The second book in the Crusades Trilogy by Jan Guillou, The Templar Knight, is every bit as good as the first, The Road to Jerusalem. We follow Arn Magnusson, born in 1150 to an aristocratic Swedish family and educated at a Cistercian monastery. He has become a master archer and swordsman under the tutelage of the giant Brother Guilbert, a former knight.
In this book, Arn, who has been sent to the Holy land for 20 years as a punishment, becomes a highly respected Knight Templar in the Holy Land. As an occupation officer in Palestine, he discovers that the infidel Saracens don’t appear to be quite as brutish and uncivilized as they are portrayed in Christian propaganda. On the contrary, in love and war, he learns from the example of his noble adversary Saladin that there’s another side to the teachings of the Cistercians. At the same time, events in his native Sweden signal that something important is about to happen.
The Templar Knight is a brilliant and very dramatic recreation of the world of the crusades, and is full of suspense and intrigue. It also has an extremely appealing young Swedish hero and a very touching love story.
The book is excellently written and translated (by Steven T. Murray), has interesting and intelligent interpretations of the historical subject matter, and is very suspenseful. This is one of the best series of historical novels of the medieval age, and an exciting and extremely entertaining read. One of my personal favorites, which I strongly recommend!
“Thrilling and inspiring, bloody and romantic; utterly of its time and utterly modern” — Tom Holland