Behold the Dawn is a historical novel set during the crusades. It is the story of Marcus Annan, whose life is consumed soley by the bloodthirsty (and morally dubious) sport of tourneying. We learn very quickly that there is much more to this man than we realise. He has a dark past that he has been running from for a very long time. On the surface, Marcus seems a very unlikely hero for this story, and yet as the reader you immediately bond with him, you root for him and want to find out more about him.
The story takes Marcus to the Holy Land where he must begin to confront his past. Against the backdrop of the historic battles, Marcus’s embarks on a journey, as he promises to escort a recently widowed noblewoman to a convent in France where she will be safe from the enemeies that are seeking her life.
There is a lot about this story that could have descended into cliche. We have the hero with a mysterious past, the faithful side-kick, the female lead who becomes a potential love interest, and the hypocritical bishop who serves as one of the primary villains – and yet there is no cliche in site. Everything is fresh. K.M. Weiland makes this distant time and place come alive in a very real way. The characters are well-rounded and fascinating.
Woven into all of this is a theme of redemption and grace. Marcus’s journey is one where he must learn to accept forgiveness, and move on from the past he thinks he must hide from.
It is fitting that this story takes place during the crusades. Ultimately, the sins and mistakes that Marcus is hiding from are similar to those mistakes being made by the crusaders. In a time of great hypocrisy and evil, Marcus learns what it truly means to call oneself a ‘Christian’.