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  • By alastair
    Jul 23, 2012
    An absolutely outstanding book which gripped me from the opening sequence, set at the catastrophic battle of the Horns of Hattin in 1187, and the subsequent fall of Jerusalem triggering the third crusade. The action focuses on the years from then until the events of 1192, the initial pleas for help and the resulting cat and mouse game around Outremer. Much of the novel is revealed through the eyes of the protagonist Geoffrey of Moussiac as he assists the bishop of Tours create a chronicle of those events decades later. These conversations, interspersed the private pain of Geoffrey as he relives in his mind those parts of the tale he does not want to share, are enough to keep anyone on the edge of their seat. With the vignette of another new generation of crusaders dreaming of glory as they listen to the recollections of someone else who was there, I felt totally immersed in the period, and first read the book at a frantic speed. A subsequent reading repaid my effort handsomely, with... More > Allibone’s meticulous research not so much adding to, as creating my knowledge on this under explored period. Every bit as riveting as the machinations of the Tudor court for historical fiction aficionados, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I just hope he writes another!< Less
  • By julian
    Feb 14, 2012
    This is the story of ancient religious wars and of a man. Geoffrey de Moissac is one of a small group of fictional characters in Richard Allibone’s brilliant first novel, Outremer. Geoffrey is the narrative thread that Allibone uses to tie together the tale of the Third Crusade, where a French and English army try to reclaim for Christ the holy city of Jerusalem, recently taken by the Muslims under Saladin. One of the arts of the historical novelist is to create fictional characters with talents and motives that are sufficiently developed to allow them to be present at an unlikely series of great events without making this seem contrived. Alllibone accomplishes this with a great deal of skill. Geoffrey, as Allibone refers to him, is an unusually educated professional soldier born and raised in Outremer. This was the name, meaning overseas, given to the Christian cities held in the Levant following earlier crusades. These Christian enclaves were intended to be permanent and had... More > well-developed societies including their own royalty and nobility. An oath sworn by Geoffrey to his master, Count Raymond of Tripoli, provides the impetus for Geoffrey’s journey to a Europe he has never visited. There he plays a small but important role in uniting the Christian princes, including Richard the Lionheart, to set out on the third crusade to recapture Jerusalem. A history of the crusades is fascinating in itself and this would be reason enough to read Outremer. It is not a tale that easily finds resonance with the modern reader. Would you give your life in the protection of some religious relic or spend years of hardship fighting to occupy a far-off and hostile foreign land purely for its symbolism? Told only from Geoffrey’s medieval perspective of religious duty, there is no modern-day judgement to cloud the narrative, nor is there a laboured parallelism with the current state of western relations with the Middle East. There are footnotes where this aids clarity of language but Allibone does not feel the need to nursemaid the reader over every detail. For example, King Richard is clearly suffering from the symptoms of scurvy until Saladin’s gift of fruit brings him relief but it is left up to the reader to make the deduction. Richard Allibone is a classical scholar and the feeling of an ancient historical continuity pervades the novel. It is the events rather than the characters that dominate and he conveys them in a way that is epic without being overblown. Geoffrey de Moissac himself is the only character that the modern reader can truly hope to understand. All he yearns for when his duty is done is to return home to his family. Rather than this timeless human theme making the historical ideas of crusade more distant, instead it brings them closer.< Less
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Product Details

Second Edition
Richard Allibone
February 1, 2012
Hardcover (dust-jacket)
Interior Ink
Black & white
1.15 lbs.
Dimensions (inches)
6 wide x 9 tall
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