The last in the Troubadour Quartet the song brings Estrela and Dragonetz's story to an end. The novel is a wonderful last dip into the realm of the 12th century Europe and Wales.
It starts with a threat to territory that is nowadays Spain but at the time is divided and a mix of various religious groups. An alliance needs to be formed to ward off the threat. I was astonished at the sheer volume of detail on medieval warfare, laying siege to cities etc. The author must have done a lot of research to be able to go into so much detail. She writes not just about the equipment but about psychology and the practicalities of tools and tactics. Absolutely fascinating.
At the heart of the quartet are a troubadour and his lover. They make an interesting couple with a strong bond between them. They are unusual in many ways and provide a great mirror of reflection for the society they live in.
Although lover Estrela can sing beautifully, singing in those days is done only by men. The novel is full of such fascinating knwoledge about customs and society in the 12th century.
The story takes the lovers back to Wales, which for me, as resident of Carmarthenshire, was particularly interesting. The mention of castles and towns I know, the depiction of places and the people who 'walked here before we' was very rewarding.
The whole quartet is well written, well plotted and beautifully composed -and is brought to a rounded conclusion in this novel.
It is of great interest for Welsh readers and those interested in the period as a whole. Great characters, highly recommended.
I’ve been waiting for the final installment of the Troubadours Quartet with delicious anticipation. It exceeded all my expectations and I loved it!
Before the story starts the author shows us authentic maps of the area from the 12th century, gives us a short background into the Wales of 1153, and introduces us to the historical characters who appear in her series, followed by her main fictional characters. Dragonetz and Estela already felt like old friends - along with Estela’s four-legged protector, the loveable dog Nici - but these introductions reminded me of their relationships with other characters and transported me to the 12th century.
Like the other books, this one is full of action, adventure and clever political intrigue, with a love story weaved throughout the series. Without giving away too many details, Dragonetz is sent on a mission to Wales (Gwalia) to obtain new allies for Alienor. The locals have their own problems, which the visitors are soon swept up in. There are some hair-raising scenes along the way where I was rooting for certain characters to endure and others to get their just desserts (no spoilers here).
The story answers the questions posed by the last book, and many others that I didn’t see coming. This ideal combination make it a thrilling page-turner and very hard to put down.
For me, this book has it all; love, adventure and politics in the twelfth century make for another stunning read from the uber talented Jean Gill.
I can see why the Troubadours Quartet has won many awards and highly recommend the whole series. You won’t be disappointed.
A good historical novel gives you the opportunity to explore a distant and all but unknown world, not as a tourist, not as a scholar, but as a native – seeing and understanding and living in that world.
That’s what you get from Jean Gill’s ‘Troubadours’ series. With her characters Estela and Dragonetz we explore a tumultuous world of colour and danger, cruelty and beauty. A world where superstition and bigotry rub shoulders with brilliance and nobility. It all comes alive in Gill’s writing and when you put the book down you are amazed at how people lived in those times.
Of course, this is not just down to historical accuracy, or even to vivid descriptions. What really draws you into these books are the characters. Both the major and the minor players are well developed and believable, but in Dragonetz and Estela we meet people who are complex, passionate and engaging. They are people we come to care about. After following the course of their lives and their love through all four books and across half the world of their time, we want to see them settled and at peace: they’ve certainly earned it!
But it’s not guaranteed. There are too many enemies, too many uncertainties. ‘Song Hereafter’ takes them to the wild and barbarous lands of Gwalia – Wales. Far from home and caught up in a war that is not their own, they nevertheless discover amazing beauty: and other things less welcome.
I don’t wish to include any spoilers here, but for those who have read the previous ‘Troubadours’ novels, ‘Song Hereafter’ is a fitting and satisfying conclusion. For those who have not – you should! You will not find any better historical fiction, nor a more powerful evocation of a vivid past than in Gill’s brilliantly written series.
The Provence of Estela and Dragonetz is long gone, though it has left its mark in the world. Their native Occitan is still spoken in some parts, but the famous troubadours no longer delight the courts of the great with their powerful voices and clever lyrics. Gill’s novels bring them back and give us a sense of what it was like to live and fight and love in those distant times.
‘Evocative and thoroughly riveting. A vividly-written, historical saga.’ For the last week or so, I have been thoroughly immersed in Song Hereafter by Jean Gill. It is the last book in The Troubadours Quartet, an historical novel full of intrigue, mystery, romance and adventure. Let me begin by saying how gripping this story is. Not only is the plot packed full of twists and turns, but the setting – and the characters – are lovingly described. There is, I think, nothing better than an historical novel written by an author who knows how to balance setting, speech and plot.It is set in the 12th Century, a time in history a little lost to me. To most I think. It is simply too long ago. The 17th Century, yes, but the 12th! And, for me, that is why I enjoyed it so much. You see, Jean Gill is as much a researcher as an author. Yes, her writing skills are stellar, but it’s her knowledge of the time that brings this story alive. Also, she understands how important it is not to just simply describe the ‘historical’ setting but, rather, have the characters interact with it in a natural and unobtrusive way. Many authors, who set a book in a different century, seem determined to describe every silver spoon and every woolen tunic. Thankfully, this author has not fallen into that trap.It is a longish novel but that’s okay. The twisting plot and ‘jump off the page’ characters, particularly Dragonetz and Estela, will soon draw you in. You will soon be immersed in a feudal world of political intrigue, bloody conflicts and even a scattering of romance. I would happily recommend this book to any reader of historical novels, particularly if ‘medieval’ is your thing. Should you read the other books in the set first? Probably. It works as a stand-alone novel but, if you really want to delve into this fascinating world the author has created, I’d start at Song at Dawn. Why rush it when it’s such a wonderful journey?