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I accidentally read two Gothic novels in a row Not quite sure how that happened This was a fun adventure in which poor Raphaelle keeps getting captured and fought over while getting mixed up in a war between Catholics and Cathars I didn t know much about the Cathars prior to reading this and looked up a bit about them to see if the book seemed accurate since the way the book portrayed them seemed outlandish, but apparently it is pretty accurate Religion can sure make some people crazy I enj I accidentally read two Gothic novels in a row Not quite sure how that happened This was a fun adventure in which poor Raphaelle keeps getting captured and fought over while getting mixed up in a war between Catholics and Cathars I didn t know much about the Cathars prior to reading this and looked up a bit about them to see if the book seemed accurate since the way the book portrayed them seemed outlandish, but apparently it is pretty accurate Religion can sure make some people crazy I enjoyed this although it got a bit muddled at the end Now I really need to read something where the poor innocent girl doesn t need go be saved by a knight turned monk like in the last two books I ve read 6 2010.A spunky heroine, the Cathar heresy, and some swashes being buckled I liked this book quite a lot Vidal managed to combine romance without immodesty, insight into how a truly Catholic girl would have responded to suddenly being confronted by a heresy, and a feel for life back in those long ago times I especially liked the heroine s confusion over the many similarities of the Cathar heresy and true Catholicism It is that same confusion that often hits us today when something is not 6 2010.A spunky heroine, the Cathar heresy, and some swashes being buckled I liked this book quite a lot Vidal managed to combine romance without immodesty, insight into how a truly Catholic girl would have responded to suddenly being confronted by a heresy, and a feel for life back in those long ago times I especially liked the heroine s confusion over the many similarities of the Cathar heresy and true Catholicism It is that same confusion that often hits us today when something is not quite right about the philosophy someone is espousing but we can t quite pin it down.However, this book also felt strangely incomplete in some way which I have pondered a lot, considering I enjoyed the book so much It finally occurred to me that this book was like a slice taken from a larger one and we weren t told enough of the whole story This snapshot was so good that we want to knowabout the heroine s time in the convent,about her marriage without having just bits given to us For reference to any who would like to know what came to mind when thinking of fully satisfying book, I give you historical fiction Samuel Shellabarger romance mystery Jane Eyre, Mary Stewart, Georgette Heyer overall good fiction Rumer Godden Also, the typesetting was gigantic The book could easily have been 100 normal paperback pages if it had been set in anormal size Oh, the pain.Recommended for those who like a pure romance, who want to knowabout the Cathar heresy, and who like historical fiction @Download Book õ The Night's Dark Shade: A Novel of the Cathars â Set amid the turmoil of the Albigensian Crusade in thirteenth century France, THE NIGHT S DARK SHADE tells of heresy versus orthodoxy, and of forbidden love versus fidelity Heiress of her father s estates in Auvergne, the orphaned Lady Raphaelle leaves her home to marry a nobleman in a remote castle in the Pyrenees There she encounters the mysterious Cathar sect who challenge all of her most deeply held beliefs As she seeks the path of her true calling, she discovers hatred and betrayal, as well as abiding friendship and unexpected love A harrowing and engrossing journey Catherine Delors, author of Mistress of the Revolution The Night s Dark Shade explores the passions of the human soul, the danger of heresyand the heady enchantment of courtly loveA gripping tale filled with danger, intrigue, and adventure Historical Novel Reviews Online In her third work of fiction, both a richly detailed historical novel and a dark morality tale, Elena Maria Vidal takes readers deep into the heart of the th century French Pyrenees Sarah Johnson, author of Historical Fiction A Guide to the Genre A historical romance set in 13th century France, The Night s Dark Shade is an engrossing tale about faith, honor, and courtly love.In the wake of the loss of her family and her betrothed, Lady Rapha lle finds herself thrust into a world that challenges everything she believes in Drawn into an arranged marriage with her cousin, Raymond, the young Vicomtesse de Miramande is placed under the guardianship of her uncle, the Baron de Marcadeau Hopeful and eager to make the most of her situation, Rap A historical romance