The Last Crusader Kingdom: Dawn of a Dynasty in Twelfth-Century Cyprus
by Helena P. Schrader

"My thesis and the basis of this novel is this: while the Brothers Baldwin and Balian d’Ibelin were inveterate opponents of Guy de Lusignan, they were on friendly terms with Aimery de Lusignan."

Helena P. Schrader, historian, and author of the critically acclaimed Jerusalem Trilogy, brings her deep understanding of complex eras and considerable writing talent to bear in this fictional treatment of the Ibelin and Lusignan families in the late twelfth century. Many facts about this era have been “lost to the mists of time,” and the author’s keen-eyed interpretation opens a once-closed window upon the Kingdom of Cyprus and its ties to Greece, France, King Richard I of England, the Knights Templar, and the Kingdom of Jerusalem during the years 1193-1198.

The book is both a detailed examination of nobility and an overview of life in this particular place and time, and it will please young adult audiences as well as more mature readers due to the coming-of-age focus upon John d’Ibelin (1179-1236). John is the eldest son Balian d'Ibelin—legendary for his heroic defense of Jerusalem against Saladin in 1187—and Maria Comnena, a Byzantine princess and dowager Queen of Jerusalem. He is now 13 and serves as a squire to Aimery de Lusignan, who is married to John’s cousin, Eschiva. The story begins in April 1193, when Aimery is Constable of Jerusalem and abruptly arrested for alleged treason. The young squire’s duty is to race to his father with the news, an event which forever changes the lives of many in the Houses of Ibelin and Lusignan.

The intertwined fates of all concerned in this struggle for recognition during the founding of the Kingdom of Cyprus make for a lively, highly-detailed plot. Supplemented by an author’s introduction, a cast of characters, genealogies, regional maps, historical notes, and a glossary to assist reader comprehension, the sweeping saga is a daunting read but one carefully crafted by a masterful mind. Connoisseurs of authenticity, accuracy, and strong storytelling that considers all genders in historical fiction will not be disappointed.

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