Pilgrim Footprints on the Sands of Time Focuses on Family’s Medieval Pilgrimage

Pilgrim Footprints on the Sands of TimeI love the new cover of Sylvia Nilsen’s Pilgrim Footprints on the Sands of Time! It’s beautiful and reminds me of all the historical angst of people who were conflicted spiritually or religiously, the culture and art of the past, and the drama of the journeys-both literally and figuratively-that people of the past embarked on.

Nilsen knows a lot about the pilgrimages of not only the 11oos, but throughout many times and places of history. Today, she leads people on tourist walks through Europe following the trails of the past that led people to restore or reinvent or seal their fates. Such a historical story is center stage in her fictional work focusing on the FitzUrse family, who had recently been a part of the murder of Thomas Becket.  His family must earn redemption by taking one of these trips to Spain.

The book is well-researched, has some intrigue, mystery, and drama and even a love story. The content is more of a dry type of work, as opposed to flowing and flowery. Different authors write history in different ways and this one lacks a little in beautiful imagery needed to hold readers of the historical fantasy novel genre’s attention. However, it is a solid read for many historical fiction readers who are enthralled by historical fact turned to fiction.

The journey to Compestelo de Santiago of this family is interesting, yet the book needs more development in regards to emotional connections to characters. The love story brings about some mystery in regards to a gypsy’s fortune-telling statement and adds a twist to the book, yet it didn’t make me pull out the tissues. I was propelled to keep reading to find out the resolution, however.

All that said, not every book needs to rip your heart out and tear it to bits, some books can just be a good, solid historical read. I’d say this was Pilgrims Footprints on the Sands of Time for me.  I really liked the subject matter, as I haven’t read much about it and am not an expert in the pilgrimages or their surrounding political and religious motivations. I’d like to read more both non-fiction and fiction on the subject and Nilsen’s book certainly confirmed this.

Nilsen writes a historically detailed book of a vast trip to save the souls of a family and creates a solid foundation for a story which informs and entertains us, yet lacks thrills and emotional connection that makes you burn through pages. As previously stated, both types of historical fiction may be enjoyed, depending on your taste at the moment.

Pilgrim Footprints on the Sands of TimePilgrim Footprints on the Sands of Time, Synopsis~

Publication Date: December 2, 2013
LightEye Editions
Paperback; 396p
ISBN-10: 2917183349

A few months after Richard FitzUrse and his fellow knights murder Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral, Lord Robert and Lady FitzUrse are instructed by King Henry to make a penitential pilgrimage to the tomb of Saint James the Greater in Spain in order to earn redemption for his disgraced family.

William Beaumont has made a promise to his dead mother and younger sister to go on a pilgrimage to save their souls. William is secretly in love with Alicia Bearham, niece of Lord Robert. He is overjoyed when he is asked to accompany the family and their servants on their three-month pilgrimage.

They face many adversities, dangers, and an attempted murder on the long and hazardous journey across England, France and Spain. Who is trying to kill Sir Robert and Alicia? What does the gypsy woman they meet in Paris mean when she predicts that Alicia and William are destined to be soul mates, but only when the eleventh flaming star returns to the skies and the water carrier rises over the horizon? One fateful night, a shocking event changes their lives forever.

Buy the Book

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Author Sylvia Nilsen, Biography~

Sylvia Nilsen AuthorSylvia Nilsen, well-known in the Camino world for her ‘amaWalker blog’ is a South African freelance writer who has been published in numerous local and international publications.

She has worked as a research agent and editor for a UK-based travel guide publisher and produced several African city and country guides.

Sylvia has walked over 5,000 km of pilgrimage trails in Europe including Paris to Spain, the Camino Frances from St Jean Pied de Port and Roncesvalles to Santiago, from Lourdes to Pamplona, el Ferrol to Santiago, Santiago to Finisterre and from Switzerland to Rome on the Via Francigena. She also walked from Durban to Cape Town as part of the ‘Breaking Free’ team in aid of abused women and children. Sylvia has served as a volunteer hospitalero in Spain and is a Spanish accredited hospitalero trainer having trained over 40 people to serve as volunteers in Spain. She was the Regional Co-ordinator for the Confraternity of St James in South Africa from 2003 to 2010.

In 2009 she started amaWalkers Camino (Pty) Ltd and takes small groups of pilgrims on three weeks walks of the Camino Frances in Spain.

For more information on Sylvia Nilsen please visit her website.  You can also find her on Facebook.

Link to Tour Page: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/pilgrimfootprintsonthesandsoftimetour
Tour Hashtag: #PilgrimFootprintsVirtualTour

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Filed under Book Reviews

3 responses to “Pilgrim Footprints on the Sands of Time Focuses on Family’s Medieval Pilgrimage

  1. Hallo Ms. Erin,

    I am not sure as what altered my ability to write clever titles for my blog posts, but I have yielded of late to using regular entitlements rather than the creative ones that I enjoy reading on your blog! I used to create those kinds myself, but then, somewhere along the way I abandoned the idea. Perhaps in time my creative titles will re-emerge! 🙂

    I have to admit, I appreciate the grace of historical fiction being flowing and graceful rather than tactful and factoid. I always like walking through a portal rather than consuming facts as though attending a lecture on the subject. There are times where I like reading for research, but generally if I were to pick up a book to read for the joy of it, I’d rather drink it in with the brush strokes of historical fiction bent on the illusion of history verse the broadness of its realism. I think this is why I prefer reading biographical fiction rather than straight-up biographies.

    I admit this is the first time I’ve seen pilgrimages presented as a casebook for saving the lineage of family verse exploring one individual’s religious conviction. It adds a new dimension to the discussion and subject. I appreciated your open honesty in how the book is presented and how unattached emotionally you were in the end. I think you were right to bring this forward, as I’d rather opt for a story where I felt more emotionally charged. Unless as foresaid, I was reading for academic purposes which makes that connection a mute point.


    • I don’t find this title very clever, but some I do!! I try hard. I’ve spent many many years in marketing, copyediting, etc. and so I try to really put people in with the titles. 🙂 Sometimes it is just too busy though, it takes a lot to run a book blog!

      She really did spend a lot of time writing her book and she did have a good story and lots of historical detail. It was so hard to explain in a review, but I know what many readers like and don’t like so I was trying to explain that. I don’t want readers to be unhappy so I have to be honest, even if it pains me. 🙂 I appreciate your comment very much. I am so busy that when I read I want books to MOVE me, make me feel, but I do like books I can learn from too. I enjoyed the book alright mostly, but I know some might not.


      • Yes, I agree that striking the balance between knowing what our reading audience will understand & accept as much as toying the line towards revealing our reading life as we see it unravel before us is the greatest difficulty as a book blogger. I tend to err on revealing my innermost thoughts per book as I read rather than always question if I revealed too much or too little. I try to simply give the impression I feel that is relevant to share, which is exactly what you do as well. 🙂 I think that is one reason I was attracted to reading your blog in the first place! I saw a bookish soul akin to my own!

        Ah, yes I too try to think in terms of marketing, esp since I sync’d my blog to Twitter! Sometimes I opt to ‘market’ the posts strictly through the tweets I share and keep the titles of my posts simple, but I admit, when I read a book outside of a blog tour I tend to get a bit more creative; a disconnect I think on my own behalf?!

        Ah, yes I totally understood where you were coming from,… I cherish each book that emotes and evokes emotions right out of my heart. I love being moved and stirred so evocatively to where I am sometimes shattered by it.


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