28 Feb 2015

PILGRIM: THE GREATEST CRUSADE.


PILGRIM: THE GREATEST CRUSADE by JAMES JACKSON.

SOURCE: Ex-library stock.

INNER FRONT COVER BLURB: 1212. The forces of Christendom are on the march again. There is much to avenge. Twenty-five years ago, the Christian army lay shattered on the desolate plain of the Horns of Hattin, slaughtered by Mighty Saladin, ruler of the Moslem world. The Holy Land seemed lost.

But now the Pope has called for crusade. Many take the cross for pilgrimage and battle. Among them is Otto, a young noble in search of his vanished Hospitaller Knight father, and Brother Luke, a mysterious Franciscan on a mission of his own.And then there are the children - tens of thousands of them, pledged to recapture Jerusalem and find the True Cross, the holiest of relics lost to the forces of Islam. But nothing can prepare them for what they will face.

From the island-fortress of the Templar's to the mountain redoubts of the murderous Assassins, from the secret lair of leper knights to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, the pilgrim's journey is beset by treachery and horror, violence and dread. There are allies at hand - the beautiful Lady Matilda of Acre; the wayward Sergeant Hugh, a former bodyguard to Lionheart himself - but they may not be enough. For dangers press in and the way ahead is perilous. Some will not survive.

What they seek is Truth. What they find is Hell.

FIRST SENTENCE {Beginning: 4 July 1187. The Holy Land}: They should have known it would end this way, might have guessed when the old Arab crone had cursed them as they departed camp and the fire they set beneath her failed to catch.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 39}: Children populated the fruit trees like feeding insects, revelling in the abundance, shaking free the cherries and plums to waiting hands below. It was a day of rest and forage, of rejoicing in sudden bounty. Feet could be bound or cooled in streams, limbs stretched beneath laden bowers, ravenous hunger sated for a while. They had changed much in the three hundred miles since Cologne. Weakness had gripped every step; hollow-eyed gauntness had set in. Yet they endured.

MY THOUGHTS: Expecting more about a children's crusade, what I wasn't expecting was how graphically violent and sexual this book would be.

OK, so arguably more violent times, I get that, but why the need for such gratuitous, gory violence on such a large scale? And why such explicit sex scenes? Sometimes less really is more and I think the author could have credited his readers with a bit of imagination rather than laying out certain acts in such detail.

With the potential to be a really good read Pilgrim was let down by just about every facet you care to mention. Dubious historical details, poorly drawn characters, appalling dialogue and yet it wasn't this that bothered me the most. Unforgivable lazy and stereotypical writing at best, downright offensive at worst. Given the culture at the time I could understand one of the characters describing a Jewish banker/money lender as such but for the author to write '.... the old Jew would not anticipate anything beyond the scope of his hook nose and basic greed'? As I said lazy and stereotypical characterisation if nothing else.


7 comments:

Kelly said...

What a shame this one fell short so badly. The "memorable moment" you shared is so wonderfully descriptive!

Guess I don't need to add this one to my wish list.

Melliane said...

Not sure it's something that I would have read I confess. Maybe on TV yes but otherwise I don't easily go to this kind of books.

Brian Joseph said...

The Crusades were so very interesting. It is such a pity that this is so badly put together and written. I wonder if there is any good historical fiction based upon the Children's Crusade.

Brandi Kosiner said...

Aw sorry to hear this one wasn't as good as you'd hoped. Sounds like they needed more moderation

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Sorry you didn't like this one. It doesn't sound like the right fit for me all around.

The Bookworm said...

That's too bad, I don't like gratuitous violence and stereotyping either. I had an issue with the last book I read concerning stereotypes.

Literary Feline said...

Hmm. I can see why you had problems with this book. I'm sorry it was not better for you.