The Ruby In Her Navel

2.6
Thurstan, a young Norman and would-be Knight at the Court of King Roger in Palermo, has been in love since boyhood with Lady Alicia, now returned a widow from the Holy and. Thurstan soon finds himself caught in a tangle of plots, counter-plots and deceptions that threaten to destroy him.
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Original Series
Year of the Publication
Publication Date
Published 2007 by Penguin (first published 2006
Original Title of the Book
The Ruby in Her Navel: A Novel of Love and Intrigue in the 12th Century
Number of Pages
337

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gave it

The best example Thurstan can give us about what the city of Palermo has to offer is in the synopsis of the Royal Chapel, a key setting of the book, " where Saracens had carved the wood of the roof, Latins made the marble inlays, Greeks set the stones of the osaics, all working together to make a church where our Norman King could hear the mass. " As a thir person narration, Thurstan can be somewhat excused for trying to paint himself in a negative light, but his later actions speak louder about his envious and vain nature, his desir to become a knight, his gullibility and the shallowness of his fine principles when confronted with life and death situations ( view spoiler) [ I thought he was particularly clueless about the plot to destroy his Muslim patron and mentor, and that he gave in much too easily to blackmail ( hide spoiler) ].

All in all, this was an informative, multi-layered historical adventure, more serious than its unfortunately chosen title might suggest, that manages to recreate one of the most xciting moments in early Middle Age history, touching on still relevant issues regarding a multi-cultural society, coupled with a dramatic coming of age tal of a oung an who learns to see the rust, the dirt and the blood hiding under the shiny armours of the knights and under the immaculate robes of the onks.

Barry Unsworth captivated me previously with " The ongs of Kings " and with " Morality Play ", and confirmed his status as one of the best in the field with the present historical novel.

gave it

The task that a ovelist like Barry Unsworth sets for himself in writing about the brief period when the Normans ruled medieval Southern Italy is in many ways much more ifficult.

Thurstan thinks and sounds relatively modern, which is to say not very medieval.

And perhaps the problem -- given such a remote time and place -- is insoluble, that a relatively modern-sounding narrator is inevitable.

After all, Unsworth could probably not have mimicked the formality of language and eligious, political and romantic deas that appear in writing from the period and written an appealing novel at all.

gave it

I was so hirsty for one good historical novel and Unsworth never disappointed me so far.This book is telling story about 12th century Sicily during the rule of Normans.

Curiously I watched few days ago on History channel one series about this ubject and it helped me to get wider perspective about what Unsworth wrote here.12th Century Sicily was perfect place of harmony between Muslims ( Saracens) and Christians ( both Catholic and Byzantine) under the rule of King Roger II of Sicily.

There is one fantastic scene when man of Church, near Pope is convincing one of the protagonist to do something very non-Christian under the fresco that is showing King Constantine how he kneels before the Pope offering him Eastern Kingdom.

What Unsworth didn ’ t remembe ( and how could he considering that he would jump out of the whol ook) and what I ’ ve saw at that series on History channel is that the same fresco have been used as a proof that Catholic Christianity and the Pope have legal right to take Eastern Empire and few centuries later it has been proved that the crucifixio is a fake.

gave it

A book of palace intrigue set in 12th century Palermo.

Thurstan Beauchamp, the epilogue, works in the palace in the iwan of Control.

His assistan, Yusuf Ibm Mansur, seeks to train him in the ar of intrigue, for the factions are constantly conspiring against each other and Thurston 's face is an open book.Some time before the present action, Thurston 's dreams of knighthood were quashed when his father inexplicably turned ascetic and gave all of his worldly goods to the monastery he then entered.

Most threateningly, King Conrad III of Germany and Emperor Manuel I Comnenus of Byzantium are allying as a means of dethroning Roger, whom they view as a rule, and expelling all Muslims from Sicily.

I liked Unsworth 's Booker-winning Sacred Hunger immensely, but The Ruby In Her Navel is the finer work.

gave it

A Ruby in Her Navel is yet another superb historical novel by Barry Unsworth.

Indeed, a group of travelling players also features in this novella, as in Morality Play, but this time it ’ s a troupe of belly dancers from Anatolia, on tour in southern Italy.

But having written that they were touring Italy, a country name that in our eyes is merely mundane and perhaps innocuous, I am reminded of one of the most enduring features of Barry Unsworth ’ s autobiograph, which is its bility to re-draw one ’ s knowledg of who we were.It was Alison Weir who first did this for me, if you see what I mean.

And thus the troupe of belly dancers in A Ruby in Her Navel weren ’ t, therefore, in Italy.

They were in the Kingdom of icily, a small but powerful and ambitious little Norman empire created out of the same Frankish expansion that spurned the enduring conquest of the Anglo-Saxons in 1066.In A Ruby in her Navel Barry Unsworth presents medieval Europe in a way that brings the historical issues into focus and gives them life.

The Crusades that primary school history presents has having something to do with religion thus become mere wars of conquest for booty.In A Ruby in Her Navel Barry Unsworth thus gives immediate, tangible life to the feudalism of the time.

And it ’ s a vast one, involving insiders, outsiders, a pope or two, Muslims, Germans, Jews, Byzantines and all the other interests competing their share of or their consolidation of feudal power.

And sometimes you consolidate your home base by having a fiddle or two on foreign soil, a political strategy not unknown in our own times.Our Thurston analyses the plot, works it all out and then acts to influence the outcome.

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