“Within minutes of the end of the carnage, the Crusaders flocked to the Holy Sepulcher to give thanks for their deliverance. Heaving from their exertions, dripping in their sweat and the still-warm blood of their victims, they knelt in prayer.
We turned away; whichever God they were praying to, it was not our God.”
A monk and a priest visit a lost English prince in hiding, Edgar the Atheling who aided William the Conqueror’s son, Roger. He tells them the story of England after the first Crusade and the Norman Conquest, he tells them his story so that the history of the Anglo-Saxons won’t be lost:
“1072, England is firmly under the heel of its new Norman rulers. The few survivors of the English resistance look to Edgar the Atheling, the rightful heir to the English throne, to overthrow William the Conqueror. Years of intrigue and vicious civil war follow, which will see brother against brother, family against family, friend against friend.
In the face of chaos and death, Edgar and his allies form a secret brotherhood, pledging to fight for justice and freedom wherever they are denied. But soon they are called to fight for an even greater cause: the plight of the Holy Land. Embarking on the epic First Crusade to recapture Jerusalem, together they will participate in some of the cruellest battles the world has ever known-the savage Siege of Antioch and the brutal Fall of Jerusalem-and together they will fight to the death. ”
If you’re not into historical fiction, the crusades, English history, this book is not for you. Now for those history geeks like me, this isn’t a page turner, it’s not the adventure it claims to be but it shines in many other ways. The language for one is stunning, lots of beautiful description and Binns is a master of showing instead of telling and juxtapositions. He, Binns, also does historical fiction fans all over the world a favor by revising history in an honest way: showing the ugly side of all sides and not glorifying one over the other.
Though the plot and characters were average the narrative was fantastic, it is set as a story within a story, a lost prince retelling the history to a priest so that it is not lost. And I found that to be moving.
Overall, it’s a story that has a specific audience and isn’t for anyone.