Thrilling, grittily real historical novel set during one of the mo; Set during the late 13th century, when Christian Europe once again sought to prise the Holy Land and the jewel at its heart - Jerusalem - out of the grasp of the Infidel, 'The Crusader' tells the story of one of the last and bloodiest crusades as experienced by a young Spanish nobleman, Francisco Montcada. He is the hero of the novel, but his story is recounted by a former friend of his, a somewhat self-aggrandizing and ambitious Cistercian monk, Brother Lucas. Francisco has returned from the Levant a broken and seemingly possessed man. Now under the jurisdiction of the Inquisition, it falls to Brother Lucas to exorcise his tortured soul. Horrified and repelled by the condition in which he finds Francisco - in chains, emaciated, filthy, mad and utterly silent, the monk begins to coax the once-impassioned young man's story out of him.
Through Lucas' increasingly questioning eyes and ears we learn of Francisco's story, of how he took up the Cross in order to redeem his beloved brother's memory and how, instead of the glory and redemption he so earnestly believed he would find at the gates of Jerusalem, he came face to face with the fear and the fury, the horror and the bloodshed of one of the most ignominious and brutal adventures ever undertaken in the name of Christendom...In the Year of Our Lord 1275...In the latter half of the thirteenth century Christian Europe once more sought to prise the Holy Land out of the grasp of the Infidel. Tens of thousands took up the Cross. Some for the greater glory of God, others for baser motives - driven by lust for power, for riches, for revenge. Here then is the story of the seventh and last Crusade, as experienced by a young Spanish nobleman, Francisco de Montcada. And while Francisco is the hero of this novel, his tale is told by his former friend and fellow acolyte, a venal and moderately trustworthy Cistercian monk named Brother Lucas. For Francisco has returned from the Levant a broken and seemingly possessed man.
The Inquisition decree that his tortured soul be exorcized and the task falls to Brother Lucas. Eschewing the Inquisition's more usual methods, the monk sits with the silent, emaciated knight in his cell and talks to him. Slowly, tentatively, Francisco begins to tell his story: of how he set out to free the soul of his dead brother; of the fierce friendship with his cousin Andres, and his love for that great warrior's sister Isabel; of his fellow knights - his noble, battle-hardened commander Ramon, and the treacherous Don Fernando; of the heady triumph of the battle of Toron, and the courageous but ultimately doomed defence of the great crusader castle of Krak des Chevaliers. It is the story of how an honourable man found not the glory and redemption for which he'd yearned but instead unimaginable cruelty, barbarism and bloodshed. Set against a thrillingly recreated historical backdrop, this rousing, wonderfully crafted novel of religious fervour and human passions, of greed and betrayal, and love and war brings an extraordinary, tumultuous era brilliantly to life.