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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Coeur de Lion
'One afternoon, about six months ago, Emily and I walked down to the Globe theatre.'

Lionheart starts with the narrator Richie Cathar going to see Mark Rylance as Richard III with his girlfriend. 'It felt that day that we were in a city that was right at the epicentre of what mattered, and that there was no-one else on earth I would rather be.' Richie says 'I...
Published 20 months ago by Purpleheart

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Richard, then and now
This is two books in one. The first is a somewhat unconvincing contemporary tale of love and loss; the other is an account of Richard I. You might find the Richard I story interesting on its own account or you might find it an unwelcome interruption to the contemporary story. It doesn't quite come off though I learnt a lot about Richard I. The hero (it's a first-person...
Published 14 months ago by Alan B


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Richard, then and now, 28 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: Lion Heart (Kindle Edition)
This is two books in one. The first is a somewhat unconvincing contemporary tale of love and loss; the other is an account of Richard I. You might find the Richard I story interesting on its own account or you might find it an unwelcome interruption to the contemporary story. It doesn't quite come off though I learnt a lot about Richard I. The hero (it's a first-person story) isn't completely convincing. You have to take his word for it that he's (a) brilliantly clever and (b) devastatingly attractive to beautiful women. Dream on!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Coeur de Lion, 19 Sept. 2013
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Purpleheart (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lion Heart (Hardcover)
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'One afternoon, about six months ago, Emily and I walked down to the Globe theatre.'

Lionheart starts with the narrator Richie Cathar going to see Mark Rylance as Richard III with his girlfriend. 'It felt that day that we were in a city that was right at the epicentre of what mattered, and that there was no-one else on earth I would rather be.' Richie says 'I now see that I was already beginning to be irritated by Emily, although I didn't acknowledge it.' Soon the relationship is over and Richie ruminates on it with rewarding spite and is a sorry figure as he cooks sausages on a open fire in a back garden that is 'a toxic, dark, cat-fouled, medieval strip of dank dead clay.' As a narrator Richie is clearly observant and a bit snide and has a chip on his shoulder about his father 'There is a small and distinct class of men that I recognise at a distance, and try to avoid. My father was one of them. They have a frayed-at-the-edges charm and a slightly distracted cheerfulness.'

So the set up is clear - our narrator is at a loose end at the end of his relationship, has some unresolved feelings about his father Alaric, and feels a lack of success - like his father he hasn't fulfilled his potential. He is ready to start a quest. He picks up Alaric's research, swings a grant from his old Oxford college and is off to Jerusalem. Whether it's the True Cross of Jesus he seeks or the one that Richard I believed was the true cross it doesn't matter, as it is change and escape he seeks and some sort of resolution with his romantic renaissance-man father.

I was looking forward to Lionheart very much, as I like Justin Cartwright's writing and have read all of his novels. The early chapters were promising but his relationship with Canadian/Palestinian journalist Noor failed to convince and the women in the novel are ciphers, who are all charmed and bedded by Richie. The descriptions of Byzantine Jerusalem and Richard the Lionheart's adventures are diverting and completely engaging but I didn't think the novel's two plotlines worked as a whole and all the material, interesting as it was, didn't cohere for me. Three and a half stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "What family doesn't have its problems?", 3 Feb. 2014
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Blue in Washington "Barry Ballow" (Washington, DC United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lion Heart (Hardcover)
British writer Justin Cartwright has fashioned a beautiful novel in "Lion Heart" that combines an intriguing moment in medieval history with the contemporary striving of a 30-something scholar attempting to reconcile his ambivalent feelings about an estranged father as he tries to deal with an ultra-complicated love affair. An unwieldy structure on the face of it, but one that is carried off nicely by the author.

The protagonist of "Lion Heart" is Richard Cathar, a kind of academic drifter, who commits to a research project that interested his dead father involving the time spent by King Richard I of England in ancient Palestine on a crusade to liberate Jerusalem from Muslims led by Sultan Saladin. While Richard I never succeeded in the task of freeing the Holy Land and all the locations sacred to Christians, the story goes that he did manage to obtain the "'The True Cross" on which Christ was crucified and have it brought back to Western Europe, where it was then lost to history. Richard Cathar's goal is to find out what happened to the sacred relic.

While researching the matter in modern Israel, Cathar meets and falls in love with a Palestinian/Canadian journalist who is soon kidnapped by a dissident group in Cairo and badly mistreated. Her future will tie closely and profoundly to Cathar's own as the story goes on.

