This doorstop volume is something like a hipper, sexier version of the medieval novels of Sir Walter Scott. Its protagonist is a troubadour and Cathar sympathizer who goes on crusade to Egypt with Louis IX. Shea is best known for his co-authorship of the 1970s conspiracy romp Illuminatus!, and there are hints here of a great benevolent conspiracy, but the foreground is occupied by malicious conspiracies against the hero and the throne of France.
The pacing of the book is fast, covering six years at the middle of the thirteenth century, and the plot is engaging. The narrative style is pretty transparent, never getting in the way of the story. The historical elements are well-researched and credible. I enjoyed this read a great deal, and I would recommend it to fans of chivalry and/or heresy.
I read a withdrawn library copy in pocket paperback format. The thirty-year-old book was already well worn when I started reading it, and had literally gone to pieces when I finished. All Things Are Lights is out of print, but it has been published online by the author’s estate under a creative commons license. Although not flagged as a sequel, there is a two-volume novel called The Saracen which features the son of the hero of All Things Are Lights. The Saracen is available for free download at Project Gutenberg, and I may eventually read it also. [via]