The Crescent and the Cross (Knights Templar #5) by S.J.A. Turney

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An epic battle of the Reconquista; a personal struggle to survive; a fight for glory.

War is brewing, and the Pope has summoned a crusade. The nations of Christendom are rallying to fight the Almohad caliphate, but they are a formidable foe.

Meanwhile, behind Moorish lines, a fortress held by Castile is under siege. As the siege falls, a knight is lost. Arnau leaves on a dangerous, near-suicidal quest to save him, a new squire in tow.

In the heat of the sierras though, things are not as they seem. War is coming to Iberia and all will be tested. Arnau’s sword arm will need practice, as will his mind.

REVIEW

You would think that after the number of books that I have read by SJA Turney, that I would have an idea of what to expect; that it would be unusual for me to be surprised by what transpires on his written pages. That does hold true for The Crescent and the Cross, for the most part – the trademark Turney touches of placing the reader in the footsteps of his characters traversing terra incognito painstakingly described – action that delivers sights, sounds and the smells of the brutality of battle – inducing audible gasps at surprise twists in the plot…and so on. However, I cannot shirk my duty as a humble, yet perceptive, scribbler of reviews. I am filing a complaint with the TEToFC (The Ethical Treatment of Fictional Characters) for the sheer scope of  physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual agony imposed upon Brother Arnau de Valbona throughout the narrative which in turn drags the poor reader into the trauma, causing accelerated heart rates, shrieking, and lack of sleep. Yes, my fellow readers, Mr. Turney has done it again. Oh, by the way, he leaves us hanging at the end…a not so subtle ploy to pull us into the next volume in the series. Hah…it won’t work on me, I would buy it anyway.😊 Five ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Winter Knight – The Knights Templar Novels by S.J.A. Turney

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A murder in a far off castle. A deadly struggle to survive… An intense and gripping Medieval thriller.

In the depths of winter at an ancient German castle, high up in the mountains, a noble is found dead under mysterious circumstances.

Back at Rourell, Arnau is taking on the responsibilities of a full Templar Knight. But when he is tasked with returning Brother Lütolf’s papers to settle a legal dispute between his family and the Order, Arnau is unexpectedly drawn into the killing at the castle. Here he enters a dark game of knives and double-crosses.

Trapped in the ice-bound fortress, mastery of the sword is no longer enough. This is a different kind of war: one of shadows and whispered threats. Arnau must use all the guile he possesses, or risk succumbing to an icy tomb.

The latest instalment of S.J.A. Turney’s unputdownable and bestselling Knights Templar series, The Winter Knight is perfect for fans of Bernard Cornwell, Ben Kane and Christian Cameron

REVIEW

A slight deviation from the first three books in The Knights Templar, The Winter Knight is not only a further look into the development of Arnau as a trusted member of the Order, but it is also a masterfully told murder mystery. The author presents a seemingly impossible scenario – a murder with no viable suspects. But like the tapestry that hangs in the schloss where each picture; each section tells a tale, each chapter reveals more clues, more clarity, and more danger for Arnau who is tasked with solving the mystery. Naturally, the author has not made it easy for our sleuth. Stuck in the middle of a blizzard ridden mountain fortress, oft times not exactly dressed for the elements, and surrounded by people who have no love for the Templar Order, Arnau follows a twisting plot line as treacherous as the knee deep snow covered forest trail leading to the castle. Beautifully depicted, the pages practically emit the frost ridden breath of Arnau, or the sound of the snow crunching underfoot, the author has once again taken this reader on another page turning adventure.  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Virgin of the Wind Rose (Christopher Columbus) by Glen Craney

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While investigating the murder of an American missionary in Ethiopia, rookie State Department lawyer Jaqueline Quartermane becomes obsessed with a magical word square found inside an underground church guarding the tomb of the biblical Adam.

Drawn into a web of esoteric intrigue, she and a roguish antiquities thief named Elymas must race an elusive and taunting mastermind to find the one relic needed to resurrect Solomon’s Temple. A trail of cabalistic clues leads them to the catacombs of Rome, the crypt below Chartres Cathedral, a Masonic shaft in Nova Scotia, a Portuguese shipwreck off Sumatra, and the caverns under the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Intertwined with this modern mystery-thriller, a parallel duel is waged:

The year is 1452. One of the most secretive societies in history, Portugal’s Order of Christ, is led by a reclusive visionary, Prince Henry the Navigator. He and his medieval version of NASA merged with the CIA scheme to foil their archenemies, the Inquisitor Torquemada and Queen Isabella of Castile, who plan to bring back Christ for the Last Judgment by ridding the world of Jews, heretics, and unbelievers.

Separated by half a millennium, two conspiracies to usher in the Tribulations promised by the Book of Revelation dovetail in this fast-paced thriller to expose the world’s most explosive secret: The true identity of Christopher Columbus and the explorer’s connection to those now trying to spark the End of Days.

REVIEW

A sprawling tale spanning 500 years, The Virgin of the Wind Rose, is about as exciting as it gets. It is also a very erudite tome…the reader will inevitably have to think about what they just read…the word square, the navigational methods, the zealous religion aspect, etc. The story alternates between the late 15th century – the mysterious Portuguese sea going activities, and modern day where Jaq and Boz are pulled into a conspiracy to usher in The Last Days – The Rapture. Meticulously researched, the author creates a plausible scenario for the activities of the Portuguese sea going visionaries, and the cult like evangelicals. The characters are well written; their thoughts and emotions on full display. I enjoyed the inner debate of Jaq’s Christian beliefs versus her mounting doubts…but even she, a talented, well educated person can blurt out ,”Everyone knows Jesus was a Christian.”…cults will do that even to smart minds.

