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The Moor (Book I of the Crusader Trilogy) by Reina Donovan is a short novella set in a little Christian kingdom named Mordo somewhere in medieval Europe. The Moors have extended their domain right up to the northern ranges of the Iberian Peninsula. Medieval Spain has been continually plundered for centuries by them. The king of Mordo's daughter, Gabriela, has the conviction that she had been born to join the Crusades, called by the Pope to kill anyone who dared to slur Christians and Christianity. One day, Gabriela departs silently from her father's castle, to elope with her lover, and join the Crusades against the Moors with him. Her lover does not appear for the tryst, and she carries on alone into the forest. I liked the way the author created an eerie aura and narrated how Gabriela faces life threatening dangers.

Reina Donovan skillfully introduces a twist into the story. An orphan of Moorish descent named Haroun has been sheltered by an innkeeper, where he works at menial jobs in return for food and shelter. One day, young Haroun leaps into a fray at the inn by instinct and saves Sancho, a seemingly mild customer, from being killed by a ruffian. His life changes from that moment and he follows Sancho, who becomes Haroun's father figure. Sancho guides the young Haroun on a different path, fraught with danger, which enthralls the reader as the events unfold. The tale of why and how Haroun meets Gabriela, accosts her, and the amazing twists of fate that follow make The Moor (Book I of the Crusader Trilogy) an attractive tale full of emotion and adventure. The protagonists are strong and original, imbued with realistic traits. The flow of the story is steady. Keeping in view that this is a short novella, the author has certainly developed it well with incisive descriptions and background. The cover is well made with an aura of mystery, inviting a look inside. This little book gripped me so that after reading it, I gave it a second read to study the style of this excellent author.