This is a definite time-travel novel. Not that the characters travel backwards through time – they are already there. It is the reader who travels via the pages of this tale - back to twelfth century Britain, where legends abound and knights wander the countryside on quests to earn land and honor.
Aislinn of Amberlea lives close to what’s left of Glastonbury Abbey. She is much involved in its rebuilding after it was almost totally destroyed by a terrible fire. Aislinn’s uncle was the Abbot until his death, and she herself continues to live on Church land, even though widowed many years before (if you have a teenage daughter, just think what it must have been like for a fifteen year old to be married!! And you thought loud music was a problem!!)
Sir Stephen Fitzhugh, world-weary knight, is given one more challenge by the Earl of Essex – find the Holy Grail. Stephen’s response is not pretty! He has no time for legends and fairy tales, having learned that life is much more likely to take everything he loves away from him than reward him for setting out on a hunt for a mythological chalice!
Of course, Aislinn, whose religious commitment and faith are strong, and Stephen, whose religious commitment and faith are non-existent, are destined for each other! And this is where this story comes alive and draws the reader into the convoluted mess of plots, plans and betrayals that surround Stephen and Aislinn. Their growing desire for each other is obvious – Stephen’s shock when Aislinn admits that he’s not the only one who is feeling that way is delightful. When they finally succumb – it’s magic! An ideally matched couple, Aislinn’s intelligence and faith are a perfect complement to Stephen’s cynicism and worldliness. She believes in him – he’s afraid to admit he loves her.
How these two resolve their dilemma and continue to brave the dangers inherent in a search for the Grail makes this a vivid tale of a time long gone – it will take you a while to draw your thoughts back from King Richard’s England, and to recover your senses from the spell that Ms. Garnett has cast! A lovely story – an absolute must-read for historical fans, and a highly recommended for anyone who enjoys a love story backed by a strong and enticing plot!