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A Long Knight's Tale
on 28 November 2013
Those Crusades went on for a bit didn't they? If you read `Crusade' by Robyn Young, you may just think that she has done a minute by minute reconstruction of events, as this is one slow and long book. Will Campbell is a Templar Knight who is part of a secret group to maintain peace in the troubled Holy Lands. However, over the next decade or so several factions will do their best to break the peace and cause a war that will kills thousands.
Balancing authenticity and entertainment is a difficult task and masters like Cornwell and Iggulden have spent years making it look easy. `Crusade' is an example of how you can be a slave to fact and create a bland fiction. Many of the events in `Crusade' actually happened and Young is at pains to include them in the book. It is set during a time of false peace were people from both sides talked of peace, but planned for war. The fact is that all-out war did not happen for a long time and `Crusade' reflects this. Instead you get a lot of politics about an era I don't know enough about. Reading about men in dusty rooms talking about conspiracies eventually wears very thin.
With strong characterisation the book could have actually worked; real people caught in a deadly situation. However, there were problems with the way that Young writes. For one, there are too many characters. We are told about the conflict from both religious sides, but also from factions within both sides. Too many people, with too many differing ideals - unfortunately, many of their names were too similar! Will's story is the strongest in the book and thankfully is the most prominent. However, this is far too swamped in the politics of others that you grow distant from him. `Crusade' is split into three parts, perhaps it would have been better in 3 separate books, each ending on a high? Instead, it feels like Young had to put all of it in one novel as that is the only way enough things can happen to justify the book.