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Crusaders [Paperback]

Richard T. Kelly
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

31 July 2008
In 1996, just before the rise of New Labour, Reverend Gore returns to his native Newcastle charged with planting a new church in one of the city's rougher estates. As he settles into the local community, he becomes involved with Stevie, a local 'security consultant', Lindy, a street-wise single mother, and Martin, an ambitious local Labour MP. But these relationships draw Gore into a moral crisis in this extraordinary debut novel, driven by sharp social observation, darkly desperate humour and an undercurrent of impending violence.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (31 July 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571228054
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571228058
  • Product Dimensions: 3.5 x 12.6 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 754,974 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard T. Kelly is the author of two novels, Crusaders (2008), hailed by the Financial Times as 'a magnificent state-of-the-nation epic' and The Possessions of Doctor Forrest (2011). Previously he authored three acclaimed 'oral history' books on film and film-makers: Alan Clarke (1998), The Name of This Book is Dogme 95 (2000), and the authorised biography Sean Penn: His Life and Times (2004). He has also edited Ten Bad Dates With De Niro: A Book of Alternative Film Lists (2007). Richard was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1970, and grew up in Northern Ireland. In 2000 he wrote and presented the Channel 4 documentary The Name of This Film is Dogme 95 and in 2010 Channel 4 also broadcast his first screenplay for television, Eclipse. He is a contributing editor for Esquire magazine and has written for a great range of newspapers and magazines.

Product Description


'An absorbing state-of-the-nation novel, peopled by sympathetic, well-drawn characters.' -- Sunday Telegraph

'An ambitious and absorbing state-of-the-nation novel.' -- Sunday Times

'Entertaining ... CRUSADERS tackles big questions without ever losing its tempo.' -- Guardian

Book Description

One of the most celebrated and timely British debut novels of recent years.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A canny read in places! 24 Mar 2008
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a big book; perhaps too big. I live in Tyneside and so began reading with enthusiasm, able to recognise and visualise the places that are described and easily understand the dialect. I wasn't surprised to read that although this is his first novel, Kelly has previously written biographies. The story is structured around what seemed sometimes overly detailed descriptions of the lives of the three main characters. I struggled through the book from about a quarter of the way in. I just wasn't gripped and his writing style made for slow reading. I confess that I skimmed through the section about the Labour MP through lack of interest that was making reading a chore. It turned out that the MP bore little relevance in the conclusion and overall thread of the story in any case.
I did enjoy parts of the book, although I feel it was unnecessarily long and would have benefitted from further editing. For me it was a bit like watching a film and spotting all the places I know, they were what kept me plodding through the book until the end, which suddenly built to a thrilling climax.
I would recommend this book to anyone familiar with the North East, who also has interests in religion and politics.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Length, Good Read 8 Mar 2008
By G. J. Oxley TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I enjoyed this book, I really did. And the fact that it's mostly set in my native city of Newcastle upon Tyne (although in a fictional suburb) was a bonus.

But, I'm afraid it requires a good editing. This is ironic as the writer is actually an editor for Faber and Faber. Was someone too shy to advise him it needed cutting down?

David Peace claims it is 'The Great British Novel of this Decade', which is sheer hyperbole; it's nothing of the sort. What it is though is an old-fashioned thumping good read.

You'll know by now that it's main protagonist (Reverend John Gore) is a priest aiming to establish (or 'plant') a new church in a deprived area of Newcastle.

Kelly develops the three other main characters, Lindy, the local unmarried mother Gore falls for, a minor league, hard as nails gangster named Steve Coulson, and Martin Pallister, a lecturer turned Labour MP. He weaves their stories into Gore's life, however, and this is a big failing, he sets up Martin Pallister, spending no small number of pages establishing his back story, to very little effect.

However, I particularly enjoyed the character of local heavy Steve Coulson and his hard upbringing, although someone else has remarked that they found this to be set at soap opera level.

The writing is good throughout and even the young Tony Blair gets to make a cameo performance. And although it's a big book it didn't feel like a chore reading it.

So, I'd recommend this to everyone who likes something meaty. But be aware that the book doesn't have the gravitas to be the epic, profound novel about modern Britain (it's largely set in 1996) that the publishers desperately want it to be.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent tale. 17 Jan 2008
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a story of the Newcastle I lived in during the 90s, the characters and places spring out of the page and I feel sure I know the characters.

