Men of the Cross by Charlene Newcomb

menofthecross

When I started this book I expected a story about the Third Crusade; one that would bring to the fore the majesty and the folly of the venture.  Those elements were certainly on display as the author leads the reader on an exciting, entertaining and surprisingly evocative tale.  From the mustering of Richard’s knights to the taking of Sicily and through all of the adventures they encountered before arriving at Acre.  The action is portrayed in nice detail, the political intrigue between Richard and Phillip gives the reader a taste of what that time was like and mimics a little I suppose what our time is like even now…that old adage that history repeats.  As to the characters, well I for one was drawn into their feelings, the ones of joy and the frequent bouts of sorrow and confusion.  The two main protagonists are fictional characters, Henry DeGray and Stephan l’Aigle, two knights in the retinue of King Richard.  Henry is on his first Crusade, indeed his first time going into harm’s way while Stephan is a seasoned veteran having fought by Richard’s side before.  Neither one of them comes out of this adventure the same way they went in.  So much angst, so much confusion, so much revilement, and yet so much love.  Among the co-stars of this tale are the very real King Richard Lionheart, Sir Robin(yes that Robin), Allan(yes that Allan), Little John(yes oh you get it by now)  🙂 However, Robin and his two mates are given here with a slightly different slant…there is no taint of an outlaw to Robin and his companions are younger in this story and play some interesting roles throughout.  Now as for Henry and Stephan, I cannot say enough about how well crafted these two are; kudos to Char.  I recommend this book highly and cannot wait for the sequel.  5 Stars

About Char

me1sCharlene Newcomb. Char. That’s me.

Librarian.
Navy vet.
Mom to 3 grown, amazing children.
I live in Kansas. Yes, Toto. Kansas.

Born & raised in South Carolina, I wanted a life of adventure and travel. I realized that dreams of hitting the big time with my all-girl rock band Liberation were just that – dreams. And becoming an astronaut wasn’t in the cards. So I joined the Navy to see the world and spent six years as a communications technician/voice language analyst. I fit college into my life (BA in History, and many years later an MA in Library Science). That desire to travel in space translated into writing science fiction: I published 10 short stories in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, many featuring a Rebel underground freedom fighter named Alex Winger. I have published 2 novels, one a contemporary drama, Keeping the Family Peace; the other,Men of the Cross (book 1 of Battle Scars), which allows me to share my love of history with readers. Book 2 of the series will be published in 2015.

Welcome to my worlds.

Contact me at charlenenewcomb at gmail dot com.

Follow me on Facebook or  on Twitter. I’m also on Goodreads though I don’t keep up with that site as much as I should!

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Outcasts by Martin Lake

outcasts

This is a most interesting and thought provoking entry by Martin Lake.  Jerusalem is under siege by a Muslim horde led by Saladin and is being defended by the respected knight, Balian.  With so few knights to defend the city, Balian bestows knighthood on ordinary peasants and that has unexpected results for those who survive the fall of Jerusalem.  The tale follows the separate paths that the main characters have to follow in order to survive or to seek out their loved ones.  One of the more salient features of the story is how the new ‘knights’ are treated by their fellow Christians as opposed to how they are treated by their Muslim captors.

The story is full of the descriptive talent I’ve come to enjoy from Mr. Lake as he takes the reader on a journey to many of the historical sites of that part of the world, Jerusalem, Tyre, Antioch & Baghdad, for example.  The author has also given us many great characters to grow fond of or to despise.  I enjoyed this tale of the seemingly endless conflicts to control The Middle East and I am looking forward to finding out what happens to the characters as the story continues in the sequel.  4 stars.