*I received a free copy of this book, with thanks to the author. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
B.R.A.G. MEDALLION HONOREE
Blurb: Emperor Frederick II, called “enlightened” by historians yet decried as a despot by contemporaries, unleashes a civil war that tears the Holy Land apart. The heir to an intimidating legacy, a woman artist, and a boy king are caught up in the game of emperors and popes. Set against the backdrop of the Sixth Crusade, Rebels against Tyranny takes you from the harems of Sicily to the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, from the palaces of privilege to the dungeons of despair. This is a timeless tale of youthful audacity taking on tyranny―but sometimes courage is not enough….
Helena P. Schrader skilfully blends historical fact and fiction to create a compelling narrative of conflict between the Ibelins and…well, just about everyone at some time or another!
I’m not familiar with the details of this period and place in history, but I was drawn into Rebels Against Tyranny by the human stories: love, friendship, loyalty, sacrifice, torture and honour. Beirut and Philip are admirable and command respect, and Balian and Eschiva are impulsive and emotional, but heroically brave. In stark contrast, Barlais and the Emperor are cruel, cowardly and violent. There is no doubt which side the author, and reader, are rooting for. Interestingly, when I looked up the history of this period I found that this is a very different perspective – particularly of Frederick II – than usual.
There is plenty of action here too. Jousts, intrigue, torture and epic battles/sieges all feature as the conflict between various factions increases. There are daring escapes and noble sacrifices, along with the courtly words and honourable deeds.
Rebels Against Tryanny is obviously ideal for fans of historical fiction (particular of the Crusades), but I can also recommend it for fans of a good story that brings said history to life.
Philip pressed him. “In what way is Balian unworthy of his name? He is bright. Sharp as a whip, actually, even if he doesn’t have a scholarly bone in his body. He’s courageous almost to a fault. He’s a superb horseman and an outstanding swordsman–even if he’s less good with a lance and I wouldn’t want to trust my life to his archery. He’s generous and, for a seventeen-year-old, devout. True, he enjoys his wine, but he doesn’t get belligerent when he drinks too much, just mellow and sleepy.” Philip fell silent running out of things to say.
“He’s too emotional,” John answered, looking Philip straight in the eye. “He’s ruled by his emotions rather than his reason. He feels before he thinks. That is dangerous.”
– Helena P. Schrader, Rebels Against Tyranny
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