Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Review: Pilgrim Footprints on the Sands of Time by Sylvia Nilsen

Pilgrim Footprints: On the Sands of Time

Sylvia Nilsen

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.

About the Author
Sylvia 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.

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My thoughts
I have always been intrigued by Thomas Becket.  Not only in his death, but in his life as well, his friendship with Henry II that turned to hatred after Beckett's apparent transformation from politician to devout churchman after his appointment as Archbishop thereby thwarting Henry's plan to have an Archbishop on his side and one he would control.  It was King Henry's thwarted plans for Beckett which fueled his rage and to voice the need to have "someone rid him of that meddlesome priest".  Whether King Henry meant those words literally or not four of his knights decided to do just that and journeyed to Canterbury where they murdered Beckett on the altar of the Cathedral. Pilgrim Footprints on the Sands of Time takes up the tale of those four knights and their families as they make a pilgrimage to Compestelo de Santiago in Spain to atone for the death of Beckett. 

I feel that Nilsen's Pilgrim Footprints in the Hands of Time filled a gap in the literature surrounding the story of Thomas Beckett and found the narrative seemed to embody the lackluster feelings of a pilgrimage undertaken without personal investment; in that these pilgrims were not motivated by faith, or the need to make a personal penance but were making the often arduous journey for political atonement and not for personal or religious reasons. 

Sylvia Nilsen's Pilgrim Footprints: On the Sands of Time is a thoroughly researched and well written account that contributes to the written discourse on the period despite being a work of fiction.  Pilgrim Footprints serves to remind any researcher of the period to not overlook the fate of the four men involved in the murder, but also provides a more realistic account of the arduousness of making a pilgrimage, and relates the angst of the pilgrims themselves,  in a way so many others authors have romanticized.

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The full tour schedule also follows.

Tour Hashtag: #PilgrimFootprintsVirtualTour

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, February 24

Spotlight & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection

Tuesday, February 25

Interview at Flashlight Commentary

Thursday, February 27

Spotlight & Giveaway at Kinx’s Book Nook

Friday, February 28

Guest Post at A Bookish Libraria

Monday, March 3

Review at A Chick Who Reads
Guest Post at Mina’s Bookshelf

Tuesday, March 4

Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

Wednesday, March 5

Thursday, March 6

Friday, March 7

Review at Reading the Ages

Monday, March 10

Review & Guest Post at Just One More Chapter

Tuesday, March 11

Wednesday, March 12

Review at Staircase Wit
Spotlight & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time

Thursday, March 13

Friday, March 14

Interview at Layered Pages

Monday, March 17

Review at Book Nerd

Tuesday, March 18

Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, March 19

Guest Post at Kelsey’s Book Corner

Thursday, March 20

Review at From L.A. to LA

Friday, March 21

Spotlight at Passages to the Past

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