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    Review of THE WIDOW OF JERUSALEM by Alan Gordon>


    St. Martin's Minotaur, March 2003

    Richard the Lion Hearted is slaughtering Saracen captives and plotting to seize Jerusalem without the slightest hope of being able to hold it once teh crusaders return to Europe and the Fools Guild desparately attempts to introduce reason into the equation. A key to the entire region is the city of Tyre--easilly defensible, rich, and with strategic value, Tyre is ruled by Conrad and his wife Isabelle, Queen of Jerusalem. A strong ruler like Conrad, one who planned to stay in the holy land rather than simply fight there, could be a key to peace with Saladin and a continued Christian presence in Palestine. But the forces against Conrad, perhaps including his own queen, are powerful indeed. Could fools Theophilos and Scarlet the Dwarf hope to cobble together a motley of self-interest that can create a peaceful middle-east?

    Author Alan Gordon (see more reviews of novels by Gordon) gives an intriguing spin to a fascinating and horrible period of history. The old Byzantine Empire is struggling but has not yet had its heart ripped out by the fourth crusade. Richard is the master of battle but is also a master of gratuitous violence. And the misnamed King of Jerusalem (because the crusader states had lost that city) is dead leaving no clear heir and too many claimants. But THE WIDOW OF JERUSALEM is not merely interesting as a historical view. Gordon makes the characters, including the historical nobility and the fictional jesters and servants, come alive. The mysterious death of a young woman propells Theophilos and Scarlet's band of trainee fools into an intrigue that will alter the control of this land, and the hearts of many.

    THE WIDOW OF JERUSALEM is written as a recounting of a story by Theophilos to his wife Claudia. Although this style tends to distance the reader from the story, in this case, it worked, allowing Gordon to introduce occasional side-notes of levity into the telling. Fans of historical fiction who have yet to make the acquaintence of Theophilos and the Jester's Guild will definitely want to do so. Gordon fans will be overjoyed to see Theophilos and Claudia in action yet again.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 4/02/03

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