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". . . an adept blend of fact and fiction that enchants and enlightens."
Crossed: The Holy Crusade that never was.
A Briton pretends to assassinate the leader of the Crusaders, Boniface, once he learns the Englishman he seeks to kill is not there. He counts on Boniface’s strong and sturdy knight to kill him and end his suffering. Instead the knight becomes the Briton’s protector and intends to deliver him to the Holy Land alive and intact as a convert to Christ. But the Briton has other intentions — he wants to die.
The knight, Gregor of Mainz, is a strong and charismatic man. He also happens to be Boniface’s son-in-law and the heart of the crusading forces, a man of principle and deep religious convictions determined to keep the Briton alive. He takes the Briton into his household and charges his servants, Richard the older and younger, and his half brother Otto, to keep the Briton out of trouble and alive. But Gregor doesn’t take into account his charge’s personal beliefs and ethics. The Briton repays Gregor’s unflinching sense of honor and simple religious beliefs by embroiling Gregor in one conflict after another when he rescues a Saracen princess from a depraved dried fish merchant on the eve before sailing for Egypt. The Briton decides to live – at least until he can get Princess Jamila to Egypt. Nothing goes as planned.
With a liberal but believable dose of fiction, Nicole Galland creates a memorable cast of characters in Crossed. Galland uses the Briton as a catalytic force to motivate Gregor of Mainz and throw a monkey wrench into the Venetian Doge’s and Boniface’s plans alongside a historical backdrop of intrigue and greed. Crossed is an adept blend of fact and fiction that enchants and enlightens. I could not help liking the Briton’s unwavering sense of justice and admiring Gregor’s simple ethics and morality. I found myself reluctant to leave their world. Galland’s sparkling prose, wry wit and meticulous attention to detail brings the thirteenth century to breathless and pulse-pounding life.
Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell