Another spellbinding tale by Professor Helena P. Schrader. This one is the first book in the trilogy about Balian of Ibelin. This is another man of whom we have scant information for as a youth. As with Leonidas of Sparta, he was the younger son and thus, not expected to inherit, so who would have thought he'd rise to such great heights?
We know about his father, his mother and his brothers, as each had played fairly important parts in the Kingdom of Jerusalem. We know that Balian and his brother played "prominent roles" at the battle of Montgisard, though the chronicles are not specific about details. We also don't have details about the exact nature of Balian's relationship with the King, Baldwin IV either, but we do know that the King granted Balian two distinct marks of favor; permitting Balian's marriage to a very important Dowager Queen and his allowing Balian -- and not another important male relative -- to carry his heir, Baldwin V, to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher for the royal ceremony.
Using these facts, along with others found here and there, Professor Schrader spins an intriguing tale of Balian's life and accomplishments, right up to his marriage to Maria Zoe Comnena and the birth of their first child. That's where this first book ends.
There's murder, intrigue, backstabbing, plotting, fight scenes and family arguments, along with more touching scenes to tug at one's emotions. I would have read this book completely through -- as I did her book, "A Boy of the Agoge" -- but this books was thicker, so I was forced to "wait until tomorrow" to find out what happened. LOL
Another excellent treatise that I hardily recommend to anyone interested in the real Balian, rather than the fictional Balian of Ridley Scott. The man makes an excellent movie, but he's just a bit weak on his facts. The real Balian is even more interesting and rose to great heights.