1212. The forces of Christendom are on the march again. There is much to avenge. Twenty-five years ago, the Christian army lay slaughtered on the desolate plain of the Horns of Hattin. Mighty Saladin, ruler of the Moslem world, went on to capture Jerusalem, crush the Crusaders and push back the remnants of the Latin empire to a thin line of threatened coastal forts. The Holy Land seemed lost. But now the Pope has called for crusade. Many take the cross for pilgrimage and battle. Among them is Otto, a young noble heading for the Holy Land in search of his vanished Hospitaller Knight father, and Brother Luke, a mysterious Franciscan on a mission of his own. And then there are the children, tens of thousands of them, pledged to recapture Jerusalem and find the True Cross, the holiest of relics lost to the forces of Islam. But what begins as a religious quest will turn into a harrowing nightmare of hardship and danger. For dangers press in and the way ahead is perilous. Some will not survive. What they seek is Truth. What they find is Hell.
Children venture forth on holy crusade in this exciting thriller wrapped in historical fiction's clothes. In 1212 C.E., a small group of German children embark on a journey for the Holy Land to find the lost remnants of the true cross. Joined by Otto, a lordling in search of his father, these young heroes survive privation, hostility, and a journey of thousands of miles. Meanwhile, the Crusader kingdom of Outremer is crumbling, beset by Saracens from without and a demon-worshipping betrayer within. It is up to the children to save the Crusaders from their own corruption. Unnecessary and graphic sex scenes (between adults) occasionally interrupt the tale, but contemporary dialogue and a broad vocabulary draw the reader into the narrative, and clipped scenes full of energy and action keep the story moving smoothly and swiftly.
Enjoyable all the way through. Unpredictable and moving. Can easily say is one of the best books I've ever read. James Jackson inspires with the epic tale of love, hate, and tragedy