Shadow of the Swords
Washington Square (Simon and Schuster), Jun 22 2010, $16.00
Late in the twelfth century, Richard the Lionhearted commands his Christian army on the Third Crusade to take back the Holy Land from the Infidels. His wily adversary is Saladin whose Muslim military tries to repel the European invaders from Palestine.
Richard the Christian and Saladin the Muslim share so many traits as strong skillful military and political leaders but also an attraction of the Jewish niece of Maimonides: the scholar, philosopher and physician. Each wants Miriam, but she has her own agenda to use the sly adversaries’ desires to save her people.
Shadow of the Swords is an excellent fully rounded medieval thriller that provides the audience an astute look at the strategic thinking of the two great leaders and that of the Jews caught in the middle of the latest crusades. Fascinatingly neither Richard nor Saladin expects to outright win, but religious loyalty means they fight in God’s name. Historical fiction fans, having read the Christian perspective many times before, will fully appreciate the fresh observations of Saladin, Maimonides and Miriam as the latest bloody war in the name of God is fought.