With a young king facing death, a warrior of the Knights Templar struggles to maintain Christian control of the Holy Land in this “masterful . . . great read” (Publishers Weekly).
Non nobis, Domine, non nobis, sed Nomine Tuo da gloriam. “Not to us, O Lord, but to Your Name give glory.” This motto highlights the vows of chastity and humility taken by the Knights Templar. But, it also speaks to their role as ferocious warriors, passionately and bloodily seeking out glory for their God.
Set in the Holy Land in 1187 A.D., Cecelia Holland’s historical novel masterfully explores the conspiracies and political maneuvers leading up to the Third Crusade. Following a stunning victory at the Battle of Ramleh, Norman Templar Rannulf Fitzwilliam must negotiate a truce with the enemy and determine the order of succession to the throne of Baudouin, the young Christian king dying of leprosy. However, Rannulf’s instincts are for battle, not diplomacy. Temptation and betrayal await him around every corner. The question is not whether he can survive on the battlefield, but whether he can survive the politics and protocol of the royal court.
“Holland's masterful layering of subplots, historical detail and multiple perspectives makes for a great read.” —Publisher’s Weekly
“She brings as much suspense to political intrigue as to the sprawling battle scenes at which she excels.” —The New York Times Book Review
Veteran historical novelist Holland (Pacific Street; The Bear Flag) can be depended on for a rousing story buttressed by assiduous research. In her 21st venture, she applies her considerable talents to the Holy Land and the Crusades. A pair of battles bookend the tale and typify the religious and cultural conflict of the era: the narrative begins with the Christian victory at Ascalon and ends with the Muslim victory at the Battle of Hattin. Protagonist Rannulf Fitzwilliam is a controversial member of the ascetic, courageous Knights of the Temple whose willingness to ignore protocol serves him better in battle than it does in the political intrigue that follows the victory. The issues at hand include negotiating a truce with the Arabs as well as trying to determine the order of succession to the throne of Baudouin, the young Christian king who is beginning to exhibit the terminal effects of leprosy. Among the ambitious players are several other Templar knights and Baudouin's sister, Sibylla, the object of Rannulf's guilt-ridden affection, who marries a French nobleman to gain access to the power of the throne. As the contenders jockey for position, the Christian forces fall into factionalized disarray, leaving them ripe for conquest. The narrative structure may be simple, but Holland's masterful layering of subplots, historical detail and multiple perspectives makes for a great read.