My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book cover the period of the crusades that encompasses the reign of Queen Melisende and her father. It’s a fascinating real-life Game of Thrones kind of story, and you will find it surprising just how interwoven the society around the Crusades became. It’s not always about Infidels vs. Islam, there are far more complexities to it, even instances of Europeans and local populations working together. I have not spent a great deal of time reading about this period in history, but I did find myself wanting to understand and learn more once I was done.
The author spends a good deal of time exposing the role women played in this time period, showing how they were not always as subjugated the way modern society thinks. Queen Melisende being a prime example: she was the first woman ruler of Jerusalem, and the first to inherit the role (most Jerusalem kings were elected), as well as showing her prowess at the art holding the throne. She even beat her own husband at the game, not allowing him to rule solely on his own, requiring her to be part of all the decisions made. Throughout the book the author does her best to bring a new perspective to events, even challenging some of the standards taught about the characters on this historic stage. I enjoyed hearing her take on things as it gives an opportunity to reexamine what evidence still exists.
The book is written in an easy prose that is not dry, like so many history books, but flowed well enough to keep my pace moving through the pages. And the book isn’t terrible large, making it something that didn’t drag on forever. I highly recommend this book and the fresh look at this particular period of the 1st Crusade to anyone who has an interest in this moment from our history.