The sun was approaching its zenith, dominating the sky and turning the deep ochre of the desert to a bleached bone-white. Buzzards circled the crowns of the hills that ringed the plain of Ayn Jalut and their abrasive cries hung on the air, caught in the solidity of the heat.
Set in the C13th this historical novel sets out to tell a tale of Will Campbell, a young sergeant in the Templars, who wants nothing more than to be made a knight so all his past sins can be forgiven and he can be reconciled with his father. But on his journey towards knighthood he becomes caught up in intrigue and conspiracy, both within the order and without. There is also the matter of a secret book, stolen from the Templars that Will has been ordered to locate.
And in the east there is a new sultan, Baybars Bundukdari, who has succeeded in driving out the invading Mongol armies, and has now turned his attention on the Christians inhabiting the Holy Land.
The book is well written, the character well-drawn, but I was never gripped by either the plot of the characters. Because the story covers such a range of characters there is quite a lot of jumping about, both geographically and time wise. And it seemed to be handled in a slightly clumsy manner. There was simply nothing, and no one that I really engaged with. However, there is a lot of detail and obviously quite a considerable amount of research has gone into this book.
Still, some interesting ideas, and I wouldn’t be totally averse to reading the sequel, but neither would I be rushing out to buy it.