Crusader King A Novel of Baldwin IV and the Crusades – Susan Peek
This was the third book I have read by Susan Peek over the last few months. I have been greatly impressed by them all. I loved Saint Magnus The Last Viking, and found it very well written. And her handling of mental illness and especially PTSD in The King’s Prey: Saint Dymphna of Ireland was incredible. But this book was incredible. I could barely put it down. I devoured it in two sittings on the same day. And I must admit I went to bed much later than I should have for my alarm goes off at 5am to get up and ready for work. There was not a lot of sleep the night I finished this book!
I found it hard to categorize this book. It is historical fiction. So I count it as a fiction book. But so much actual history is woven into this book and it is so masterfully written I wish I could just call it history. This is the story of the “unusual life of King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem, the leper crusader king who – despite ascending to the throne at only 13, his early death at 24 and his debilitating disease – performed great and heroic deeds in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.” It is the story of faith, a story of friendship, and a story of how Christianity loses its way when corruption spreads within its ranks. From my university church history courses I was familiar with the basics of this story. But most of all it is the story of a man who sought to do God’s will no matter the personal cost and no matter the odds. For Baldwin IV obedience, trust, faith, and courage were the hallmarks of his life and his reign.
This book is published as teen fiction, but I know many adults who would love to read this book. The facts in this story will remind us that with faith and obedience we can accomplish the impossible. As mentioned this book is very very well written. I average over 100 books a year and this was one of the best historical fiction books I have ever read. It is right up there with Jack Whyte’s Sky Stone series a retelling of King Arthur, and Taylor R. Marshall’s Sword and the Serpent a retelling of Saint George’s life. This is masterful writing and any fan of history, historical fiction or even just great fiction reads will love this book. My only concern is that there are not a lot of Peek’s books left for me to read, I can only hope she publishes more for us to read soon.
Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2017 Catholic Reading Plan!
Books by Susan Peek:
Crusader King: A Novel of Baldwin IV and the Crusades
Saint Magnus The Last Viking
A Soldier Surrenders: The Conversion of Saint Camillus de Lellis
Animals of God
Animals of God, Volume Two
The Forgotten Christmas Saint: Saint Anastasia
The Man God Kept Surprising
Small for the Glory of God
The King’s Prey: Saint Dymphna of Ireland