In the year 1202, tens of thousands of crusaders gather in Venice, preparing to embark for Jerusalem to free the Holy City from Muslim rule. Among them is a lowly vagabond Briton, rescued from damnation by a pious knight who burns with zealous fire for their sacred undertaking. And so they set sail, along with dedicated companions—and with a beautiful, mysterious Arab "princess" whom the vagabond liberates from a brutish merchant. But the divine light guiding their "righteous" campaign soon darkens as the mission sinks ever deeper into catastrophe, disgrace, and moral turpitude—as Christians murder Christians in the Adriatic port city of Zara, tragic events are set in motion that will ultimately lead to the shocking and shameful fall of Constantinople.
Impeccably researched and beautifully told, Nicole Galland's Crossed is a stunning tale of the disastrous Fourth Crusade—and of the hopeful, brave, and driven who were caught up in and irrevocably changed by a corrupted cause and a furious battle beyond their comprehension or control.
The unnamed hero of this epic historical adventure, an itinerant musician from Britain, joins the Fourth Crusade in Venice where his fate becomes inextricably linked with those of Gregor of Mainz, a steadfast German knight; Gregor's father-in-law, marquis Boniface of Montferrat, leader of the Crusade; and Jamila of Alexandria, an Arab princess the musician rescues, unaware that she is really a "Jewess" who is trained in the healing arts. Unable to finance the massive undertaking, the Crusaders are continually diverted from their goal the liberation of Jerusalem. As mercenaries, they first sack the Christian city of Zara and lay siege to Constantinople. The musician, Jamila and the increasingly disillusioned Gregor try to do good, but find themselves thwarted by the villainous Boniface and the tragic inevitability of 13th-century realpolitik. Despite characters that fail to engage fully and dialogue that fails to sell the period, the novel still succeeds in being a true guilty pleasure, a rousing shout-out to those past masters of bestselling historical fiction, Frank Yerby, Samuel Shellabarger and Lawrence Schoonover.
This book was a wonderful witty read; it conveys the history played out in the disaterous 4th Crusade, with the sacking of Zara and Constantinoble; but then she introduced some great fictional characters that played their role in this escapade. It’s got it all: adventure, chivalry, politics and sex, and applies to todays’s circumstances in US foreign policies in the Middle East.