“LAWHEAD KNOWS HOW TO SPIN A TALE.”
In a time of legends and heroes, blood and mystery, one man will carry on his family’s destiny as he sets upon a dangerous and glorious quest.
The Great Crusade is long over, or so Duncan, son of Murdo, believes until a long-lost uncle appears from the East bearing tales of immense treasure. Though the Iron Lance had been won for the emperor, an even holier relic has been found: the Black Rood—the prayer-worn, blood-stained remnant of the True Cross—now endangered by the greedy ambitions of ruthless crusader barons bent on carving kingdoms from the desert sands of the Middle East.
When Duncan’s life is shattered by tragedy, he sets sail on his own pilgrimage to Jerusalem, following in the footsteps of his father. But the gates to the Holy Land are guarded by the warrior priests known as the Knights Templar. These fearsome guardians hold the key to more than just Duncan’s fate—the very destiny of the West is in their hands.
“HISTORICAL DETAILS BRING THE SETTING TO ROBUST LIFE.”
The second volume of the historical fantasy Celtic Crusades trilogy finds Magnus Ranulfsson's eldest son, Duncan, taking up his father's quest for relics of the Crucifixion--in this case, the last remaining traceable piece of the True Cross, the Black Rood. He does not go alone. Padraig, an unconventional priest of the Celtic Cele De, accompanies him, and on their bandit-troubled passage through France they are joined by Prince Roupen of Armenia, who is trying to return to his homeland. When the three reach the Mediterranean, their worries multiply, as the Knights Templars are less friendly than they seem, some Christians are openly at war with one another and the Moslems (particularly the Seljuq Turks) are ready to take advantage of the intrigues. Duncan finds himself up to his sword belt in those plottings, dealing with friends where he expected enemies and vice versa The narrative is framed by the diary of a turn-of-the-century Scots physician, a member of a secret order keeping Celtic wisdom alive. Coincidences are so numerous as to be jarring, and the sheer abundance of historical detail slows the pacing. Those same details also bring the setting to robust life, however; they do no harm to the characterizations and include such treasures as the cult of the Black Mary and a gruesomely vivid narrative of the Crucifixion. With this novel, Lawhead likely will win no converts, but nor will he alienate his faithful.