There is some intriguing history in this book as well as a nicely drawn love story and continuously interesting interactions between the principal and secondary characters that populate the novel. Author Cartwright has a nice way with dialogue and also spins some very entertaining and plausible historic fiction. The book's conclusion came too quickly for this reader, but was credible and intelligent. A very nice read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lion Heart, 3 Oct. 2013
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lion Heart (Hardcover)
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Richie Cathar is in his early thirties but has never had a 'proper' job. Named after his hippy father's hero, Richard I of England, the Lionheart, he muses often on the former monarch that almost everyone he meets sums up with the words, "wasn't he gay?" or something to that effect. Dissatisfied with his relationship, he is nevertheless disgruntled when the earnest Emily leaves him for another man and less than gentlemanly when she tries to return. In many ways, I feel that this is one of the things people do not like about the book, because Richie is not the most likeable of narrators. However, there is nothing which says the heroes of novels must be heroic (or even likeable). Richie manages to gain a research grant and uses his father's old notes to suggest he is looking at the art of the Kingdom of Jerusalem as his topic. In Jerusalem, he meets an attractive Canadian Palestinian journalist, named Noor, and the two fall in love. She has to leave for Cairo and he has a feeling of unease as she drives away. Returning to England, he has not heard from her and her enigmatic aunt is evasive. Before long, he hears she has been kidnapped - and asks how well he really knows her.

This novel shifts between the perspective of Richard I as he searches for the True Cross, Richie's quest to try to discover the True Cross for himself and, along the way, understand his father, his relationship with Noor and other women in his life. I have read most of Justin Cartwright's novels - some have been brilliant, others less so. I feel this is slightly bogged down by a myriad of storylines - spying, politics, romance and historical fiction are all touched upon. However, it is an enjoyable read and Cartwright's novels are always well written.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A very unlikely hero, 9 Feb. 2014
This review is from: Lion Heart (Hardcover)
I found this a totally implausible book. We are asked to believe that the charmless narrator, Richie has reached the age of 33 without ever having had a proper job, despite having achieved the finest First of his Oxford year. (So how has he survived for the past decade? The same question could be asked of his father, whose livelihood is never explained.) Nevertheless, everything now falls into Richie's lap. All the women who cross his path desire him (he is, after all, devilishly handsome) and every property owner he encounters offers him free accommodation. He gets invitations to luxury homes and London clubs. Travel is easy and money for flights, taxis, and trains is no problem. He is loaned a Porsche and bought an expensive suit by a long suffering friend, research grants come his way just for the asking, an ageing aristocrat gives him a job in the House of Lords, and wonderfully significant documents turn up everywhere he looks. Worse, an awkward, unresolvable relationship issue is settled by a simple plot device (that I won't reveal) that leaves the way clear to a happy ending.

If I had read this in a work by Ian Fleming it would have stretched my credulity. Are we supposed to take it seriously?
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars his heart wasn't in it, 19 Nov. 2013
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This review is from: Lion Heart (Kindle Edition)
I usually find Justin Cartwright an invigorating read. He has interesting themes, is witty and writes engagingly. But this was very disappointing. To much reasearch badly incorporated in a totally artifically constructed story.
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4.0 out of 5 stars I ought to hate it but I don't, 5 Dec. 2014
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This review is from: Lion Heart (Paperback)
Richie is 33, a talented scholar but living a life of mediocrity, in an unhappy relationship and with no visible means of support. His father was sent down from Oxford and lived a life of hippy abandonment on drugs until his death. Then things start to move for Richie. He undertakes a thesis with a grant from his old college which is based on Crusader Art, he journeys to the Middle East and starts to follow a trail related to King Richard's lost treasure, the True Cross.

So far so good. This is an interesting book as on the face of it the story is preposterous, Richie has no visible means of support yet can travel at the drop of a hat, he is in an unsatisfactory relationship but once that ends he is incredibly attractive to every woman he meets and academically the papers he needs suddenly appear as if by magic. However despite the fact that the plot is ridiculous, the writing is excellent and the reader really gets drawn in the story. Despite myself I really enjoyed this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars a confusing book, 7 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: Lion Heart (Kindle Edition)
A strange tangle of a book, which is ultimately unsatisfying. It is written in the first person and has a mixture of modern spy story and Dan Brown-esque medieval mysticism, neither of which is developed enough to feel complete. The central figure, Richie, is searching for the remnant of the true cross that he believes Richard the Lionheart had conveyed from the third crusade, having asked for it from Saladin. The transcripts from original documents are fascinating and there is a sense that there is some real historical research here that could have been interesting if he had concentrated on this rather than mixing it up with an unconvincing sub plot.
There are some elegantly stylish passages, particularly the descriptions of life in London, but this didn't rescue the book for me.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Really interesting, 22 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: Lion Heart (Kindle Edition)
I wasn't sure about this book, having read some of the online reviews. However, I'm so glad I read it, it's a very interesting combination of threads drawn together from the past and the present with a focus on the Middle East. I have read most of Justin Cartwright's books and although they vary a great deal in setting and subject matter, the clarity, the insight, the supple prose and the sheer readability can be relied on. In the end they are all about people.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent holiday read, 24 Sept. 2014
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Morganlefay (English Home Counties) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lion Heart (Paperback)
Good mix of 'ancient and modern': the story of King Richard II interwoven with current day quest narrative. Sometimes a whiff of Dan Brownishness, tho Cartwright mentions Brown and the reference seems ironic, mocking. Being ignorant about Richard I was very impressed by the detailed research which seems to have been done. I read this on holiday and it was just what was needed !
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Lion Heart
Lion Heart by Justin Cartwright (Hardcover - 12 Sept. 2013)
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