The Last Crusader Kingdom

Dawn of a Dynasty in Twelfth-Century Cyprus

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
412 Pages
Reviewed on 08/25/2017
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Ray Simmons for Readers' Favorite

If you like good historical fiction in the old-fashioned swords clashing tradition, there are not many writers in the same league as Helena P. Schrader. I have read several of her books before and she is consistently both a good historian and a great writer. With this book, The Last Crusader Kingdom: Dawn of a Dynasty in Twelfth-Century Cyprus, I am officially a fan. Helena writes history exactly the way I like it. The research is solid. The depiction of everyday life is realistic. She fills in the gaps in the historical record with plausible, exciting, realistic scenes of what might have happened. I think that is the best a writer can do. She gets the history correct, then fills in what isn’t there, like a true artist.

I love the characters in The Last Crusader Kingdom. They are portrayed very well. We see good sides and bad ones. Many of these characters are like old friends to me because I first encountered them in Helena P. Schrader’s Jerusalem books. To be honest, this is one reason I follow good writers sometimes, to see the characters at different times in their lives, and to see how the next generation resembles their family. The plot is tight in this book. The plot is history itself. The themes are history, family, and dynasty. The writing is great, especially action sequences. Helena P. Schrader writes military encounters like a combat veteran. That is the highest praise I can give her or any writer when it comes to writing war. Another great book from a great historical writer.

Jessica Barbosa

The Last Crusader by Helena P. Schrader is set in the period following the third crusade. It starts with John d’Ibelin, eldest son of the brave Balian d’Ibelin, who negotiated the surrender of Jerusalem and the treaty of Ramla, and the beautiful Maria Comnena, the dowager queen of Jerusalem. John is undergoing his apprenticeship as squire to Lord Aimery de Lusignan, who was accused of treason and, as a consequence, was stripped of his title of Constable of Jerusalem. Despite the accusation, John remains loyal to Lord Aimery and follows him as he tries to make a new home for himself in Cyprus, an island under constant rebellion. Balian’s eldest son finds himself in the middle of helping Lord Aimery build a kingdom on ravaged lands, and fighting an uprising that could threaten to destroy the kingdom he and his family helped build.

The Last Crusader is a brilliant and exciting work that had me falling hard for it (hook, line, and sinker!) the moment I finished the first chapter. The way it was written made me feel like I was reliving history itself! It was compelling in its wording and well thought out. I could tell from the very first pages of the book how well researched and well planned out it was, from beginning to end. It explained how the kingdom of Cyprus was built on a devastated island and how the Ibelin family played an important role in its resurrection. Helena Schrader shaped history lessons into this breathtaking tale of loyalty and bravery, and filled in the blanks of the past with her own well thought out theories which blended seamlessly into the entire plot. This book has endless potential and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for the author and any more amazing works she has in store!

Rabia Tanveer

The Last Crusader Kingdom: Dawn of a Dynasty in Twelfth-Century Cyprus by Helena P. Schrader is a historical fiction novel about a young man who is trying not to live in the shadow of his great father and is intent on making his own name. The story follows John d'Ibelin, who is the son of the great Balian. John is taking his life day by day; he is a squire to a wealthy and powerful man. This man has big plans with his money and his power so that he can take over an island and build his own kingdom where he will rule and be the monarch.

But achieving a foothold on that island is not as easy as this man thinks. The rebellion has devastated the land and the Greeks are now waiting and ready to take down whoever gets in their way. Nothing can stop them, not an army and never a man who wants the island. This makes John’s job even more difficult. There is not much that he can do, or so he thinks. John has no idea that his future is brighter than he could ever imagine. Join John in his adventure and see what his future holds for him.

This is a fast paced novel that will have you so mesmerized that you will have no choice but to go with the flow. I was hooked right from the beginning. I liked John and I enjoyed his humility and confidence. The story was intense and supremely well crafted. The story took twists and turns and had me wanting more. I wish this had been longer because I did not want to say goodbye to John. Simply wonderful book.