The trouble I had while reading the novel was that the time period was never very clear--the characters were well-drawn and fleshed out, especially the villains--but I could not really tell that France was torn by religious civil war. The action of the novel is so domestic and insular that the Wars of Religion faded to the background. It also troubled me that the crucial event of the novel, the one action that set all the complications of the family into motion and led to the central conflict of the plot, was reported at second hand. It was a scene that merited a first-hand description in my opinion. The novel was so focused on the interior life of the characters that historical and fictional events were all at a remove. I always expect fiction to show me action, to describe and depict events. Michael Kent focuses so much on the thoughts and internal struggles of the hero and heroine, and to lesser extent, the villains of the story, that it's more of a meditation than a novel.
The subjects of its meditation, the monastic vocation, marriage, the priesthood, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Eucharist, are all worthy of the detail and care the author takes. As a novel, I'd have to give it three stars; as a religious meditation and exploration of good and evil, I'd gift it four stars.