Rebels against Tyranny

Civil War in the Crusader States

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
456 Pages
Reviewed on 09/14/2018
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Helena P. Schrader earned a PhD in History from the University of Hamburg with a ground-breaking biography of a leader of the German Resistance to Hitler. After a number of years in the private sector, she spent was commissioned in the U.S. Foreign Service and served as an American diplomat in Africa and Europe. She retired in December 2018.

Helena has published numerous works of fiction and non-fiction over the last 15 years, most recently focusing on the history of the crusader states. Her Jerusalem Trilogy, a series of biographical novels set in the Holy Land in the late 12th century, won twelve literary accolades. Her next fiction project is a series exploring the struggle between the Hohenstaufens and the barons of Outremer. She is currently working on a non-fiction book, "Beyond the Seas: The Story of the Crusader States," intended to bring together diverse recent scholarship on the Latin East in a single volume aimed at non-academics.

For details visit or follow her author blog: for updates on current works in progress, recent reviews and excerpts. For more on the crusader kingdoms and Balian d’Ibelin visit: or follow her blog at:

    Book Review

Reviewed by Edith Wairimu for Readers' Favorite

It is the 13th century, and a match between Sir Amaury Barlais and Sir Toringuel sees Amaury defeated. This failure sparks even more hatred from Amaury and this time he swears his revenge. Barlais and his two supportive friends, Cheneché and Bethsan, leave and later befriend Frederick II Hohenstaufen, feeding him lies about the Ibelins. Balian, the eldest son of John, Lord of Beirut, is still young when he witnesses the match. Being the eldest, his father is continuously hard on him, knowing that Balian will inherit his position as Lord of Beirut and head of the Ibelin family. When Balian encounters Frederick II, he is appalled at the monarch’s indifference to his uncle’s death and that of his own wife, Yolanda. This is the first of many encounters of Frederick’s inhumanity in Rebels against Tyranny by Helena P. Schrader.

The characters in the novel are very well drawn. Even though they are many in number, each of them fits into the plot and their roles are well expounded. The plot ties together and is brought alive by the vivid scenes and descriptions. Helena P. Schrader presents the way of life in the Crusader states and the turbulent battles the Ibelins forged against the tyrant. As much as historians point to Frederick II with much admiration, Schrader’s work helps in illuminating the more objective accounts written by Frederick’s contemporaries. The beautiful strand of romance in the plot made the book even more appealing. Rebels against Tyranny: Civil War in the Crusader States by Helena P. Schrader is a must-read for all lovers of history. It is not only revealing but also entrancing.

Divine Zape

Rebels against Tyranny: Civil War in the Crusader States by Helena P. Schrader is a great read for fans of historical novels with a refined sense of conflict —in fact, the conflict is phenomenal! A narrative set against the backdrop of a turbulent moment in history, a time of emperors and the Crusaders, the game of power and the hypocrisy of the Church. Frederick II Hohenstaufen, married to Yolanda, daughter of John de Brienne and Queen of Jerusalem, is a despot with an insatiable longing for power, a longing resulting in the tyranny that brings civil war to the Holy Land. Readers are plunged into a historical narrative filled with intrigue, drama, and dirty politics, with compelling characters like Balian II, Baldwin, Isabella, and King Henry, Emperor Frederick II, and many more.

The story is packed with action and intrigue, written in prose that is impeccably good. Helena P. Schrader has a unique gift for setting, transporting readers through landscapes and locales that are filled with history, creating backstories and subplots that enrich the narrative with an enduring sense of suspense. It’s a time of kings and emperors, and the reader will be thrilled by the way the “underdogs” are depicted in the story. The political, religious, and cultural themes are explored alongside themes of love and the struggle for power. Rebels against Tyranny: Civil War in the Crusader States is exciting and absorbing, crafted with a strong plot structure, a powerful conflict, and a setting that offers the best escape for fans of this genre. It’s stellar!

Anne-Marie Reynolds

Rebels Against Tyranny: Civil War in the Crusader States by Helena P Schrader is a historical story, fictional yet factual. Frederick II Hohenstaufen, emperor and dictator, is a man who cares only for himself. Lord of Beirut, John d’Ibelin was once loyal to the emperor until Hohenstaufen detains his sons, Baldwin and Balian. Events are set in motion, a civil war that will do irreparable damage to the Holy Land. The emperor wants the King of Cyprus, Henry I, on his side but only as a pawn in his dangerous games. While many are fooled by the pompous monarch, the Ibelins are not and they will not give in as easily as the emperor and his cohorts want. From Sicily to Cyprus to Jerusalem, holy war is about descend and the courage of a young king may not be enough to win.

I found Rebels Against Tyranny: Civil War in the Crusader States by Helena P Schrader to be a deep read. This is a fictional story woven around historical facts and set in the mid-13th century. Helena has written an in-depth story that brings the time of the Crusader states to life, a time that has not seen much in the way of factual accounts written. I found the characters to be reasonably well developed and the story line does bring out details of what the political mood was probably like in those times. The story itself romps along at a fair pace and there is plenty of detail and action for a reader to get their teeth into. It is very clear that a good deal of research was needed for the book and that does show in the story. For those who love historical stories, this is a great start to the series.