Wednesday, 24 March 2010

HISTORICAL FICTION: Birth of the Kingdom - Jan Guillou


The third volume of the crusades trilogy from bestselling Swedish author Jan Guillou. Arn de Gotha has become one of the most feared warriors of the Knights Templar fighting to liberate Palestine with the Crusaders. At the great battle for Jerusalem, a mammoth and bloody struggle where the Christians were finally defeated, Arn is saved from certain death by Saladin, his longtime enemy and trusted friend. Ravaged by wounds and sickness, Arn is at last granted his wish: to return at last to his homeland, it plagued by endless wars. Arn is determined to find her - the woman for whom he was exiled. He must discover if their love could endure so long a separation, and if it can sustain his new quest: the create a new people, a new society, both Christian and Muslim, both craftsmen and warriors, with Arn at its helm, fighting for peace in a savage land. A fitting conclusion to a great trilogy, a bestseller all over Europe, and now the basis for a major film.


Whilst Jan is becoming well known around the world for this series I’ve had a had time coming to terms with it. Not that its not got a great outline or plot but personally I’ve felt that he spends way too much time in the characters minds rather than concentrating upon the action and story arc within the novel.

This was the major problem with the first book for me, its been a bugbear into the second and its almost now unbearable in the third. However, if you can ignore this, the title is readable enough with well researched historical references alongside strong aristocratic background for the principle characters. Add to the mix reasonable combat sequences alongside some interesting character interaction and it’s an acceptable conclusion to the series. If you still have problems with it you may well be better waiting for the film.

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