Book Review: “Alina: A Song for the Telling” by Malve von Hassell

Alina de Florac wants to be a musician. No big deal, right?

Except the year is 1172. Smack dab in the middle of the Middle Ages. You know—the Crusades, kings and queens, journeys and jousts and fair maidens and all that jazz.

 Alina’s instrument is the lute and she has been taught by the best—her father—who shared his love of music with his eldest daughter.

But getting to be a trobairitz (that’s a lady troubadour) is no walk in the park for a fourteen-year-old girl whose parents are newly dead and whose family manor is in a shambles. It takes both status and money to be accepted into a court as a trobairitz: Alina has neither.

When her snooty Uncle Garsanc and Aunt Marci take over the manor, Alina has had enough. So what do she and her brother, Milos, do?

Join a caravan to Jerusalem, that’s what.

Their excuse is to make a pilgrimage to pray for their father’s soul, but Alina’s biggest motivation is escaping Aunt Marci’s determination to marry her off and force her into the oppressive role of a proper wife.

Alina and Milos make the journey with Count Baltasar de Aurignac, several Templars, and a host of other travelers. But Alina worries about Milos. He is immature and unmotivated, he gambles too much, he drinks too much. And he gets himself into a pickle that is witnessed by Count Raymond, a close friend to Amalric, the King of Jerusalem.

The Count blackmails Alina into spying. Milos manages to become a squire for Stephen, Count of Sancerre who is vying for the hand of Sibylla, King Amalrac’s daughter.

Is your head spinning yet?

There are twists and turns galore, a murderer, a betrayal, and lots of intrigue. Alina’s story ends with her and Milos on another adventure.

Maybe a sequel is coming? In the meantime, you’ll want to get your hands on this book. It’s a great read.

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