The Land Beyond the Sea

Sharon Kay Penman. Putnam, $32 (688p) ISBN 978-0-399-16528-3
Penman follows up her Plantagenet series with an engrossing saga of King Baldwin IV and his threatened Crusader state in 12th-century Jerusalem. When Baldwin is 10 years old, his tutor, William of Tyre, discovers that the boy has no feeling in one of his arms. Fearing Baldwin might have leprosy, William consults a Syrian doctor, who confirms the diagnosis, drawing wrath from Baldwin’s father, King Amalri (“If I ever hear you say that my son could be a leper, I’ll cut your tongue out myself!”), who resolves that Baldwin will become a fierce warrior against the Saracens. As Baldwin comes of age and receives treatment, his resilience defies his court’s expectations. When Amalri dies while Baldwin is still too young to rule, a regent executing power on his behalf makes a compromising pact with the Arabians, which Baldwin reverses once he turns 15 and assumes the throne. He receives sound advice from William and warrior Lord Balain d’Ibelin, leading him to withdraw from the Arabian peace treaty. Baldwin’s success in keeping the would-be Mediterranean and Muslim invaders at bay makes the novel a riveting page-turner, and Penman’s well-honed skill for weaving deeply researched details into epic tales is on full display. Fans of medieval historical fiction won’t want to miss this. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 01/13/2020
Release date: 03/03/2020
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 978-1-101-62175-2
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