In England, at the dawn of the 1200s, an educated Welsh Noble, Sir Morvran Llywarch, prefers a scholar’s life over knighthood. In his search for knowledge and the mysterious, he embraces the eternal esoteric Cathar teachings and becomes a leader known as Capuche. In this feudal world of brutal suppression, corruption, and hypocrisy of the Catholic Church, the Gnostic ideology of the Cathars stand out as a beacon of hope -- but is a thorn in the eyes of the Church, and witnessing their savagery Capuche sets out to take from the Church and even the scales.
When Morvran innovates bookmaking and falls in love with a nun, his life takes an irreversible turn. Their illicit love, his Cathar affiliation, and nightly raids provoke the terrifying wrath of the Church. But uncovering Capuche’s identity proves difficult, as the Cathars hide in plain sight, part of a population that loves and protects them.
Capuche is a tragedy, a story of hope, passion, and suffering--a mystical journey in search of the beyond and of love under the most arduous circumstances.
Langeraar’s novel offers all the trappings of a great historical romance, with lush descriptive prose and larger than life characters based on real historical figures, albeit reimagined as fictionalized versions. As a Cathar leader, Morvran acquires the nom de guerre “capuche,” the French word for “hood,” and the references to Robin Hood escalate from there: Morvran frequently raids ecclesiastical institutions and redistributes their wealth to the masses, and his lover, Sister Maria, appears to be the namesake of folk heroine Lady Marian.
Although this tale is artfully pieced together with elements borrowed from medieval legends, Langeraar creates a distinct historical world by engaging with the forgotten history of the Cathars and imagining Morvran as a scholar and archivist, allowing him to illustrate the art of bookmaking as well. Langeraar dedicates the novel’s first part to establishing the socio-political context, and despite a constant shifting between the gripping inner lives of his main players, Capuche soon finds its rhythm and seamlessly weaves that context into the characters’ lives, while offering visceral imagery that will transport readers directly into a mesmerizing time and place. Historical fiction fans will be swept into the trials of Morvran and his tribe.
Takeaway: This accomplished historical epic weaves romance, medieval English folklore, and religious tyranny.
Great for fans of: Sharon Penman’s The Land Beyond the Sea, Megan Campisi’s The Sin Eater.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B+
(...) Capuche possesses the makings of an epic movie and captures the attention in a similar fashion. The reader will find themselves visitors to a distant Europe ruled by slothful Kings, overseen by corrupt officials. The underdogs are the commoners fighting back against oppression. Despite a prevalence of doom and gloom, Movran and his faithful associates give hope for change. A tale combining love and betrayal, belief and knowledge, “Capuche” never falls short in its depth. Author Hotse Langeraar has authored a timeless story worth a read (and a re-read).
By: Philip Zozzaro - San Francisco Book Review