Monday, October 15, 2012

Review: Troubadour - Mary Hoffman

Troubadour by Mary Hoffman
Genre: YA, historical fiction
Published on August 18, 2009
Published by Bloomsbury
Pages: 304
Read From: 10.2.12 - 10.4.12
Final Rating: 4/5 strawberries










SYNOPSIS
When a young noblewoman named Elinor learns that she's to marry a much older man, she flees her comfortable home for the hard life of a troubadour. It's not just escape that appeals to Elinor. She's also got her eye on kind, handsome Bertran, another wandering poet whom she sets out to find. 
But terrible events are building in the south of France. When crusaders sweep through the country, destroying all those who do not follow their religion, Elinor must go into hiding. Betran, meanwhile, risks his life to warn others of the invasion. Danger encircles them both as the rising tide of bloodshed threatens the fabric of the society in which they live.

Review

Cover Blurb: Like the seriousness of it - the red sky, the crumbling castle. Don't like that it stares at me, even though the girl looks how I imagine Elinor.

What I Liked: While Elinor didn't make a huge impression on me as a protagonist, she wasn't annoying, and she was a convincing tomboy. I loved the premise of the story. Here's where I had trouble:

What I Disliked: The way the story was written, it didn't give me much of an opportunity to know Elinor and Bertran. While I did get to know Bertran better than Elinor, he still felt like a distant character. The Author saturates her story in historical detail, and I like that, but in doing so, she seemed to neglect her characters, and that disappointed me, because I felt a lot of potential in them.

Believability: As I said up above, the Author saturates her story in historical detail, and it ends with a truly fascinating historical note in the back. My one complaint is: the Author makes all Believers (Cathars) out to be completely good people. That's one of the things I liked about K. M. Grant's Perfect Fire Trilogy - she portrayed the good and bad of both the Catholics and Cathars. She took a very rounded approach to her portrayals, and I liked it. She didn't completely demonize one side and completely victimize the other; she did equal parts. And while Mary Hoffman didn't completely demonize the Catholics, either, she did rather make Cathars out to be rather saintly.

Writing Style: It's good, though it lacked protagonist emotion, which kept me from knowing the characters. It read a bit more like a simplified history book than it did a novel. The scattering of Occitanian words also annoyed me at times. While the Author used them in a manner that conveyed what they meant, I hated not knowing how to pronounce them, and while the Author provides a glossary, there is no pronunciation guide.

Content: None.

Conclusion: This wasn't my favorite Mary Hoffman book. I felt disconnected from the characters. I have to say that I prefer K. M. Grant's Perfect Fire Trilogy. We Readers got to know Raimon and Yolanda very well, while still seeing the horrors of the conquest of the Occitan. But I have to give Mary Hoffman an extra star for historical detail, because it definitely didn't lack that.

Recommended Audience: Historical fiction fans, girl-and-guy read, any age.

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