my readers. They are witness to, and participate in, the great deeds and misdeeds of the mighty, those ambitious men and women whose names are famous.
-Jon Anthony Hauser