“An expansive saga of early 17th Century Germany during the Catholic Counter-Reformation, The Thirty Years’ War, and the Witch Trials of Bamberg – one of the most destructive conflicts in human history. This exquisite narrative follows the travails of a kept farm maid, an alcoholic soldier on the run, and a sadistic Jesuit priest hellbent to rid the region from pestilence, famine and evil through tortuous and murderous forms of purification. Through the lives of these characters we experience the vermin-infested life on the farm replete with bedbugs, lice and fleas; the soldiers’ disease-ridden life on the march, and the zealot’s monastic life of prayer and inquisition. Written from the omniscient perspective of a credible researcher of history, the author pulls no punches in her vivid, sometimes purplish, depictions of plunder, torture, rape and murder, and she portrays the desperate plight of women and children trying to survive against the random vagaries of marauding armies, starving vagabonds, sweeping famine, incest, and the drunken forays of virtually every man in their cloistered lives. Glimpses of love, joy and hope are quickly trampled under the grind of survival, but like the sun, they rise again and again, as does the indomitable spirit and work ethic of the Germanic people. The primary characters’ lives have brutally collided in the past, and their trajectories propel them toward violent ruin. Who will survive? The history books will relate the choices of kings and pope, but if you want to know how their decisions were felt on the ground at the human level, read The Soldier’s Return.”
Review by author Douglas C. Gilbert
The year is 1626. A senseless war rips through parts of Germany. Ongoing animosity between the Catholics and the Protestants has turned into an excuse to destroy much of the landscape situated between France, Italy and Denmark. But religion only plays a minor role in this lucrative business of war.
The young dutchman, Pieter van Diemen, returns to Amsterdam in chains after a period of imprisonment in the Spice Islands. He manages to escape but must leave Amsterdam in a hurry. Soldiers are in demand in Germany and he decides to travel with a regiment until he can desert. His hope of survival is to reach Sichardtshof, the farm in Franconia, Germany; the farm he left ten years ago. His desire to seek refuge with them lies in his fond memories of the maid Katarina and her master, the humanist patrician Herr Tucher. But ten years is a long time and the farm has changed. Franconia is not only torn by war but falling victim to a church-driven witch hunt. The Jesuit priest, Ralf, has his sights set on Sichardtshof as well. Ralf believes that ridding the area of evil will be his saving grace. Can Pieter, Katarina and Herr Tucher unite to fight against a senseless war out of control?
Available in paperback and for kindle right here: mybook.to/SoldiersReturn