Divine Heretic

By Jaime Lee Moyer

Divine Heretic, a novel by Jaime Lee Moyer
Book details

Power is an interesting dynamic; some people want it, whilst others have no interest at all. Joan of Arc had a lot of power for a while but then it went (being burned at the stake will do that to you). Was she a heretic and a witch that craved this power, or was she someone caught up in events? Part of studying history is being able to reinterpret events and explore them from different angles. Jamie Lee Moyer suggests that Joan may have been a slave to her angels, or are they demons? 

Jeanne d’Arc was born into a perfectly normal life in rural France. Most of the villagers believed her destiny was to help her family of shepherds until one day getting married and starting her own family. From a very young age three powerful beings felt otherwise as Archangel Michael and his cohorts believe Jeanne to be the fabled Warrior Maid of Lorraine who is destined to rid France of the British. This is not the future that Jeanne wants but will she have any choice? 

The story of Joan of Arc is an interesting one to reinterpret as it incorporates elements of fantasy/religion even in its first retelling. Depending on your beliefs, the story suggests that angels spoke and guided Jean. Things do not come more supernatural than that. Moyer just continues this theme and suggests that perhaps Jean was not divinely inspired but instead manipulated and forced into the direction these entities wanted. 

Divine is a very personal story and it concentrates on the character of Jeanne and not the famous days of Joan of Arc. If you are expecting pages of battles between the French and British, you will be disappointed. Moyer is far more interested in how Jeanne’s personal angels/demons shape her life. The parts of the story that concentrate in her childhood and travels are given far more weight than the war years. In fact, the many victories that Joan of Arc was part of are covered in mere paragraphs. 

Therefore, it is the dynamic between Jeanne, the supernatural entities and her surroundings that dictate if the book works. I found the relationship between Jeanne and the Angels very interesting. There is a mistrust from the very beginning between the two. I liked the idea that Jeanne was never going to roll over and do as she has been told (foretold). This does make the book a little harrowing in places as the Angels sometimes blackmail or gaslight this poor woman. All this bullying his made worse as it is coming from within her own head. 

The other element is how Jeanne talks to others about what she can see. She is scared to talk about it, should people describe her as a witch, but when she does, they believe her. The French army are craving for the Maid of Lorraine to arrive and will grab at any chance they have. Even her nearest and dearest are willing to believe. This is because this is a France still steeped in the Pagan ideas as well as Christianity. Moyer does a wonderful job of making the idea of woodland folk and supernatural beings a known quantity at the time. That is not to say that Sprites are prancing around the clearings, but the peasant population certainly believe they remain hidden around them. 

A reader’s enjoyment of Divine will depend mostly on how much character development and introspection they like in their books. This is truly a character study of Jeanne d’Arc. You spend a lot time watching her wrestle with her conscience. The battles and major historic events are background to Jeanne and her close relationships. Some liberties have been taken with history but in most cases, Moyer sticks to what is believed to have happened and is able to evoke a sense of France at the time, especially in the smaller village setting. An interesting and different historic read.    

Written on 28th August 2020 by .

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