Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Sharpe Books
Pub date: 16 December 2019
The crusader army still stands outside Antioch. Starving. Deserting.
An enemy force, led by Kerbogha of Mosul, is days away from relieving the walled city.
Bohemond of Taranto calls upon the English knight, Edward Kemp, to meet with an agent, who is willing to provide the Norman prince with access to Antioch.
But Bohemond is not alone in wishing to capture and lay claim to the prize. Edward must contend with enemies in his own camp.
Should the knight’s mission fail, then so may the entire campaign.
Antioch must fall.
Recently I’ve been reading books that are outside my usual genre of Tudor and Plantagenet history. This is one of those of books and is the first in a series about the First Crusade.
We are introduced to Thomas Devin, a young scholar eager to join the crusade to see Jerusalem and Edward Kemp, a Knight who’s only wish is to survive another battle.
Both are completely different people but their friendship becomes one of great loyalty as they begin to understand each other. I really liked these two characters and how their attitudes and friendship changed during the story. Edward becomes protective of the young Thomas whilst Thomas begins to understand Edward and hopes to instill religious beliefs. Both of these characters were engaging along with Owen, the bowman.
As they both prepare for the siege of Antioch they are fighting for different reasons but the same overall purpose, however, it may not just be inside Antioch that they face enemies.
As the first in the series this book introduces the main individuals and builds a picture of the events leading to the crusade and the siege of Antioch.
The story contains some great fighting scenes and comradeship.
As to their plan he launched his blade at the enemy on the right, as Owen appeared out behind him, like a thief or avenging angel. Pull. Loose. The recently sharpened arrowhead pierced through the guard’s leather jerkin – and burst his heart – as if it were made of gossamer.
This isn’t just a story about fighting it also highlights the experiences of the those who joined the crusade, whether as pilgrims or combatants in search of wealth and the hardships they experienced during the siege of Antioch. I could almost imagine sitting in the unbearable heat with no access to regular nourishment, wondering what fate will bring and will Antioch succumb before the army of Kerbogha arrives?
The landscape was bone-dry, sucked clean of any beauty or nourishment. It was no longer the land of milk and honey, if indeed it ever had been. The silhouettes of the trees in the distance appeared like giant thorns.
For me, this book has given me an interest in these events and I’ll be reading the next in the series, Besieged. It’s a fantastic depiction of the First Crusade based on real events woven with fiction, memorable characters and vivid portrayals of battle and circumstances.
The end note provides further reading which I’m also going to be taking a look at.
Thank you to Richard Foreman for waking an interest in me. I’ve said before one of the reasons I enjoy historical fiction is because I’m always learning and here is another book that’s helped me to do so.
Siege is available here: Amazon UK or you can get books 1 and 2 here: Amazon UK
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