I get a somewhat steady requests to do book reviews from publishers and authors. Not a large volume by any means, but enough that I turn some down. One publisher must not have done any research about my blog when I got a request once to do a review on some new-age style Mary Magdalene book. I recently got a request to review a book and when I saw in the summary it was a historical novel involving the Crusades and Templer Knights I though this was one I would give a pass to. I certainly love historical novels and the subject matter of the Crusades is quite interesting. The poor Templer Knights though have been have received about every possible slander from the mild to wacky conspiracy theories. I love books involving swords just as much as the next guy, but am not interested in Templer bashing or some view of the Crusades such as we might see on the History Channel.
That was until I saw one of the supporting reviews for the book.
Nathan Sadasivan has a rare, raw talent and Crown of the World is a rip-roaring success. A saga of Christendom told with a breadth of historical knowledge and a depth of empathy and understanding, this novel transports us to a time of turbulence and faith. A work of such accomplishment from a writer of such youth is simply astonishing. I hope and pray that this is the first of many more to follow. –Professor Joseph Pearce, Ave Maria University, author of The Quest for Shakespeare
If I can’t trust Joseph Pearce on the literary merits of a book I can’t trust anybody. After receiving and reading “Crown of the World–Book 1: Knight of the Temple
” I am very glad that I did not reject this book to review.
The novel takes place in the time between the 2nd and 3rd Crusades in the Holy Lands and the lands around it. The story revolves around Godfrey de Monteferrat a young Templar Knight. Godfrey is as idealistic as they come wanting to become a great hero. He has grown up hearing the stories of the heroes in the Crusades along with the stories of the saints. He puts his idealism into practice, but the character is not drawn as a stereotype. This is a deeply layered person with his own struggles. Though he is also no dark hero or anti-hero which we get way too many of today in our fiction and our movies.
The characters around him including the historical figures are richly drawn and just about everything in the novel fascinates. Now I am certainly no Crusades scholar and my knowledge extends to what I have read in books such as the excellent ones by Thomas F. Madden. That being said I found nothing out of place in the novel historically which seems to get the era right. This is such an interesting time in history with all the political intrigues and the battles themselves. For the most part the Crusades were a history of inept leaders and betrayals and you certainly see that in the story.
In a novel involving the Knight Templars you would expect battle scenes and this book does not disappoint in the descriptions along with the strategy involved. Yet the book goes way beyond being just a military novel. There is a serious spiritual dimension to it that is not just knock-you-over-the-head piety. The author also gives you a good understanding of the times without lengthy character exposition explaining everything to you.
It is rather cliche to say you had a hard time putting a book down, but I guess I will cliche away and say just that. I read the near 300 page book over the weekend and certainly felt that bittersweet feeling you get when you reach the end — which was certainly climatic. The last part of the book involves Godfrey’s involvement protecting a very young Baldwin who later becomes Baldwin IV of Jerusalem. Since this book is the first book of a trilogy I really look forward for the next book – which can’t come soon enough in my opinion.
One of the most surprising aspects of this book is that it was written by a nineteen year old who started working on it at 15 while being homeschooled. The novel has every mark as being written by a seasoned author and none of the marks as being written by a beginner. To put it simply this is one of the most enjoyable books I have read.