In The Black Rose novelist Thomas B. Costain takes readers back into the Dark Ages with a romantic tale that sweeps from England to China.
The bastard son of a Crusader, Walter of Gurnie hopes to make a fortune in the Far East so he can come back to England and be somebody.
The Black Rose by Thomas B. Costain
Doubleday, Doran, 1945. 403 pages. 1945 bestseller #5, 1946 bestseller #8. My grade: B-.
Walter gets caught up in the common people’s fight for justice against the nobles.
When their role becomes known, Walter and his sidekick, Tristram, skeedaddle.
Walter and Tristram hook up with a caravan led by Mongolian General Bayan of the Hundred Eyes. The party includes 81 girls being sent as a present to Kubla Khan.
Walter and Tristram help Maryam, a girl sired by a Crusader, to escape. Walter marries her.
The trio make a fortune in China.
Then the men get separated from Maryam and return without her to England.
The Black Rose would be worth reading just for its comparison of the cultures of West, Middle-East, and Far East in later 13th century.
Neither the characters nor the plot is believable, but Costain moves things along quickly so readers don’t have much time to notice. The result is an entertaining novel with some educational value slipped in.
© 2015 Linda Gorton Aragoni