"The human race alone is capable of injustice.  Human beings alone are capable of disobeying God's laws, because they try to be wiser than God."  ~Hildegard of Bingen, Scivas 1.2.29

Books

Information that would be considered essential by a modern reader is missing from the writings about Hildegard and her own story told in her autobiography, The Vita.   For instance, nowhere is it recorded the date she was born or the place.  Such omissions are common, for writings about such prominent women in history were stereotypical and given more of a spiritual interpretation.  This series of novels takes place between the time of Hildegard's enclosure at Disibodenberg and before Jutta's death in 1136.  According to the writings of her biographer Godfrey, young Hildegard during this time, went "from virtue to virtue" and "the tranquillity of her heart was demonstrated in modest silence and economical speech".

Disibodenberg exists today in ruins, but at the time of the story it literally and figuratively lay at a crossroads.  The novel introduces readers to a young Hildegard of Bingen, who later in life became a remarkable author, visionary, healer, scholar, advisor, and musician.  A simple Google search on her will yield over 905,000 relevant hits!  There's a growing resurgence in the literature about her life and music, but to date, the vast majority of it has been written for an academic audience.  This novelization of Hildegard's younger life is meant to remedy this, drawing attentions to the fact that women were capable of great things in a time when their lives and accomplishments were overshadowed by the darkest times of feudal authority and patriarchial dominance in the church.

The First Crusade:

​The Crusades were any of the military expeditions which Christians undertook from the end of the 11th century to the end of the 13th century to recover the Holy Land from the Moslems.  Hildegard and Volmar were born at the time of the First Crusade.  In their young lives they witnessed the incongruence of the teachings of the church and its actions in these campaigns driven more by power and greed instead of holy fervor.



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The Seer and The Scribe Series

Awarded 2011 Moonbeam Silver Medal in Religion and Spirituality Category for Young Adults.

Book One:  Spear of Destiny

 

Nine hundred years ago Hildegard of Bingen, a seer of medieval Germany, and her young scribe, Volmar, promise a dead monk eternal rest in consecrated ground.  Their humble pledge to seek justice for a decade-old murder plunges the two unlikeliest of amateur sleuths into a sinister plot of shameless greed.  



The plot begins to unravel as two  knights of the secret crusading order of Hospitaller, come to the monastery at Disibodenberg on the trail of a mysterious gentleman who possesses one of Christendom's holiest relics. 

 

When the sublime peace of the monastery is shattered and cries of suicide follow the ringing bells of Matins, Hildegard and Volmar strengthen their resolve to stop Death's stroll through Disibodenberg.  By merging their natural intelligence, curiosity and logic, these two ask the questions that illuminate the hypocrisy of this dark era and in doing so, enlighten the reader about our own uncertain times and the stench which greed leaves behind.





The Seer and The Scribe Time Travel Adventure to the 12th Century

Discussion Guide:  The Seer and The Scribe, Spear of Destiny

 

 



Book Two:  Lost Book of Noah

 

In the quiet chill of a wintry dawn in medieval Germany, Hildegard, a seer, is troubled by ominous signs gathering in the dim and snowy light.  A dire warning fastened to the limb of a pigeon comes to the monastery of Disibodenberg.  It foretells of a plotting nobleman and his fanatical obsession with the ancient Book of Noah, a powerful relic guarded for countless generations by a mysterious Jewish sect, the Essenes.

 

Volmar, Hildegard’s trusted scribe, and the librarian Cormac flee Mainz after finding the dead body of a stranger with irrefutable ties to the brotherhood of the Knights Hospitallers of Jerusalem.  As more fragmented clues unravel, Hildegard and Volmar are plunged into separate investigations unearthing a seething plot to stir up another brutal uprising against the beleaguered Jews of the region.  

 

From Leper’s Island to a haunted monastery, Volmar and Hildegard once again face the specter of Death.   Wrestling with prophecy and forbidden love, the two sleuths forcefully challenge the powerful and the greedy with clear reason and stalwart faith.

Reviews:

"The author strews her tale with generous measures of intrigue, sudden violence, poison, evidence to decipher, secrets waiting to be revealed, specters either holy (in Hildegard's case) or otherwise and figures and incidents drawn from history . . . A sturdy kickoff with a distinctly different duo of detectives."

~Kirkus Reviews



"Move over Brother Cadfael--there's a new sleuth in town, younger and just as smart. Throw in a medieval mystic who sees visions and talks to dead people, a couple of murders, a villain worthy of Darth Vader, lots of well-placed sensory detail and interesting secondary characters and The Seer and the Scribe: Spear of Destiny is a perfect book to launch a series.  This is an historical tale skillfully delivered, evoking rather than lecturing about the fascinating history it explores and leaving the reader wanting more."

~Brenda Rickman Vantrease, author of The Heretic's Wife.


"Dyrek draws readers into the world of medieval monastic life with a keen knowledge of the era and an eye for compelling characters.  Opening the book will feel like stepping back into a long ago world of mystery, murder, and faith."

~A. LaFaye, award-winning author of Worth.



