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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 27 December 2007
I'm a huge fan of historical fiction and this is one of my favourite novels, on par with MISTS OF AVALON and PILLARS OF THE EARTH, if not in scope (this one is only 500 pages long) then in literary experience.

Set in 13th century France, DAUGHTERS OF THE GRAIL (also known as CHILDREN OF DESTINY) tells the story of the Cathar faith, a spiritual movement of Christian origins that opposed the corruption, violence and materialism of the Catholic Church. As the Cathar movements gains momentum, the Catholic leaders organize a bloody crusade (now known as the Albigensian Crusade) to wipe out all "heretics".

Bridget, a powerful healer and psychic descended from Mary Magdalene, is at the heart of the story. Her role is to carry the on the spiritual blood lineage (the Holy Grail) and pass on her healing talents, while evading persecution by the Catholic Church. Other characters include Luke, a Templar Knight, Raoul, a noble Cathar sympathizer, Claire, his wife, Friar Bernard an over-zealous Catholic and Simon de Monford, the vicious crusade leader. All characters are intertwined in a delicious web of drama and adventure, sprinkled with a few romantic sub-plots.

On her website, Chadwick describes how she uses social re-enactment to immerse herself in a specific period of history - this is evident in her writing. The descriptions are so vivid, the characters so believable and the details so engrossing, you forget you are reading fiction.

I heartily recommend this book!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 30 January 2007
This is really one of the best books I have ever read. It's not Gone With the Wind or the Far Pavilions, but it's pretty darn close. So much of the historical fiction I read is centered in England, Scotland and Wales, and I enjoyed reading about this period in history in southern France and about a religion I knew nothing about (having not yet read The DaVinci Code).

This was an exciting tale of Cathars, Knights Templar, evil evil priests, Bridget and her daughter Magda - descended from Mary Magdelene, all battling the Roman Catholic Church that is bent on destroying them, and finishes with a heart-stopping page turning, can't put it down until it's done finish. It always astounds me the evil that men will do in the name of "god", and that it continues to this day.

I had found this book used in the US last year, and the first time I read it I knew nothing about Simon DeMontfort (the second) and what he tried to accomplish for England before his tragic end. Although I know the part he plays in this novel, with his bastard half brother Dominic, is just a story, it was nice to see some glimpses of him in a minor role as a young boy and then a young man. To learn more about this incredible man, please read Sharon Kay Penman's Welsh Trilogy, Here be Dragons, Falls the Shadow and The Reckoning.

I am always amazed at how this author so effortlessly sucks you into another century with her descriptions of the sights, sounds, food, clothes and battles of another time. Highly highly recommended, and well worth the cost of shipping from the UK.
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on 22 December 2012
Another spectacular novel by Elizabeth Chadwick, whose lengthy series of books on medieval England is truly outstanding, containing such depth and detail within. This beautiful book is about religious contention and rivalry amongst those within the church and those within court; whose ambitions lead to catastrophic changes. The author skillfully blends authentic period details with modern convention to produce such emotional drama, which is both intense and powerfully stirring. The historical detail within this book is exquisite, thus producing such atmosphere and realism within the narrative. The characters are totally beguiling, within a most intriguing and enjoyable storyline that fascinates one throughout. I would like to ask that you prepare yourself to be dazzled by this historical masterpiece that evokes its genre perfectly, as a great representation of the medieval era. Convincing and compelling you will be swept away by the conflict, the shocking drama and the glittering details to our past that add a touch of nostalgia to a reminiscent, evocative narrative.

Thirteenth-century France: Bridget has grown up mastering the mystical gifts of her ancestor Mary Magdalene, whose unbroken female lineage has kept the legacy of wisdom alive for thousands of years. But the all-powerful Catholic Church has sworn to destroy Bridget for using her healing talents and supernatural abilities.
Bridget's duty to continue the bloodline leads her into the arms of Raoul de Montvallant - a Catholic. But when the Church's savage religious intolerance causes Raoul to turn rebel, a terrible vengeance is executed by Simon de Montfort, the unstoppable Catholic leader...

As a fan of historical fiction and works such as `The Pillars of the Earth' and `World without end' by Ken Follett, that both contain references to the church, I was naturally intrigued to read this book. I personally feel that the past is brought to life more vividly when the storyline is based upon the power of the church and in particular the Catholic Church, that for so many years held such sway over the ruling of monarchs and the governing of such a great nation. It was a time of selfish ambition, of conflict and disagreement within the church, of harsh ruling and betrayal. Reading from around the time of King Henry VIII and backwards to the Thirteenth-century, within this great timeline is such change and revolution that it is something I greatly enjoy discovering through literature. There was still animosity against `magic' and the unexplained, such as Witchcraft or supernatural abilities that went against the Catholic ruling - hence as an example for the character Bridget.

This is such a fascinating, interesting read and one that will certainly appeal to those who not only enjoy this genre but who are also interested in the Church. The writing is just spectacular and this is a series that I urge you to discover, for books by Elizabeth Chadwick do really take your breath away!
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on 17 November 2003
From the back cover: "Thirteenth-century France. Bridget has grown up mastering the mystical gifts of her ancestor, Mary Magdalene, whose unbroken female lineage has kept a legacy of wisdom alive for a thousand years. But the all-powerful Catholic church has sworn to destroy Bridget for using her healing talents and supernatural abilities.
Bridget's duty to continue the bloodline leads her into the arms of Raoul de Montvallant-a Catholic. But when the Church's savage religious intolerance causes Raoul to turn rebel, a terrible vengeance is exacted by Simon de Montfort, the unstoppable Catholic leader of a crusade against peaceful "heretics."
As the war rages on, it is the children of these passionate souls, Magda and Dominic, who must strive to preserve the ancient knowledge for future generations-and find the love and courage to endure..."
This is a highly engaging and exciting read! I'm not usually one for anything even remotely related to a French storyline, but this book is definitely an exception! It is an out-of-print title but I found a copy on the internet quite easily. READ IT, YOU WON'T BE SORRY YOU DID!
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on 31 March 2007
I completely agree this is an excellent book BUT - be aware if you are thinking this seems familiar and you own CHILDREN of DESTINY (published 1993) by Elizabeth Chadwick, it is actually the same book.

