I am absolutely in love with this book. Behind the cheesiness of the book cover is a wonderfully written story of the Third Crusades, and prominent figures of the time such as King Richard the Lionheart and Sultan Saladin. In addition to the plot about the Crusades, there was a romance between a Jew, Miriam, and Saladin, a prominent Muslim in the region. Even Richard falls for Miriam, but the affections are never returned.
Kamran Pasha initially wrote a manuscript as a reaction to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Eventually the manuscript turned into a novel, as the movie never happened.
What I found unique about the story, is that even though he mainly told the story through the Muslim perspective, we were still able to see the Christian side of the story, thus elimination the cliched Good vs. Evil associated with wars. Stories from both sides were told. It was refreshing and enjoyable, and at times, I've discovered that I've been reading for five hours straight. The only reason I wasn't constantly reading the book is because I'm a easily distracted person.
Saladin is seen as the ideals associated with Islam, all the virtues and chivalry. When Richard lost his horse during battle, Saladin presented him his own horse as a replacement. Also, when the foolhardy king was dying from the camp illness, the Sultan sent in his own personal doctor to heal his enemy.
While Richard is less sympathetic than Saladin, and a bit immature at times with his personal choices, the author created the character Sir William Chinon, based on actual historical figure William des Roches, as the symbol for the ideal Christian who never sways from his beliefs even under pressure of power, greed, or revenge.
I would not read this book for the historical inaccuracies, but simply for the plot, the characters, and the overall story that left me unable to put the book down. Those of you who are picky about historical accuracy, don't expect this book to be the one for you.
Rating: Five out of Five stars