God’s Kingdom: A Novel

This is a novel I started working on. I had to press the pause button on it because of life’s circumstances, and also because I’ve decided to write a contemporary novel set in Covid times. But it is still on my heart to write this novel and I fully intend to get back to writing it someday soon.

What God’s Kingdom is About

In 1164, German lord Johannes mortgages the Baron of Saar — his barony — to an older cousin so that he, his second wife Bernadine and step-son Wilfred can begin their lives anew in the Holy Land.  Johannes’s deepest desire is to fulfill his vows to God and to his deceased former wife, something he wasn’t able to do during the ill-fated Second Crusade.  But like any nobleman, he wants Wilfred to marry a daughter of a Frankish knight so that they can gain a foothold in the Holy Land.

Wilfred’s only desires in life are to carry on Siegfried’s – his real father’s – legacy as a fearless and valiant knight and marry a woman he loves.  The Holy Land offers him that very chance, something Wilfred eagerly anticipates, but there is one condition: Wilfred must prove himself a capable swordsman before he is granted permission to marry a Frankish knight’s daughter.

Years before, Bernadine’s heart is shattered when the Baron Johannes tells her about her husband Siegfried’s death the day he returns from their campaign in northern Italy.  Soon after, she finds out that her older brother had died thus making her the heir to her father’s barony which is nearly a half day’s journey north of Saar.  Her sudden elevation in status makes her eligible to marry the baron Johannes.  Johannes had been Siegfried’s good friend and he would be a good father to Wilfred, thus making him the ideal husband, but Bernadine’s marriage to Johannes anything but blissful.  Her resentment towards him causes her to make a mistake that nearly costs her her marriage, but also her reputation.

They hope for and have faith that life in the Kingdom of Jerusalem will be one of healing, faith and military valor, but once they arrive there, they encounter far greater challenges than the ones they already face.  Salah-ad-Din has united the Islamic armies with only one goal in mind: to drive the Christians to the sea.  So, their defense of the Kingdom of Jerusalem becomes a fight of survival and a test of faith.

A Short Snippet

June 1155

            Wilfred wandered down the steep road that led from the castle into the village of Saar.  He was on his weekly mission to buy bread, butter, fruit and vegetables for him and his mother.   Every time he returned, he clambered up the spiral staircase to the top of the highest tower and kept watch for his father, the baron Johannes, Sir Raimond and all of the other knights who had joined them on their mission to Lombardy.  But all he saw were the hills and the vast vineyards which had been landscaped into them by the Romans a great many years ago.  Every time, Wilfred returned to his mother’s living quarters, crestfallen.

            His mother never questioned his tardiness as she often worked long hours assisting Dietmar, a cousin to the baron Johannes, oversee the servants and garrison of men-at-arms in their daily duties.  Until one day, Dietmar caught Wilfred at the tower.  After giving him a gentle but firm lecture on all the horrible things that happened to boys when they were devious, Dietmar escorted him back to his living quarters.  But Wilfred didn’t fear his mother’s wrath because she never shouted at him.  She too missed his father desperately and pined for the day when she saw him again.

            The next week, though, she went with him into the village.  As they wound through the market, Wilfred thought he heard the sound of a horse whinnying in the distance, beyond the bridge.  He stopped, looked towards the bridge and listened hard.  He heard the sound of horses’ hooves even above the noisy chatter of villagers.

            An older peasant man walking past scowled at him.

            “What are you doing, boy?”

            Wilfred looked at him excitedly.  “Did you hear that?”

            The man grunted and walked on.

            Wilfred raced towards the bridge.  His mother called after him, but he didn’t stop.  By the time he reached the other side of the bridge, the sound of hooves grew louder and Wilfred could make out men’s voices.  He turned to see his mother catch up, out of breath, barely clutching onto their food basket and visibly annoyed.

            “Wilfred, what on earth has gotten into you!”

“They’re back, Mother!  Father’s back,” he screamed.

            A look of bewilderment donned her face. 

            “Father is back!  He’s back!  Can’t you hear the horses’ hooves and the men’s voices?  It’s them!”

            As they stared down the road, they saw the men.  The flags, bearing the barony of Saar’s emblem, the black eagle on a red and gold backdrop, were unmistakable.  Though it didn’t take Wilfred long to notice that Sir Raimond rode at the head of the troops beside Johannes.  Where was his father? 

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