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Book Trailer

Characters

Hildegard

[b. 1098; d. 17 September 1179]

Several years ago, I happened to stumble upon Hildegard's name while researching for a graduate course.  I can remember feeling annoyed for not knowing of this woman's extraordinary accomplishments, especially in my youth, when I, like most young women, was searching for just such a role model.   Here was proof, contradicting history's biased assumptions of historical women's mediocrity.  Hildegard of Bingen, like Leonardo da Vinci, spent a lifetime following her curiosity.  Guided by "the Living Light", she was led by a social conscience and a need to express in her writings, her drawings, her music, her ministrations to the sick, a lifetime commitment to her faith.  Her legacy is timeless and one I wanted to share with others.

John William Waterhouse, "The Flower Picker" Public Domain

Volmar

[b. ?; d. 1173]

History records very little of Volmar's life; he is known as Hildegard's life-long trusted friend, confidant, and scribe.  Far too often, history ignores the "enablers" or those magnanimous individuals who, through their own noble lives, offer the necessary encouragement and support for a creative spirit to awaken and prosper.  If Hildegard's strength is her faith, I fictionized Volmar's strength (and ironically his weakness) to be his mind.  Reason often rebels against artificial restrictions; and yet, Volmar lives out his entire life in a monastery which thrives on rituals and discipline.  So, it is this contradiction which stirs up our own youthful rebellious natures and lends, I think, a sympathetic and dynamic voice to the story.

St. Francis Xavier, by Bartolome Esteban Murillo, Public Domain

 Jutta

[b. 1092, d. 22 December 1136]

My commitment to Jutta, like Hildegard, also has come with an overwhelming responsibility to give truth to this fictionalized interpretation of her life and her amazing accomplishments.  Her personality must have been strong, so strong in fact, that history records that regardless of the objections of powerful people in her life, she gets her way!  I, myself, am not so confident, nor assertive; so it is this quality I admire in her and realized that Hildegard too, must have respected.  History records that while Jutta was very beautiful, she was also a difficult personality to live with, obstinate, humorless and apparently self-destructive.  To Jutta, life was to be lived soberly and suffering was its only reward.  Her choice to be an anchoress, to dwell on the boundaries between life and death, was radical in any century.  

St Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) as a Young Woman (detail) by François Gerard (1827), Public Domain

 Sophie

[Character based on Author's Imagination]

Sophie, with the eyes of an old woman in a young girl's face, and hands calloused from hard work, is a strong female character who thinks well on her feet and makes responsible decisions.  We come to know her through her sufferings.  Her survival depends on her own ingenuity, which I believe mirrors most youth of this century.  Like Volmar, she is an orphan and finds her home at the monastery of Disibodenberg with the other imperfect people.

Alexei Harlamov "A Russian Beauty" 1840-1925, Public Domain

Brother Paulus, Infirmarian

[Character based on Author's Imagination]

As the Infirmarian, Paulus knows he is waging a losing war against Death.  It is his personal affliction and one that makes his character more sympathetic, despite his austere bearing.  His white mane of long hair, indistinguishable from his flowing beard, makes him appear in the sunlight like a fierce territorial lion protecting his pride.   He's a man of scientific rigor in a world of superstitions.

George Frederic Watts, "Self-Portrait", 1879, Public Domain

Abbot Burchard

[d. 3 March 1113]

While Volmar unsuccessfully reaches for God with his cold intellect, and Hildegard connects with God with her yielding faith,  Abbot Burchard finds solace in his relationship with God that merges both approaches.  The Abbot brings together the  disparate contradictions, by seemingly accepting the potential for evil and good, knowing that it can be a toss-up as to which side wins in the end.  His steady, thoughtful and provocative choices throughout the story lend a voice of reason and balance to an unreasonable time.

"St. Thomas Aquinas, by Botticelli, 1481, Public Domain

Wolfe, the Magistrate

[Character based on Author's Imagination]

Human history is full of evil deeds and so we have the need to depend on those with unyielding backs and even stronger personalities, to oversee the boundaries between chaos and civilized discourse.   Wolfe is just such a guardian, granting order to the confusion.  When he confesses to the Abbot the secret vice of his youth, we catch a glimpse of the mighty oak bending like a willow; his character becomes more vulnerable, more human.

"Bruno Scardeoni antiquario, Lugano Giovanni Carianni, c 1500, Public Domain

Brother Johannes

[Character based on Author's Imagination]

Deformed since birth and left on the Porter's doorstep, Brother Johannes represents the kindness of one, who despite being on the receiving end of undeserved cruelty, overcomes the appeal of vengeance.   Through his caring spirit, he demonstrates to young Volmar the strength inherent in being unselfish.

Robert Campin, c. 1375-1444, Public Domain

Brother Cormac, the Librarian

[Character based on Author's Imagination]

Cormac is socially inept; but mentally, he is on fire.  His eccentric nature is perfectly suited for his reclusive work as the librarian at Disibodenberg.  The old monk reserves all of his obsessions for his collection and the few who admire it.   It is a shallow, materialistic existence.
 

Leon Bonnat, 1885, "Portrait of an Artist" Public Domain.