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Jerusalem ()


One the hand, this is a reasonably exciting novel of political intrigue, religious devotion and forbidden romance set in the Holy Land in 1187.  Rannulf Fitzwilliam is a Knight Templar who has sworn off women and devoted his life to the service of Christ, specifically saving the city of Jerusalem from the predations of the Saracens under Saladin.  Landless but proud, Rannulf makes enemies easily, but also earns the devotion of the men who serve under him, earning the nickname Saint, which is applied both sarcastically and in admiration.  His vow of chastity is sorely tested when he falls in love with the haughty Princess Sibylla and his determination to preserve Jerusalem in Christian hands is threatened by Saladin's repeated attacks, by treachery among the Christian defenders and by weak leadership, including that of his beloved Sibylla.  All of this is handled quite well.

But on the other hand, the serendipitous interaction of this lowly warrior monk with the leading figures of the Crusades strains the bounds of credulity.  Even more unbelievable is the gratuitous sodomite subplot, which finds one of Rannulf's men engaged in a torrid affair with Saladin's son.  I'm not big on buggery anyway, but this relationship seems more than unlikely.

I'll give it a qualified recommendation, chiefly because of the strong characterization of Rannulf and Ms Holland's deftness at describing battles.

(Reviewed:)

Grade: (C)

  

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Historical Fiction
Book-related and General Links:
    -REVIEW: of  THE PALACE OF WISDOM By Bob Marshall-Andrews (Cecelia Holland, NY Times Book Review)
    -ESSAY: My Three Books  (Joan Wolf, TW Bookmarks)
    -ESSAY: Tony Miksak's   Words on Books:   What If?
    -REVIEW: of Jerusalem (Lauren Belfer, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Railroad Schemes  By Cecelia Holland (Paula Friedman, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of HOME GROUND By Cecelia Holland (Jane Larkin Crain, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: THE LORDS OF VAUMARTIN. By Cecelia Holland (EDNA STUMPF, NY Times Book Review)
    -ESSAY: Re-Thinking the Crusades (Jonathan Riley-Smith, First Things)

KNIGHTS TEMPLAR:
    -Encyclopaedia Britannica: Your search: "knights templar"
    -Grand Encampment of the Knights Templar of the United States of America
    -A History and Mythos of the Knights Templar -
    -European Knights Templar Heritage
    -The Poor Knights of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon or The Knights Templar
    -History of the great Order of the Temple
    -Knights Templar website
    -Knights Templar
    -Commandery of Antioch: A Living History Group devoted to the historical aspect of recreation and studies of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Crusade, the Holy Military Orders and Life as it was and/or could have been from 1100-1250 in Europe and Outremer

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