I was disappointed to find out I'd actually bought a book I already own.
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on 4 November 2007
Daughters of the Grail is a very well written book, it just wasn't my cup of tea. I've rewarded the marks not on how much I enjoyed this but more for how good a story it was and how well it was put together. I was engrossed at the start of this book but I rapidly discovered (as I have with other novels) that being set so far into the past is something I just can't get away with reading.

The characters are evocative and the descriptive narrative lends itself to an imaginative world. The novel is set in thirteenth-century France where Bridget has learned to master the gifts bestowed upon her from the ancestor, Mary Magdalene. The unbroken female lineage has allowed for her magical wisdom to remain alive. The Catholic Church at the time was against `witchcraft' and sought to kill those using the healing talents passed down generation to generation.

The story at the start shows us Bridget as a younger girl just at the time of her mother's death (this is not a spoiler, it happens within the first chapter). We then move through her life and finally the end of the novel is at the end of Bridget's life time. It is compelling to read and the characters are so beautifully depicted, it just sadly wasn't one for me. The quest Bridget undertakes to continue the bloodline leads her through and into some terrible times and it is where we are introduced to Raoul de Montvallant who for Bridget is what Mr Darcy is to Elizabeth Bennet. The relationship is sparky and exciting but Raoul is wed to Claire (this again is not a spoiler as it happens in Chapter 2).a beautiful girl, portrayed so vividly by fabulous narrative. Life is not kind to anyone in the novel but love, honour, justice and truth prevails in this piece of convincing historical fiction.
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on 11 October 2012
This is the sort of novel I think you will either love or hate, no inbetweens. Set in 13thC France it tells the tale of Briget and her daughter Magda ( said to be a descendant of Mary Magdalene) and their battle with the Roman Catholic Church who are against their claims to be healers, psychics and spiritual leaders. Its quite heavy in parts reminding me of DV Code but the author has such a deft hand at descriptive prose you can almost feel you are there: the battle scenes, the costumes, sights, sounds, smells it all adds to the making of this story. I thought it was fantastic and would recommend it highly. Elizabeth Chadwick at her best so go on, give it a try!
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on 28 April 2013
The gripping tale of the Cathars and of Bridget & Magda. I loved this tale and found it hard to put down as Simon De Montfort and the Catholic church inflicted their ideals on these peoples of southern France. This tale is a wonderful depiction of a great injustice of medieval times
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on 14 June 2009
Set in France in the early 13th century, Daughters of the Grail (previously published as Children of Destiny) features the Albigensian Crusade against the Cathar heresy. Bridget, while not a Cathar, is a healer who is wanted for heresy nonetheless. Her story is intertwined with that of Raoul de Montvallant, a Cathar sympathizer. The story continues in the next generation with Magda and Dominic.

I'd studied the Cathars in school, but it's been a while, so I was glad for the opportunity to have my memory refreshed. While I didn't enjoy Daughters of the Grail as much as I've enjoyed some of Chadwick's other novels (her earlier books are heavier on the romance than the history), I did enjoy the story, especially in the second half of the book, when Magda and Dominic's stories took over. There is, however, great character development, and this novel is well-researched, as Chadwick's books always are. I wasn't too keen on all the "visions" that the characters kept having, and had a hard time keeping track of that was real and what wasn't. On the other hand, Chadwick's descriptions are excellent, and the scenes at the end are so horrifyingly real that you feel as though you're actually there watching it all happen. For more on the Cathar heresy, read the first two pages of the author's note at the end before reading this book.
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on 13 August 2014
I greatly enjoyed this novel. It was a wonderful mix of historical fiction and mystical legend and the two were blended together so expertly that I sensed no division between them. Historical figures rub shoulders with fictional characters and together they have been woven into a brilliant story that will keep you intrigued throughout.
Set in the thirteenth century in the Languedoc, the cosmopolitan south of France, this is the story of Bridget, ancestor to both Mary Magdalene and the Virgin Mary, she is the 'sacred feminine' herself. Bridget travels with her uncle, a Cathar Perfecti, sharing her gift of healing with those who need it.
The Cathars were a widely persecuted people during this century, with the Catholic Church considering them heretics of the worse order and calling for their ultimate destruction. Thus a crusade is born and the lords of Northern France join forces to crush not only the Cathars but the people who are tolerant of them--those who most conveniently happen to be their wealthy southern neighbors.
One of the best parts of this novel is the diversity of the characters and how they are inextricably linked throughout. Their lives are woven like a tapestry, the threads crossing at certain intervals as if fate has decreed it so. Ms. Chadwick has done a wonderful job of portraying this. It does not seem forced at all, rather there is a sense of destiny throughout that is leading the characters down their rightful path.
Such a fascinating novel, I've read nothing like it. Yes there are some crossover aspects between this and some of the theory behind Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" but not enough for the novels to seem at all familiar to each other. This novel will transport you back to the Albigensian Crusade and you will feel as though you are there; living and breathing alongside these incredible characters.
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