The Middle Ages and Anglo-Saxon history has always amazed me and therefore I enjoy picking up any historical novel that surrounds the ravishing dramatic era of history. Previously, I didn’t locate as many Charlemagne era books as I’d have liked, but they seem to be trickling to the shelves.
Sebastian’s Way, by George Steger, was far from just a military account of conquests and battles of the medieval era of Charlemagne. It’s a novel of dramatic perplexities of characters and of politics, even of love. Sebastian, a young man of good heart and intelligence, speaks out in the hopes of making progress, even if speaking out to the King can be considered treason. A brutal, but forgiving King Charlemagne continues to seek out from advisors a way to make peace after so much blood and strife.
Sebastian is young, but not a violent warrior. He self-educates himself and offers advice with gentle, but learned voice. Charlemagne admires this in him, as well as many of the court ladies who swoon when he is around. Sebastian’s true heart must be held close to his chest though and in this, Steger’s novel becomes full-fledged epic drama as forbidden romance swelters throughout the plot.
Action and adventure abounds in this novel, as well as political machinations. Steger takes on the full gamut of emotional struggles within Sebastian with well-developed characterization and well-written scenes. As much as I thought this book could end up being text-book historically detailed and a book for men who enjoy military and battle reading, it totally ending up in a different direction. From the beginning, I felt a stake in Sebastian’s character and that emotional connection with the protagonist is what will propel the reader quickly through the book. He gave us a dramatic story along the lines of the medieval Kings we devour in fantasy reads, but yet with a more accurate and historical perspective.
A coming-of-age novel, Sebastian’s Way allowed me to follow Sebastian throughout his growth to maturity and respect. As he battles within himself the lines between what is right or wrong, erring to stand-up for his beliefs, the book becomes suspenseful and explosive. His emotional turmoil, heroic acts, and chivalrous character carried the novel and made me turn the pages deep into the night. This would be a great addition to anyone’s historical novel shelf. I give it high praise for characterization, historical research, superb plot points, and dramatic prose, highly recommending it to anyone who loves novels of the middle ages. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series!
Sebastian’s Way, Synopsis~
In a dark age of unending war and violence, one young warrior opposes a mighty king to forge a new path to peace…
During the savage Frankish-Saxon wars, the moving force of his age, Karl der Grosse, King Charlemagne, fights and rules like the pagan enemies he seeks to conquer. But in the long shadow of war and genocide, a spark of enlightenment grows, and the king turns to learned men to help him lead his empire to prosperity.
One of these men is the unlikely young warrior Sebastian. Raised in an isolated fortress on the wild Saxon border, Sebastian balances his time in the training yard with hours teaching himself to read, seeking answers to the great mysteries of life during an age when such pastimes were scorned by fighting men. Sebastian’s unique combination of skills endears him to Charlemagne and to the ladies of the king’s court, though the only woman to hold his heart is forbidden to him. As the king determines to surround himself with men who can both fight and think beyond the fighting, Sebastian becomes one of the privileged few to hold the king’s ear.
But the favor of the king does not come without a cost. As Charlemagne’s vassals grapple for power, there are some who will do anything to see Sebastian fall from grace, including his ruthless cousin Konrad, whose hatred and jealousy threaten to destroy everything Sebastian holds dear. And as Sebastian increasingly finds himself at odds with the king’s brutal methods of domination and vengeance, his ingrained sense of honor and integrity lead him to the edge of treason, perilously pitting himself against the most powerful man of his age.
This fast-paced adventure story brings Charlemagne’s realm to life as the vicious Christian-pagan wars of the eighth century decide the fate of Europe. Filled with action, intrigue, and romance, Sebastian’s Way is a riveting and colorful recreation of the world of Europe’s greatest medieval monarch.
Author George Steger, Biography~
A native of Louisiana, the author followed a long tradition of young men from the Deep South by seeking to improve his prospects in the military. From a green second lieutenant in the famed 101st Airborne Division to battalion command in Vietnam, Colonel Steger spent most of the rest of his military career in four European tours as an intelligence officer and Russian foreign area specialist, working on both sides of the Iron Curtain during the Cold War.
He traded sword for plowshare in a second career in academia and is now Professor Emeritus of history and international affairs at the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth, Kansas. The motivation to write Sebastian’s Way came from his experiences in both war and peace, from fourteen years in Germany and Eastern Europe, and from his love of teaching medieval and other European history courses.
Steger is an avid hiker and trail biker, and much of the story of Sebastian came out of time spent in the woods and fields of eastern Kansas. In memory of Mary Jo, his wife of many years, he and filmmaker son Ben spent a recent summer trekking across Spain on The Camino de Santiago, one of Europe’s oldest pilgrimage trails. He lives and writes in rural Kansas and has four other grown and gifted children.
Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/sebastianswaytour
Tour Hashtag: #SebastiansWayTour