Reviewed by Charles Remington for Readers' Favorite
Part one of the Windflower Saga, a series currently totaling fifteen books by Aleksandra Layland is titled Ansgar: The Struggle of a People, The Triumph of the Heart. Set ‘In a time not now and a world not of our own…,’ to quote the author, the world nevertheless strongly resembles medieval Europe with the denizens being human in appearance, manner and outlook. The narrative opens with Duke Ansgar of the Southlands enduring a violent storm at sea, which eventually leads to the wrecking of his ship and his subsequent rescue by fishermen. Taken to a monastery for treatment, he is so badly injured that it takes months for him to recover. But the time is not wasted; his long recuperation gives him the leisure to reflect and ponder on the important things in life - reflections which eventually lead him to become a lay brother. From this point, he will eschew the flamboyant clothing of a duke and wear only the robes of a monk. Further, he will strive to maintain and practice the principles of his religion for the benefit of his people.
When he is at last fit enough to travel again, he resumes the journey he had previously begun to the southern wastelands of his dukedom in search of a small colony of folk called the Kimbrii. Ansgar is the fourth and youngest son of the king and has no expectations with respect to the throne. His dukedom has come to him as his birthright and he is determined to seek out all the people in it. After a perilous journey through the wastelands of the region, he is again injured but rescued by a dazzlingly beautiful woman who seems to him like an angel. The narrative follows Ansgar as he discovers the rapidly diminishing population he seeks, learning their ways and discovering many injustices brought about by ancient laws. We follow his life as he falls in love, marries and sets about putting his dukedom and later the whole nation in order, how he is blessed with a large family and how his children join in the struggle to bring peace, justice and equality to the land.
The subtitle of this book, The Struggle of a People, The Triumph of The Heart, probably gives a very good idea of what it is about. There are many parallels to be drawn about the treatment of indigenous people on our own planet and they will not be lost on readers. The narrative also provides sufficient romantic interludes and ‘triumphs of the heart’ to balance the story line. Aleksandra Layland has crafted an intricate, finely detailed narrative, creating a medieval world peopled with solid, believable characters. I am pleased to have discovered her work and will certainly read the stories that follow. A welcome addition to the genre, and fans of fantasy with a historical slant will not be disappointed.