The Virgin of the Wind Rose is an unusual read. A page turner with a caveat – must slow down a bit to understand the arcane nature of the narrative, but once the pieces of this 500 year old puzzle fall into place, it is a good read..a very good read.   5⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

City of God (Knights Templar #3) by S.J.A. Turney

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Journey to the heart of an empire: a jaw-dropping historical adventure from master storyteller S.J.A. Turney

Arnau de Vallbona and his fellow Templar Brother Ramon are bound for the Holy Land to take part in the great Crusade when fate intervenes.

Delayed in Cyprus, they learn of a growing rift in Christendom: the crusading army has diverted from its course and threatens Rome’s allies in the Byzantine Empire. Arnau and Ramon, alongside the irascible Preceptor Bochard, race to Constantinople, encountering a grand and crumbling world of alliances and betrayals, emperors and armies.

The fate of the world is at stake. As Christian forces inexorably collide, Arnau is caught in the middle of an epic siege of the greatest city in the world. He will be tested to his limits: follow his vows… or do what’s right?

A novel of awe inspiring scale, battle and story, this is a masterly telling of one of history’s great turning points from S.J.A. Turney, perfect for fans of Bernard Cornwell, Michael Jecks and K. M. Ashman

Praise for SJA Turney

‘Turney masters politics, pace and pursuit in this death-defying twelfth-century story … stunning story-telling’ Prue Batten, author of The Triptych Chronicle Trilogy

REVIEW

When I grow up I want to be able to write historical fiction tales like Mr. Turney. City of God is another example of the author’s prowess at putting words on a page; words that compels the reader, exhorts the reader, to keep turning those pages. In this tale we are taken to the historic fall of Constantinople, where Arnau is caught not only in the Frank/Venetian siege of the city, but also in the horns of a dilemma – the battle of an unwavering obedience to a rigid code versus the moral obligations inherent in the realities of the situation. Richly detailed, thoroughly researched, dramatic action, a plot dripping with irony and surprises, and characters who stand out from the page, City of God has it all.

5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Last Emir (Knights Templar #2) by S.J.A. Turney

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Risk everything; fight to the last: a taut and intense historical thriller from master author S.J.A. Turney

The relics of Christendom have been plundered during the long Moorish conquest of the Iberian peninsula. Newly minted Templar Sergeant Arnau de Vallbona must recover one of the most elusive to save his priory at Rourell in Spain.

Travelling to Majorca on a stealth mission to retrieve the bones of St Stephen, Arnau soon discovers the raid is more complex than it first appears: the mighty Almohad dynasty has laid claim to the island, and will fight them every step of the way.

Along with his companion, the aged warrior Balthesar, Arnau is in desperate straits. Surrounded on all sides by hostile forces, it will take all their cunning and strength to escape with their prize – and their lives….

A thrilling and unexplored account of the Knights Templar, grounded in extraordinary research, The Last Emir is perfect for fans of Bernard Cornwell, K.M. Ashman and C.F. Iggulden.

REVIEW

Arnau is not a very complex man…steadfast, loyal, unerring in his devotion to the Order and to God. However, in The Last Emir, complexities are the name of the game, and Arnau will either adapt or he will die. While the story line revolves around the search for a long lost relic, the plot soon encompasses the fight of good versus evil, the age old story of revenge, and the irony of one’s faith being tested and used in a much broader understanding of God and men. The author has given the reader a heart pounding tale with his usual flair for drama making it hard to put the book down. Meticulously researched, the reader is drawn into a time and place of religious turmoil, and the seeking of power and dominion over heathens and infidels. The story, entertaining as it is, also has the quality to make one think about how things in the world could be without the religious intolerance we have been subjected to for millennia. As a reader, The Last Emir, is a pleasure to enjoy. As a member of the human race, The Last Emir, is a hopeful glance at how Christian, Muslim, and Jew can coexist. 5 Stars

Daughter of War by S.J.A. Turney

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An extraordinary story of the Knights Templar, seen from the bloody inside
Europe is aflame. On the Iberian Peninsula the wars of the Reconquista rage across Aragon and Castile. Once again, the Moors are gaining the upper hand. Christendom is divided.
Amidst the chaos comes a young knight: Arnau of Valbona. After his Lord is killed in an act of treachery, Arnau pledges to look after his daughter, whose life is now at risk. But in protecting her Arnau will face terrible challenges, and enter a world of Templars, steely knights and visceral combat he could never have imagined.
She in turn will find a new destiny with the Knights as a daughter of war… Can she survive? And can Arnau find his destiny?
An explosive novel of greed and lust, God and blood, Daughter of War marks the beginning of an epic new series from bestseller S.J.A. Turney. Perfect for fans of Bernard Cornwell, Conn Iggulden and Matt Harffy.

My Review

Since I do a lot of reading & reviewing, and my ‘to be read’ pile keeps growing, I usually read three books concurrently. To avoid confusion the three reads are typically of different eras, subjects, etc, etc. While reading Daughter of War, I was also involved in a book about pre-Norman invasion England, and one about the American Revolution.  All excellent reads, all intense page turning dramas demanding my attention. Usually I split my reading time evenly through the current books, finishing them more or less at the same time. Well, my peeps and fellow travelers, Daughter of War ruined my plan. I found myself unable to switch books despite the fact that I was enjoying the other two, and could not stop turning to the next chapter, finishing this one way ahead of the others. The author has taken a portion of history that is not well known, or recorded, and has fashioned a well crafted tale replete with wonderful characters, and his typical methodical research. Emotionally charged, detail filled, and a splendid look at a time and place in history that kept me enthralled and entertained. I am certainly looking forward to more of Arnau of Valbona.  5 stars