Crusader King, A Novel of Baldwin IV and the Crusades, 2003, Tan Books and Publishers, Inc. Susan Peek, softcover. 191 pp.
In 1174 at only 13 years of age, Baldwin IV ascended to the Throne of Jerusalem. What makes his story so unusual, however, is not so much his age, but his extraordinary accomplishments while experiencing incredible hardship. He was a mastermind of battle strategies. Far more importantly, he was a good and virtuous person.
In Crusader King, we soon discover that being a member of a royal family is not all glamour and glory. It is also a responsibility and at times a heavy burden. Rather than focus on Baldwin’s outstanding military career, Susan Peek brings to life the qualities of his noble character in the midst of a corrupt court. Not only must he do battle on the field with the enemy, but he must be prepared to deal with evil villains within his own family and self-seeking comrades who seek the throne in every possible way.
Can he keep the clever and powerful, Turkish Sultan Saladin from destroying Jerusalem and the outlying states? How will he deal with his scheming sister, Princess Sibyl, manipulative mother, the Countess Lady Agnes, his ambitious cousin, Count Raymond of Tripoli, and troublemaker and outlaw, “Hawk of Kerak,” with his rebel army? Can he keep the various factions united and peaceful, while avoiding the petty rivalries from further splitting up the kingdom? Who can he trust?
Ironically, his body is becoming more and more corrupt each day with the decay of leprosy as the kingdom he is struggling to hold together is also becoming more corrupt.
An inspiring story of heroic virtue, Crusader King leaves readers wishing there were more high minded people like Baldwin IV living today. Maybe the challenge is to be one yourself?