Dutton, Aug 2007, $25.95
By 1274, the years of war that has devastated much of the Middle East especially the Holy Land appears over. A shaky peace has finally come to weary people mostly because of the Herculean efforts of the Brethren. However, one of the Brethren Will Campbell fears their cause has been betrayed from within and that hostilities will break out unless the traitor Prince Edward is stopped from meeting his pledge to the Pope that the Cross will soon control Jerusalem. However, Will remains unaware that European war profiteers have found their profits gone since peace has descended on the land; so to stir up business they plan a scheme to use Edward as a foolish tool to erupt the Muslin world into a Jihad against the European infidels.
In Egypt, Sultan Baybars’ heir Baraka has turned a deaf ear towards his fathe; who left him with his mother until he was old enough to train as a warrior and then left him with a tutor. Now he ignores his offspring even more since his closest friend died saving his life. Instead Baraka heeds the guidance of soothsayer Khadir who tells him his dad is going to leave him a destroyed kingdom unless he acts. Baybars believes he must fight the powerful Mongol horde while Khadir insists that is not only suicide, but it is the Christians who are the real enemy. A new wave of crusades seems imminent with Will and some of his Brethren peers the only hope to prevent another region wide conflation that could easily spread across the Mediterranean.
The middle book of this superior historical fiction trilogy (see BRETHREN) is a terrific entry as the late thirteenth century Middle East seems on the verge of another Crusade unless Will and his peers can pull off several miracles. The fast-paced story line effortlessly moves back and forth between the subplots and the key cast members are fully developed so that the audience obtains a taste of the medieval age especially in Jerusalem and Cairo in AD 1276.