Comments on Pierre’s Fate in THE SWORDS OF FAITH June 4, 2012Posted by rwf1954 in books, books into movies, crusades, historical fiction, medieval period, Middle Ages, Richard the Lionheart, Richard Warren Field, Saladin, the crusades, The Swords of Faith, third crusade.
Tags: books, Crusades, medieval history, Outremer, Richard the Lionheart, Richard Warren Field, Saladin, The Swords of Faith, Third Crusade
I have gotten some static from readers about the fate of Pierre in my novel, The Swords of Faith (2010; Bronze Medal, 2011 Independent Publisher Book Awards; Finalist, USA Book News Award for Best Books of 2010/Historical Fiction Category; Finalist, International Book Awards, Best Books of 2011/Historical Fiction Category). Some readers have expressed annoyance with me as to why this likable character ended up the way he did. And since he is fictional, his fate was up to me, the creator of his story. Why did I have to subject him to the fate I chose for him? (How could I do such a thing!)
Before you read further, if you have not read The Swords of Faith, a caution—I’m going to try to be cagey about what actually happens to Pierre as I write this post, but, there will certainly be clues. So, this is a “spoiler alert”—if you think you will figure this out, read this post after you’ve finished reading The Swords of Faith.
So, on the fate of Pierre—a comment first. I waited until the epilogue. The events that got me in trouble with some readers take place, technically, after the main story is over. I give readers a chance to bask in the warmth of the ending they probably prefer before introducing the ending I believed was the only credible and honest ending possible. Pierre’s ultimate fate occurs in the epilogues (as well as the fates of Saladin, Richard the Lionheart, and Pierre’s son Dawud, setting up the sequel/follow-up, The Sultan and the Khan). So, please cut me a little slack, even if you remain upset with me after reading my justification.
Now, for the justification. The character of Pierre, and his interaction with Rashid, are a triumph of religious tolerance over religious fanaticism, a triumph of the idea that there is more than one path to God for people of good will. In their micro-story, Pierre and Rashid triumph and prosper because of their acceptance of these ideas. But their micro-story happens within the macro-story of the Crusades, a time of religious intolerance and fanaticism. Pierre’s fate—not just the event itself, but the full circumstances surrounding, including the person responsible for what happens to him—is an acknowledgment that though these men have become enlightened with ideas that could lead us all to spiritual harmony and peace, in their time and as well as ours, the world at large had not adopted these ideas. Even today, we still struggle with the forces of religious fanaticism opposing the dream of religious tolerance, though as a species, I would argue humanity has progressed. For me to allow Pierre to flourish in the glow of his relationship with Rashid without any apparent consideration of the swirling turbulence around them would be naïve, and would turn The Swords of Faith into a fairy tale. The Swords of Faith also ends with a truce between Richard the Lionheart and Saladin (true to history). But it was only a truce, and the bloody clashes of the Crusades were destined to go on for another century. Worse religious-based atrocities came after the Crusades. Religious clashes go on today. The story of Pierre and Rashid is a hope of what can be achieved when humans of good will, of different faiths, accept each other and their differing approaches to God. It is a story still waiting to be told everywhere, for all of us.
Other posts about The Swords of Faith:
(There is also the entire 820th anniversary series on the “Third Crusade.” The most recent post in this series was on May 23, 2012.)