The story is that of an a political idealist who becomes called to the church and who moves from a comfortable life in the south to a changing Newcastle in the 90s. His life there becomes intertwined with those of his parishioners and he is exposed to violence and finds himself on the periphery as a gang war runs under the surface.

This is a great book and is worth the read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ambitious 6 Mar 2008
By kehs TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a debut novel with an ambitious theme about an Anglican minister trying to start a church in a deprived area of Newcastle in 1996, but the story also harks back to the previous 20 years. It's a very clever theme and Kelly has certainly created a fascinating account of those times. Sadly, I couldn't warm to Kelly's writing style because I found it too stilted and difficult to get immersed in. All in all, well worth a read but not one that had me gripped.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Mr. D. N. Sumption VINE VOICE
This novel is ostensibly the story of a vicar "planting" a new church in a very deprived part of Newcastle, but the back-story is the death of old Labour and the birth of New Labour throughout the 80s and 90s. The story itself is not exactly an unputdownable page-turner, but is still very readable (it's not often that I make it to the end of a 500+ page "literary" novel, but I managed this one quite easily). Towards the end, however, the pace picks up and draws you faster and faster towards the dramatic conclusion, one which will leave you thinking long after you have put down the book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Our Friends in the Northeast 21 Mar 2008
By wabrit
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Crusaders is a weighty tome, running in at over 550 pages, but it never outstays its welcome because the author has grounded his story in some solid foundations (notably the four very different central characters) and keeps the plot moving. The setting is Hoxheath, an imaginary deprived suburb of Newcastle, the time is the 1990s, when the Blairite revolution of New Labour is just around the corner and the old socialist roots of the Labour party are waking up to that fact. The book begins by focusing on the Rev. John Gore, who has volunteered to set up a new church, forsaking his comfortable if somewhat dull rural posting for something that perhaps will reawaken his old political radicalism in the context of his faith.

Slowly but surely the book moves the Rev. Gore away from centre stage to allow the other characters to take more of a central role. Richard T. Kelly has a penchant for not only mixing in different narrative voices, but also different time frames, so that we slowly get a picture of each character formed by an almost random selection of incidents from different periods in their lives. Fortunately the author is good enough in my view not to let this become confusing.

There's definitely a "state of the nation" feel to this book, but with a compelling narrative and believable characters I think it has a broad appeal,
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars shows a great deal of knowledge about various aspects of life
After a slow start I did enjoy this book. The author shows a great deal of knowledge about various aspects of life; the church, politics, and the rougher side of life around the... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Ter
4.0 out of 5 stars A GOOD NORTHERN NOVEL
This was a very good read. It gave a very good picture of life in the North East of England during the 90's. Read more
Published on 19 Aug 2010 by bibliophile
4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed but a rewarding read
The central figure in this quest is John Gore, a young naive clergyman, who, after an brief but unsatisfactory visit to the West Country returns north in the autumn of 1996 to... Read more
Published on 21 July 2010 by L. Hutchinson
4.0 out of 5 stars Crusaders
A very substantial novel (almost Dickensian in feel and scope) about the North of England at the end of the twentieth century. It is well-written and pretty convincing. Read more
Published on 12 Oct 2009 by Rev. D. W. Elliott
2.0 out of 5 stars The difficulties in founding a church
This is a sprawling novel about the founding of a church in Newcastle in the 1990s. As a first novel, it is perhaps overly ambitious, and in the end comes across as a flawed... Read more
Published on 24 July 2009 by Neil Lewis
4.0 out of 5 stars A weighty read
Mighty tome in large format paperback, but raced through it. Key theme is regeneration and renewal (in both people, places and region - the North East). Read more
Published on 13 May 2009 by Big Al
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Read
The book is very vivid and detailed about the surrounding. The Descriptive writing was excellent and enabled me to picture the squalor the priest lived in. Read more
Published on 16 April 2009 by David A. Nash
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting view of the North East in 1996
This book focuses on political, religious and criminal events in the North East in 1996, using the 70s and 80s as historical backup. Read more
Published on 15 Jan 2009 by Janie U
3.0 out of 5 stars It's OK, Nothing Special Though.
Being the debut novel of Richard T. Kelly I suppose I shouldn't have really expected much from the book. Read more
Published on 23 Dec 2008 by Caleb Williams
3.0 out of 5 stars Ambitious and interesting - but a bit too long!
A sprawling "state of the nation" novel that takes a great sweep over two decades up to the election of New Labour. Read more
Published on 22 Dec 2008 by Wynne Kelly
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