Minotaur, Jun 22 2010, $24.99
In November 1095, the Holy Father Pope Urban II declares that it is God’s will to liberate Jerusalem from the Turks. Across the Frankish realm, everyone prepares for war to remove the infidels from the Holy Land. In 1096 sixty year old Count Raymond of Toulouse leads the Provencal southern French Crusaders while other units come from Normandy (led by William’s son), Italy and Germany. They take different routes across Europe as they march towards Syria and ultimately Jerusalem. Knights like Hugh de Payens and Godefroi of St. Omer are among the contingent. In 1098, the battle of Antioch is successful with the discovery of the Holy Lance and one year later the battle of Jerusalem occurs.
Known for his Ancient Egypt and Chaucer mysteries, P.C. Doherty provides a strong historical tale that focuses on the First Crusade as seen mostly through the eyes of the faithful; especially the French perspective. None of the key cast members feel fully developed as the deep look at events overwhelm the players though ironically the least in historical terms (no mention even in the cast listing) Eleanor is probably the most developed with the horrors she witnesses that make her doubt that this is God’s intentions and what she believes drives her sibling to bring God’s intentions to the chaos of war. Mr. Doherty makes a strong case that war is hell even when you claim God on your side as Hugh and Godefroi believe when they later form the Templars.