Galland makes history relevant in this epic tale of the Fourth Crusade. Her research uncovered fascinating similarities between that battle and today's war, showing us how history repeats itself. Not only is this a stirring story of men and women, of battles and politics, it's about human nature at its best and worst, full of drama and passion and inventive storytelling.
Told from a British vagabond minstrel's viewpoint, this tale begins in Venice as armies gather to follow the Pope to Zara, a port city on the Adriatic Sea and then on to the Holy Land to free Jerusalem from the infidels. For protection and companionship he joins a pious knight on his pilgrimage. Before leaving Venice he rescues a woman masquerading as an Arab princess, determined to take her home.
Problems begin when the troops stop in Zara and following the Doge's orders, sack the city. The lute player and his friends are caught up in the ruthless politics involved in the takeover, from the Doge to the Pope. But more intrigue awaits as they travel to Constantinople, the seat of the Byzantine Empire. There truths are revealed, alliances made and broken, and, as the city falls, so do many of their hopes. (Harper, Feb.,
656 pp., $14.95)