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De Bodeham—what a ghastly prig!,
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This review is from: Knight with Armour (Bello) (Kindle Edition)
I really wanted to like this book. It ticks a lot of the right boxes: obscure, eccentric English author; Crusades; a 'workaday' hero. However, I didn't. And here's why.
For a story to work, you have to have some liking or feeling for the protagonist, to care what happens to him. I'm afraid Duggan inspires none whatever in me for his leading man, de Bodeham. He is dull, priggish, uninspiring, cowardly (but not in a fun, Flashman-ish way like the anti-hero of 'Conscience of the King'), inept, moralistic and unlikeable. The only reason I kept turning the pages was to hope either that (a) he would suddenly have a life-altering experience and change or (b) would die in some improbably noble and cathartic way. SPOILER ALERT........................He doesn't.
Duggan could have done with a tough editor over him on this one. Quite apart from the dullness of the main character, there is far too much detail on the squabbles after the taking of Antioch and on the rival views over the validity of the True Lance; these could have been dealt with at much reduced length. There is also little sense of the true horror and brutality of this expedition; little of the horrors of the sack of Antioch, no mention at all of the cannibalism (attested to by the Crusaders' own side) at the Siege of Ma'arra and the book stops mid-narrative as the sack of Jerusalem is about to start. If Duggan had wanted to paint an 'alternative' version of the Crusades (he was writing in 1950), then there was plenty of material he could have used.
For me, a dud.