Official Review: The Magdalene Malediction

Please use this forum to discuss historical fiction books. Common definitions define historical fiction as novels written at least 25-50 years after the book's setting.
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Official Review: The Magdalene Malediction

Post by kislany » 02 Apr 2019, 06:18

[Following is an official review of "The Magdalene Malediction" by F. Scott Kimmich.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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The Magdalene Malediction by F. Scott Kimmich is the third book in the Ordeal by Fire series about the Cathar Crusade period. The story is set in 1244, in the Midi of France, during a time when political intrigue abounded and nefarious schemes were common.

Miranda, Odon, Rainier, and Robin are friends fleeing from a mountain refuge captured by the French. They have in their possession ancient documents that prove Miranda is a descendant of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. The French can never find these scrolls, so the four friends are on the run. They are heading towards Provence, but they end up in Spain, where Miranda takes a fancy to the local wazir, Al Azraq, who has also fallen in love with her. When Miranda learns that he has several wives, she leaves him, and the four take to the road once again.

Even though it is part of a series, the book can be read as a standalone story. The main characters are well-developed. I had no idea whether they also featured in the previous two novels, but they had an air of innocence about them and a zest for life that made them come alive in front of my eyes. I could empathize with each, and when something was to befall them, I was genuinely sad. Unfortunately, those early medieval times were harsh, and bad things were lurking around every corner.

The book is only 200 pages long, but it is action-packed. The main heroes have non-stop adventures, some deadlier than others. To give us some respite, the author injected a few chapters describing the political situation surrounding King Jacme I of Aragon, who was always thirsty for the next military conquest. Since this is a historical fiction novel, I was often searching online for the names of the rulers to put them into historical context. For example, I only realized that Jacme was James I of Aragon when I searched for the name Jacme on Google. I only knew him as James I or Jacques I, The Conqueror.

F. Scott Kimmich also included philosophical discussions, which I welcomed. When the wazir wanted to learn more about the heretics, Odon had an excellent in-depth analysis of how the church viewed the heretics and why, and he explained that they were not necessarily bad. It depended on the context and the person’s ideology.

I only found one small issue with the book. When the four friends met a few French soldiers on the road, there were several paragraphs with French dialogue, with no translations into English. A short footnote with the translations would have helped me figure out what they were talking about, as my French knowledge is limited.

The writing style fits that time period well. The author was not shy about using colloquial language befitting the era, like the words “methinks,” and “mayhap.” I only noticed a few grammatical errors, so the book was properly edited. I enjoyed reading it, so despite the translation issue, I give it 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend The Magdalene Malediction to medieval history lovers with a caveat: it includes graphic descriptions of rape and torture.

The Magdalene Malediction
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Post by kdstrack » 05 Apr 2019, 08:37

The excellent writing and the story line make me want to read this whole series. Thanks for the excellent recommendation.

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Post by Juliana_Isabella » 05 Apr 2019, 08:51

This sounds like an interesting read. I hope potential readers aren't turned away by the religious (or controversially non-religious) aspects of the story.

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Post by Prisallen » 05 Apr 2019, 09:29

I like that it is a standalone story and a good way to learn about medieval history in a painless way. Good deview!

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Post by DogoMulla » 05 Apr 2019, 09:46

This one seems like an interesting read. Make that captivating. A mixture of friendship, ancient scrolls and adventure... I like your detailed review. Good job!

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Post by Crazyreader01 » 05 Apr 2019, 11:14

Wow, interesting storyline. I don't know whether to love it or hate it.

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Post by chiefsimplex » 05 Apr 2019, 13:55

Well, the premise of this story is disturbing. However, I like the adventure and the action alright.Thanks for a great review.
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Post by Radiant3 » 05 Apr 2019, 14:14

The plot seems pretty intricate and emotionally moving but well-written. Thanks for the great review.
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Post by reneelu1998 » 05 Apr 2019, 17:34

thank you so much for this review. and thank you for mentioning the graphic descriptions of rape and torture because for some readers (like me) that really turns people off of reading a book they otherwise wouldn't be aware is too much for them. I really liked your summary of the book. Keep it up!
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Post by gen_g » 06 Apr 2019, 02:35

This sounds like such a fascinating read! I love historical fiction, and since I'm not very familiar with the time of James I of Aragon, this is certainly a good place to start. Thanks for the lovely review!

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Post by kandscreeley » 06 Apr 2019, 06:50

Sounds like a fairly interesting story. It's nice that it can be read as a stand alone. The French dialogue with no translation would be annoying, but it seems small. Thanks for the review.
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Post by Lungz_ » 06 Apr 2019, 08:36

Interesting story line.sounds like an interesting read .thank you for the review.

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Post by Miriam Molina » 06 Apr 2019, 17:59

It seems the author is a fan of Dan Brown and has Brown's gift for writing forget-about-sleep action. I do enjoy the Brown books (as fiction, of course), so I expect a good time with this piece. I do wish the French would be translated, as my knowledge of French is limited to fries, bread, and that kiss (not necessarily by virtue of experience).

Kudos for the exciting review!

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Post by Michgal 32 » 08 Apr 2019, 11:01

I am no fun of historical fiction but this book has got me curious. The story line sounds very interesting.

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Post by MercAngiGaggyMilan » 08 Apr 2019, 14:24

Synopsis of the book is excellent. Your overview in detail and thoroughly well written and explained well. I am tempted to read the book. I think one can take quite a bit from it, historical, romance, religious, suspense, thrilling reading material. Thank you for sharing a glimpse into the book.

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