set in 13th century France, The Night s Dark Shade is an engrossing tale about faith, honor, and courtly love.In the wake of the loss of her family and her betrothed, Lady Rapha lle finds herself thrust into a world that challenges everything she believes in Drawn into an arranged marriage with her cousin, Raymond, the young Vicomtesse de Miramande is placed under the guardianship of her uncle, the Baron de Marcadeau Hopeful and eager to make the most of her situation, Rapha lle is disappointed to find that all is not as she believed Set upon by a band of brigands while traveling to her uncle s estate, Rapha lle meets the dashing Sir Martin de Revel Saissac, a knight of the Hospitaller order This fateful meeting awakens Rapha lle s sense of passion and longing, an awakening that brings with it a restlessness and sudden awareness of her position as a female.Struggling between duty and love, Rapha lle is unwittingly drawn into a world marked by heresy and fanaticism Under the auspices of friendship, Rapha lle is beguiled by her aunt, the Lady Esclarmonde, a Perfecta of the Cathar sect who wants to ensure that her son s marriage will prove advantageous to the Cathar Unwilling to compromise her Christian faith and wishing to annul her betrothal, Rapha lle seeks the aid of her cousin Bertrand and Sir Martin, and soon finds herself placed in the custody of Sir Jacques d Orly, King Louis IX s loyal liege.Braving danger and persecution, Rapha lle emerges as a strong and thoughtful character, a woman certain of her virtue and moral stance This novel drew me in from the very first page and put me in mind of the Lais of Marie de France Rapha lle is a charming character whose innocence and strong opinions make her a worthy lady and a wonderful protagonist The history of the Cathari is fascinating and lends a darkness to the tale that adds a thrilling sense of mystery to Rapha lle s journey.I highly recommend this novel for readers interested in fiction about medieval women s lives and courtly love Interesting portrayal of a heresy that still has echoes in today s society The story is about faith, love and charity, no matter what the circumstances Great characters and quite an adventure Well done. It was terrible The prose was uncomfortable The characters flat, one dimensional The story never went anywhere There was no development, nothing tied together It was a Catholic Christian novel, and like most Christian novels only had one note I think the author may have been trying to make several points about marriage, but they fell flat Marriage is adark, beautiful, deep, painful, exquisite thing than this author was capable of expressing She shouldn t have tried I think if she It was terrible The prose was uncomfortable The characters flat, one dimensional The story never went anywhere There was no development, nothing tied together It was a Catholic Christian novel, and like most Christian novels only had one note I think the author may have been trying to make several points about marriage, but they fell flat Marriage is adark, beautiful, deep, painful, exquisite thing than this author was capable of expressing She shouldn t have tried I think if she hadn t gone for the bigger points, it might have made a sweet adventure, but I felt like I was being lectured by someone who didn t understand the subject This novel brought to life for me the era in which our early Dominican brothers and sisters lived and preached I was also stunned chilled at the parallels to our own times Wonderfully written work The Night s Dark ShadeThe story of Raphaelle, Vicomtesse de Mirimande, is a ripping good chapter tale If Elena Maria Vidal is anything at all, as an author, she is marvelously gifted as a yarn spinning, bell toned story teller Ordinarily, I tend not to be a fan of the romanza, but I thoroughly enjoyed the pace and people of this story and will read again In fact the next time, I will read it aloud, for all good tales should be told in front of a leaping fire to as many ears as will listen.In The Night s Dark ShadeThe story of Raphaelle, Vicomtesse de Mirimande, is a ripping good chapter tale If Elena Maria Vidal is anything at all, as an author, she is marvelously gifted as a yarn spinning, bell toned story teller Ordinarily, I tend not to be a fan of the romanza, but I thoroughly enjoyed the pace and people of this story and will read again In fact the next time, I will read it aloud, for all good tales should be told in front of a leaping fire to as many ears as will listen.In her previous books Tea at Trianon and Madame Royale, Elena Maria Vidal, crafts her characters directly from the pages of history, giving voice and depth and potency of thought and action to a King and a Queen who left many of their own words behind for her to peruse as she unfolded vignettes of their story for us to become lost in for a time In this most recent