KING. POLITICIAN. WARRIOR. CONQUEROR.
1189. Richard the Lionheart’s long-awaited goal comes true as he is crowned King of England. Setting his own kingdom in order, he prepares to embark on a gruelling crusade to reclaim Jerusalem.
With him on every step of the journey is Ferdia, his loyal Irish follower. Together they travel from southern France to Italy, to the kingdom of Sicily and beyond.
Finally poised to sail to the Holy Land, Richard finds a bitter two-year-long siege awaiting him. And with it, the iconic Saracen leader responsible for the loss of Jerusalem, Saladin.
No one can agree who should fill the empty throne of the Kingdom of Jerusalem and Saladin’s huge army shadows Richard’s every move. Conditions are brutal, the temperatures boiling, and on the dusty field of Arsuf, the Lionheart and his soldiers face their ultimate test…
Crusader is a stunning historical epic. A historical epic that has riveting battle scenes, rip-roaring thumping action combined with the stories of legendary rulers and kings in a brutal yet one of the most famous eras of warfare. The Crusades. Ben Kane has done an outstanding job on the prose, the writing, the background, and the historical research. In many ways, the world of the Third Crusade comes alive. This is when Richard the Lionheart, King of England and ruler of many dukedoms, lead the third Crusade to take Jerusalem and defeat the Saracens, although the actual name, in reality, would be the Ayyubid Caliphate. The Third Crusade needs no actual spoilers: it was a legendary contest of two legendary rulers, Richard the Lionheart and Salah ad-Din (Or in our words which we know, he would be known as Saladin) trying to negotiate while trying to simultaneously attack each other. Brutality in this period is evident, and there is not much one can do about it but read on.
Ben Kane noted that many of the events in the book if you begin to study the Third Crusade, make for a Hollywood movie. There was one particular scene in history where Richard the Lionheart rode ahead to the Ayyubid encampment and shouted for anyone to challenge him. Ben Kane has produced this scene in such cinematic glory I have to commend him. He’s done a fabulous job on the historical research and the fruits of it are showing themselves when the world comes alive. Every character, major or minor, historical or not feels like a real world. Fantasy writers can take a cue from the worldbuilding because Ben Kane’s historical sources were plenty. Every three sources he found came from Christian sources, and every two came from Muslim sources of that time. Most of the events that happened in the Third Crusade were crazy. Things that would only belong in a Hollywood movie script. But it did happen as much as Ben Kane admitted.
This novel covers many historical events, and this is where I think the distinctions between the English and the French nobility begin to emerge along with the continuation of a rivalry where the English and French don’t trust each other. The French, according to the English viewpoint, was haughty and arrogant. To the French, the English under Richard the Lionheart went around looting and pillaging Sicily, Cyprus, and Acre. There is so much historical accuracy in this novel it oozes with it. I am impressed. This is a book that could easily have been a movie or a TV series. I enjoyed this. With regards to the criticism, some scenes did drag on, and I liked many of the characters which are too innumerable to name. Though I do say that Ferdia is having the time of his life in this novel along with Rhys. They are engaged in so many conflicts, so many battles, so many wars, it’s hilarious to think that the Third Crusade was bascially a gigantic boxing match. A lot of it could have been prevented. But of course, both Richard and Saladin faced domestic struggles in their courts which prevented them from fully facing each other in battle. Their rivalry reminded me of Hannibal and Scipio for that matter. And more or less, this is a book focused on Richard the Lionheart as much as it is focused on Ferdia acting as part of Richard’s retinue. You begin to see that Richard the Lionheart was a legendary King, a man that was born to be a legend. He is equal to Alexander, Achillies, Ceasar, Augustus in terms of wit, cunning, and strategy. His opponent, Saladin was equal to many of the great Generals of the Parthian Empire and many legendary Kings of his time. They were both larger than life, and I say this. Put Richard the Lionheart in any period, and he would have had men of many nations serving him. He was that charismatic.
The writing is fantastic. This is a stunning historical epic that you need to read. I would go into more detail but I think I’ll let the book do that for you. To produce such an amazing piece of work, to fully realize it, is astounding. I am in awe and this is a book you need to buy and read.