Promise of the Black Monks
Born of nobility in France in the year 1066, the fate of seven-year-old TRISTAN DE SAINT-GERMAIN is thrown to the winds upon the execution of his father for treason against William the Conqueror of Normandy. Then, abandoned by his mother who remarries and departs for England, Tristan and his four-year-old brother find themselves thrown into the monastic world of the Benedictine Black Monks of Cluny, France. Under the tutelage of GRAND PRIOR ODO DE LAGERY, who one day will ascend to the very pinnacle of power within the Catholic Church in Rome, Tristan develops into an academic and linguistic prodigy by the age of twelve and becomes known as the Promise of the Black Monks.
Tristan’s unusual talents become useful to the Benedictines as well as to Rome, and the boy soon finds himself pulled into the visceral power struggle between POPE GREGORY VII and EMPEROR HEINRICH IV as they mercilessly wage spiritual, political and military war upon each other to claim supremacy over the continent of Europe.
Despite attempts by the Benedictines to turn him into one of their own, Tristan’s primary aspiration is to reunite with his mother and thereby reclaim his noble status by the age of eighteen upon completion of his studies at Cluny and Rome. Then, too, there is also a young Romani girl who he continues to encounter unexpectedly during his journey into manhood. This beautiful and exotic gypsy girl from Spain known as MALA, though from an entirely different background, shares Tristan’s sense of dispossession and uncertainly about the future. From the innocence and purity of childhood friendship, she becomes a haunting reminder to Tristan that there may be more to life than following the path of the holy men who surround him.
GRAND PRIOR ODO DE LAGERY, however, quietly pulls Tristan into the agenda of the Black Monks by directing the gifted boy’s energies and talents onto the grand stage of continental power and politics. Tristan unsuspectingly becomes involved in international intrigue and conflict involving such majestic figures of 11th Century history as Pope Gregory VII, Emperor Heinrich IV of Germany, PETER THE HERMIT, LA GRAN CONTESSA MATHILDA OF TUSCANY and the GREAT ABBOT HUGH OF SEMUR.
At the forefront of Tristan’s mind throughout his years of monastic development, however, is the absence of his beloved and beautiful Danish mother, ASTA. Desolated by his belief that she abandoned him and his young brother simply so she could more easily remarry LORD DESMOND DULAC, the wealthy brother of her executed husband, Tristan struggles to erase her memory, but discovers that his hopes of finding her again will not dissolve. Then one day he learns of a letter in the possession of Grand Prior Odo, who has now become a Cardinal-Bishop of Rome, that exposes the complexity and inevitability of her abandonment of her two beloved sons. She had no choice.
As Tristan finally turns eighteen, amid the first stirrings of talk within the Church of a Holy Crusade against the Moslems to reclaim the Holy Land, the great influences of his life collide as Cardinal Odo, Mala the Gypsy, and his mother, Asta, struggle to determine his destiny.
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Robert E. Hirsch, who has experienced his own adversities concerning racial stigmas and Catholic doctrine, writes with distinct accuracy of the walled façade individuals construct to insulate themselves against others and the terrors of life no less formidable than those constructed by powerful and established institutions. Contrition, his first novel (JournalStone, 2012) explores the dark underside of the conscience; that infected and decaying region of our past existence that draws each of us back to the pillories of punishment time and time again.
Hirsch received his undergraduate degree from Cameron University and began teaching history and French, then earned his Master’s Degree at the University of Southern Mississippi and Doctoral Degree from Nova Southeastern University of Miami/Ft. Lauderdale,
Robert Hirsch is a long-time resident of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Promise of the Black Monks (2016), and its sequels, Hammer of God (2016), Horde of Fools (2017), God’s Scarlet Fury (2017) and the final is yet to be announced, have been acquired and are being published by Argus Publishing A-Argus@live.com www.robertehirsch.com . Represented by Loiacono Literary Agency, Jeanie Loiacono www.loiaconoliteraryagency.com