- Paperback: 464 pages
- Publisher: Forge (1 Sept. 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312868057
- ISBN-13: 978-0312868055
- Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 3 x 23.6 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,590,982 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Queen of Swords Paperback – 1 Sep 2000
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Born a daughter and raised to rule as the heir to the kingdom, Queen of Swords is the saga of Melisende, Queen of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. The novel portrays how she overcomes the restrictions of the 12th Century to rule as a woman in a time when this was uncommon and unwanted by the men in power.
Tarr describes the history of the Latin kingdom while it was at the height of the Crusader strength and before additional crusades were necessary to halt the drive by the defenders of Islam to reclaim their lands. Melisende is the eldest daughter of King Baldwin II who has no sons. She must wed a foreigner, Fulk of Anjou who is a widower and much older than she. Fulk has been invited to come to Jerusalem by King Baldwin to become king after Baldwin dies. This leaves Melisende unprepared to be a wife, mother, and supportive queen when she was to be queen in her own right. Tarr does a skill job narrating Melisende's frustration in taking a backseat to power.
Secondary characters, such as Richildis of La Foret who travels to the holy land to find her brother, Bertrand help drive the plot. Brother and sister each find romance making any return trip home moot. Tarr succeeds in weaving a enertaining story while always remaining true to historical events. All characters are lively and realistically portrayed. Highly recommended for readers young adult and older.
However, I was surprised that the book wasn't as much about Queen Melisende as I had expected. She hardly appears in the middle third of the book. Instead it is about the fictitious noble woman Richilis & her family. Based on the character Tarr gives the queen, this probably was a good thing. She's a bit cold.
And Eleanor makes an appearance when the Crusade comes & goes. I guess I can't get away from her. I DO wish someone would write about her daughters, the 2 who stayed behind in France & her English ones. They have been neglected while there are more than enough books about the sons.
It was also interesting to see the poor relationship between the Western Christians & the Eastern. Each thought the other wasn't much better than the Muslims.
The story, though based on the life of Melisende, the first daughter of King Baldwin of Jerusalem, has enough fiction to make it easily readable and very captivating.
The author has been able to recreate the romantic atmosphere of the times, with Knights fighting for the "true" religion and
women who had the courage and character to be true Kings, but could not for their sex.
All characters are so vividly described, you cannot but feel you know them and want to find out what happens to them. The places are very well described and feel as real and ancient as they are.
All in all, a very good book and very enjoyable.