The Black Rood: 2 (Celtic Crusades) Paperback – 3 May 2001
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From the Back Cover
The Celtic Crusades is an epic trilogy of a Scottish noble family fighting for its existence and its faith during the age of the Crusades. The series traces five generations of knights and noblemen over a span of almost 500 hundred years, during the crucial period when military and sacred history melded. Set against a backdrop of the declining Holy Roman Empire and its ruinous wars with the Saracen East, this series is full of exciting drama. Each of the three books centers on one of three periods of Crusades history as well as one significant relic: The Iron Lance features the spear that pierced Christs side; The Black Rood, the cross itself; and The Mystic Rose, the grail.
The Black Rood begins with Murdo, the courageous warrior from the first novel, as a grandfather and wealthy landowner in Scotland. When his brother returns home from the Holy Land, Murdo and his family enter into an exciting search for the Black Rood, a piece of the very cross upon which Christ died.
Top customer reviews
Sadly, the Black Rood (the Holy Cross) does not live up to the standards of the first book. Murdo's story meanders across France and the holy land at a pedestrian pace, while the author describes a journey that does little to advance the story. We are told repeatedly about how much Murdo fears being executed the next day (the story purports to be his diary in Egyptian captivity), but as another reviewer noted, this quickly becomes irritating with several hundred pages yet to go. One would think that an author in fear of his life would hurry forward to the important events of his tale, but instead Duncan dwells on small unimportant details of his journey across France. This makes the story feel sadly pedestrian, and because we always know that Duncan is going to get through unscathed (he is telling the story, after all), suspense and tension are practically absent from the story.
The suspense of the reader might instead have been raised on behalf of Duncan's companions, but unfortunately here the book fails miserably. The companions are flat and 2-dimensional. Padraig is Duncan's conscience personified, his relationship with Sydonie mostly happens "outside the book" and Yordannis and Roupert remain cyphers. In general, characters turn up to help Duncan (usually with money or food) when needed, and disappear again just as easily when their purpose in the plot is served. The ending is a major deus ex machina; the big confrontation that might finally have tested our hero's character and personality (and show-cased the conflicts of interests between him and his friends) is simply resolved to allow our hero to earn his "trophy".
The modern storyline is not resolved yet; for that we must await the final book in the series. On the whole, this is not a book I would recommend to anyone who is not a serious Lawhead fan.
The story follows the fortunes of Duncan Caithness, Scottish noblemen and pilgrim, who embarks on an ill-fated quest to recover the titular artefact - part of the cross on which Jesus was crucified. Duncan is robbed by bandits, separated from his friends, captured by hostile knights, and eventually sentenced to death in the Holy Lands.
Lawhead narrates the story from two fronts - that of Duncan himself, and one of his nineteenth century descendants, a Scottish lawyer who chances upon the manuscript that Duncan created during his journey. This dual narrative works very well in terms of structure, although the strand concerning Duncan and his perilous pilgrimage is naturally far more engaging.
The second in a trilogy, I read this one before the others, and it is just as good as a stand-alone novel. Perfect for anyone who likes their fantasy history peppered with a dose of realism, this story is stylish and passionate, and definitely left me wanting more.
If you enjoyed 'The Iron Lance', you will love this - if not, it still stands as a great story in its own right.
I can't wait to read volume 3!
This book is a continuation of the Iron Lance. I found this book The Black Rood) to be even better than the Iron Lance which is saying something because I enjoyed that tremendously. Perhaps it is because you are more familiar with the characters or the storyline, I am not sure, but I can hardly wait for the third book, The Mystic Rose.
Murdo Ranulfsson has been through the harrowing and frightening experience of being part of the Great Crusade in Jerusalem and no one is more surprised than himself that he has lived to tell the tale. He has returned to his beloved Scotland and there has founded a clan that is both powerful and god fearing. Life is also good for Duncan, Murdo's son, that is until his young wife dies in childbirth . . .
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The characters were strong and the story didn't get bogged down or boring at all.Read more
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