offering from Elena Maria, The Nights Dark Shade, she draws the characters in the story directly from her own fulsome imagination, from a bit of regional travel perhaps, but primarily from her own experience of life and love, from universal truths and their consequences, from the vagaries of good and evil, invoking God and struggling with mankind as despair is overshadowed by hope This is the real joy of the story It is hopeful to its core Not a saccharine unrealistic yearning, but a solid substantial expectation that in spite of the evils of the world, there is space in our lives for light and love and heart felt laughter In order to find these spaces, however, one must climb through the flinty detritus of human weakness as the wicked are celebrated and the good are driven out to fend for themselves alone children are left to starve, or murdered in the womb, while sexual excess, cruelty, and license are inconvenient, but expected and tolerated aspects of a totally corrupt humanity In this abased darkness of human nature, true chivalry comes at the price of creature comforts, and true loves bloom as a false love lies dying.The story is set in the wonderland of the French Pyrenees in Languedoc, south of the Dardogne, north of Gascony, and east of Hautes Pyrenees and Lourdes The mountain passes are high and treacherous, with brooding monasteries perched among the peaks The towns and villages huddle beneath massive fairy tale fortresses and are graced by Romanesque cathedral churches built to match the forbidding face of the castle walls and buttresses The call of eagles answer the cry of newborn lambs and the peoples are strong mountain folk, rugged but sometimes far too easily led astray Night s Dark Shade is the story of a woman of the petite nobility of the region, who is bound, by inheritance and title, to the land and to the people She is bound to a marriage of familial convenience and it is in the breaking of those bindings and the consequential disposition of her heart and soul that the story reaches its climax and unpredictable denouement The pace is fast, the language formal but clipped and clear and as sharp as the cliff edges that frame the story Thoroughly delightful change of time and place Thoroughly recognizable to the contemporary heart After having read the exquisite book, Trianon A Novel of Royal France, by Elena Maria Vidal, I couldn t wait to read The Night s Dark Shade by this excellent author Although different from the days of Marie Antoinette, in this 13th c novel, Rapha lle, our heroine also lives turbulent and trying times that require a strong faith to carry on at all cost.A noble by birth, Rapha lle had been appointed in the court of Queen Blanche, when all was well under the rule of Louis VIII The Lion After Lo After having read the exquisite book, Trianon A Novel of Royal France, by Elena Maria Vidal, I couldn t wait to read The Night s Dark Shade by this excellent author Although different from the days of Marie Antoinette, in this 13th c novel, Rapha lle, our heroine also lives turbulent and trying times that require a strong faith to carry on at all cost.A noble by birth, Rapha lle had been appointed in the court of Queen Blanche, when all was well under the rule of Louis VIII The Lion After Louis was killed in the crusade against the Albigensians, along with Rapha lle s father and her betrothed, the country underwent the rule of the King s young son, Louis IX It was a trying time, with the masses rebelling and poor Queen Blanche barely holding what was left of the kingdom, together.Rapha lle, now practically an orphan, was given permission by the Queen to leave and live under the guardianship of her uncle and to marry her first cousin, Raymond A new life was promised to her, and despite the sorrow of having lost her closest loved ones, Rapha lle bravely took on the journey towards her new life.What was unbeknownst to her was that her uncle s castle would be dreadfully macabre under the rule of not so much her uncle, but especially so of her aunt, Lady Esclarmonde She was the highest priestess of the Cathars, a group of fanatically religious people who had a skewed sense of that which was moral or good On a mission of ridding the world of children, marriage, and all essence of Christianity, the Cathars believed in adulterous relationships, strict fasting of meat, the facilitation of killing babies born or unborn all for the good of the planet hmmm The Cathars attended morbid rituals in the deep of the night, in a hollow cave where the secret gem that held all powers was kept.Although the Cathars were sought after and tried for their heresy, the tribe thrived in living incognito amongst the people of the villages The castle where Rapha lle lived was home to their highest Queen and all villagers feared her Also despised and suffering cruelty at the hands of her husband to be, a great