In this tale of the Middle Ages, Rider Haggard has given us a picture in his vivid and striking way of the days when feudalism was in the land and every man held his life and love in the strength of his sword arm.
hat had been theirs to love or hate, and, their task done, turned to the banks of the mighty river and watched.
Down the broad street which ran between the fantastic houses advanced a procession toward the brown, ice-flecked river. First marched a company of priests clad in black robes, and carrying on poles lanterns of black paper, lighted, although the sun still shone. Behind marched another company of priests clad in white robes, and bearing white lanterns, also lighted. But at these none looked, nor did they listen to the dirges that they sang, for all eyes were fixed upon him who filled the centre space and upon his two companions.
The first companion was a lovely woman, jewel-hung, wearing false flowers in her streaming hair, and beneath her bared breasts a kirtle of white silk. Life and love embodied in radiance and beauty, she danced in front, looking about her with alluring eyes, and scattering petals of dead roses from a basket which she bore. Different was the second companion, who stalk
A readable yarn of warriors, kings, and Scythians set amid plagues and invasions. There's a Christian mystic element pervading all, even the semi-demonic force that starts the tale (and has barely any necessity to the plot.) All over Europe, our trio of adventurers escape insurmountable odds - from giant armies to a hostile Venezia. (honestly, H. Rider's distaste for Romance culture and Catholicism is palpable in those passages.) The ending is disappointing, however, and the muscle of the trio is an indestructible Munchkin.