Envoy of Jerusalem: A Biographical Novel of Balian d'Ibelin
By: Helena P. Schrader
Publication Date: August 2016
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: August 23, 2016
A historical trilogy needs a great deal of substance. When it comes to this writer and her work, this particular reviewer once stated that for a trilogy comprised of very large books, a writer needs to pick a subject that will entrance, excite and lure readers so deeply, so emotionally, that they never want to stop reading. Helena P. Schrader has done just that throughout this entire ride. And now...the grand finale. Beginning in Knight of Jerusalem and continuing in Defender of Jerusalem, this is one of the best historical series ever written.
Readers of these books have walked through the confusing, romantic and amazing time of the Crusades, meeting both valiant characters and others whose souls were as dark as night. Everybody had a plan back then, and would do anything to achieve it. In the last book, readers watched Jerusalem under siege by the Kurdish leader, the sultan of Egypt and Damascus, Salah ad-Din Yusuf. He wormed his way through life and combined two forces, Shiite Egypt and Sunnite Syria, into one major force that went against the Christians. King Baldwin IV was fighting leprosy all his life, yet had to find his strength and prepare for battle. And main character, Balian d’Ibelin, was still the lone source of loyalty to the king.
Now, in Envoy of Jerusalem, the Christian city of Jerusalem is solidly in the hands of Salah ad-Din. With his takeover, the people who are poor and cannot pay a ransom for their freedom are being sold into slavery. In Tyre, in October of 1187, Balian and his wife, Maria, are among the sufferers. It does seem as if the Holy Land is gone, but Balian’s heroic belief and strength has him taking it upon himself to try and negotiate the freedom of the Christians still left in the city.
There is hope. Of course, with hope comes more battles. Beloved man and warrior of many, Richard the Lionheart, now graces the scene with his army and takes his leap into legendary status. He takes center stage, leading the fight to reclaim the Holy Land. All through the battles Balian becomes the ultimate mediator, seeing the hope yet also dealing with the horrors that come as the French and English people, as well as the Christian and Muslim ideas clash.
A very detailed drama full of historical truths intertwined with a fantastically written tale, Balian solidifies himself as a marvelous character; one that was able to challenge all the supposed heroes and villains of his time as he married a dowager queen and brought about an astounding dynasty.
Begin at the beginning, however. Not because this is ‘too’ confusing to be a standalone, but because every page of this series will inspire a reader to move through the battles, lay eyes on these crusader kingdoms, and cheer for a man whose name could not compete with those in high places, yet one who owned the strongest will you can possibly imagine.
Quill says: The zest this author has for her subject is dramatic, intense and something that will never be forgotten!