Cathar leader in the making, Rapha lle planned her escape.Throughout the book, there are many good soldiers and monks who help fight the cause, helping the innocent and the travelers along their way One such grand man was Sir Martin, a Knight Hospitaller of Saint John He was almost a constant presence in this book a savior as often as he was maligned.We meet many intricate characters in The Night s Dark Shade each contributing to the riveting events that ensue in this well written book I enjoyed learning about the religious differences and strongholds that this heretic religion had on those almost barbaric times Surprisingly, I often felt that there were many similarities to some of the pejorative notions still held today by certain groups, in terms of marriage, children and morality, for the most part The opinion of saving a world at the sake of its inhabitants and the over indulgence at the expense of others resonated strongly in my mind as controversial topics that still make waves today, as they try to pass themselves for the norm.It was indeed quite thought provoking to read this book which is about not only an absorbing love story but also about the tribulations in the name of religion, the horror in the beliefs of the times and the suffering for cause.Will Rapha lle s soul find peace through love and her true calling Friendship, loyalty, deception and betrayal along with a strong religious vein are all found in this book that truly stands out on its own.I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learningabout the time of the Albigensian Crusade and the heretics specifically the Cathars in Southern France But best of all, you ll also find a beautiful love story with a surprising twist A must for those who love to read about religion in history with a touch of pure romance A version of this review appeared at Catholic Exchange and CatholicMom.comIt s an unfortunate fact that each generation must uncover for itself Love is a battlefield Except for those who marry their first love, and early in life, most of us carry on our hearts the scars of broken, often ill advised, romantic entanglements Each friendship leaves its mark those characterized by authentic Christian charity and fidelity touch our souls lightly and for the better Those that are not, do not Eith A version of this review appeared at Catholic Exchange and CatholicMom.comIt s an unfortunate fact that each generation must uncover for itself Love is a battlefield Except for those who marry their first love, and early in life, most of us carry on our hearts the scars of broken, often ill advised, romantic entanglements Each friendship leaves its mark those characterized by authentic Christian charity and fidelity touch our souls lightly and for the better Those that are not, do not Either way, when the friendship ends, some pain is inevitable.My husband and I discovered this for ourselves when we met each other I was 35, he was 45 Because of our respective pasts, some scars run so deep that there is really no getting rid of them entirely, though marriage has in a very real way been a sacrament of healing as well as vocation Every once in a while a twinge resurfaces Which raises an important question When such memories resurface, what is a faithful soul to do What does fidelity demand Have you ever wondered this If so, pick up a copy of Elena Maria Vidal s The Night s Dark Shade When the heroine s fianc and father die in battle, so crushed is Lady Raphaelle that nothing is left for her but duty Day after anguished day she trudges along and hopes for if not the best, at least a measure of peace Instead she finds herself trapped by circumstances, surrounded by good Christians who do not reverence the cross, bear witness to the goodness of creation, or regard pregnancy as a gift to be embraced within marriage.In the words of King Solomon, there is truly nothing new under the sun Although Vidal s latest novel is set in medieval France, The Night s Dark Shade is richly textured with two perennial truths From one generation to the next, faith and love are tested by any number of devilish counterfeits And each in turn discovers that the surest pathway to happiness lies not in surrender to the sham, but in resistance.Vidal has a loyal following of readers because of her lyrical, thoroughly Catholic treatment of medieval French history Her first two novels, Trianon and Madame Royale, offer unexpected glimpses into the life and faith of Marie Antoinette and her extended family The Night s Dark Shade examines a different period of history, and yet this book also raises important questions and draws connections that are as relevant now as they were hundreds of years ago Well worth reading The Night s Dark Shade and Elena Maria Vidal s other novels are available through.com or directly through the publisher be sure to peruse her blog, href at Trianon, as well