|About the Book|
Robert Curthose, Duke of Normandy, is the eldest son of William the Conqueror, yet it’s his younger brother, William Rufus, who in 1095 is now king of England. Robert nevertheless retains his idealism and belief in people’s goodness and is inspiredMoreRobert Curthose, Duke of Normandy, is the eldest son of William the Conqueror, yet it’s his younger brother, William Rufus, who in 1095 is now king of England. Robert nevertheless retains his idealism and belief in people’s goodness and is inspired by Pope Urban II’s plea to Christendom to rescue Jerusalem from the infidel. Rufus agrees to mortgage Robert’s land and protect his lady Tegwin and their two children, so in the company of his mesnie and half the nobles of Europe, Robert sets off on what is to become known as the First Crusade.At first, the journey goes well. Robert enjoys a sojourn in Italy and falls in love – not with his old friend Matilda of Canossa, but with the woman Matilda proposes as his wife- Sibyl of Conversano, a beautiful young heiress. Leaving Italy the Christians cross into Constantinople and it’s here, as he meets Alexios Komnenus, Christian Emperor of the East, that Robert first suspects ulterior motives among the foremost nobles. As the mission progresses into the dangerous lands of Asia Minor, these undercurrents become increasingly dangerous as individual goals of land, power and riches cause deadly rivalries between the Christian leaders. And hovering out there, preparing to attack the Christian invaders – how else are they going to see a huge army intent on taking their major cities and despoiling their land? – are hordes of Mussulmen fighters who will kill in the name of another God. Whatever the religion of the participants, savagery on a horrendous scale is going to turn the Eastern lands incarnadine.Robert, appalled at the godless, worldly motivations revealed by the other leaders, is forced to guide those who are left of his own men to the mission’s culmination in Jerusalem – whatever he now thinks of those who started it. The odds are against him and he has only his cunning, his skill at arms, his faithful followers and his integrity to ensure his survival. In the bloodbath where Robert’s own beliefs encounter a bitter reckoning, will that be enough?A carefully researched tale of love and war, empirical ambition and the bloody clash of cultures in the Middle East that holds real resonance for the days we live in now. It illuminates the life of a man whom history has ignored, a man who deserved to be king.