In the first volume of his saga Damned, Herbé Gagnon takes us to the south of 13th century Francee century of the Albigensian crusade. In the chaos and horror of conflict, a man damned by his sins is entrusted with a divine quest, the ultimate hope of redemption for his soul.
A tale between history and esotericism
Gondemar, the only son heir to the seigneury of Rossal, was born veiled. They say he is cursed. Suffering all his childhood from this destiny given to him and which he does not understand, he finally decides to accept it and to surrender body and soul to evil. Cruel and violent, he does not hesitate to commit unspeakable acts that lead him straight to hell. He is however given a second chance. Risen, Gondemar can still save his soul, provided he carries out the obscure divine mission entrusted to him: to find and protect the "Truth." He then took the road to the south of France, thus joining the Albigensian crusade, the justification of which by the Pope seemed to hide an unspeakable secret. So in search of this "Truth", our hero will undertake a very perilous quest leading him in the footsteps of the Cathars but also of the Templars while he always appears to be pursued and haunted by his terrible past that he cannot forget.
The question of the backdrop
Herbé Gagnon has a certain knowledge of the medieval period. It is without any difficulty that he plunges us into a dark and violent medieval atmosphere. The historical backdrop proves to be fascinating, serving with talent the plot of the novel, whether it is the daily life of a small seigneury or the Cathar heresy and the Albigensian crusade which resulted from it. As the author himself puts it, his desire was to weave a fictitious plot on historical facts. And the two fit together perfectly to our delight.
The only problem is that this historical backdrop sometimes turns out to be really wrong. It is really a shame to find the whole range of classic clichés on the Middle Ages, for example the non-existent right of thigh mentioned several times during the story. The palm undoubtedly goes to what touches the crusade of the Albigensians allowing to castigate obscurantism and religious fanaticism. We are thinking in particular of the chapters devoted to the Béziers massacre, the events of which are only yet another perversion of historical reality. Let's get on well, we are in the realm of fiction, taking liberties with history could not be more normal, especially when we switch to the genre of fantasy. However, it becomes much more embarrassing when we get the impression that we are reading a prosecution speech based on historically very questionable or even false facts when they are claimed to be true by the author.
We must therefore take this first volume for what it is: a gripping historical-esoteric thriller in which the historical facts mentioned appear far removed from the supposed truth. We will therefore think of the quote from Alexandre Dumas: "It is permissible to violate history, on condition that you give it a child. ". Here is a damned child whose path to redemption we rejoice in.
Herbé Gagnon, Damné, Tome 1 L’héritage des cathares, Hugo Roman, Paris, 2012.