4 out of 5 stars
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A Congress of Kings is a historical fiction novel by James Boschert. This book is the ninth and final story in the Talon series, although this book can readily serve as a standalone novel. The plot is set primarily on the island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea during the early twelfth century. Talon is a lord in Cyprus, commanding a fierce entourage, well-versed in the arts of combat, who protect the mysterious and imposing castle called Kantara.
Emperor Isaac Komnenos is the savage and brutal ruler of Cyprus. He ravages those who dare to set foot on the island, but will this change when Richard, the King of England, lands on Cyprus' rugged shores? Through forced persuasion, Lord Talon and his men join the English and French armies in the bloody Third Crusade on the capital of Jerusalem, Acre, in the quest for the Holy Land. Will Talon and his mighty warriors survive the bloody conflict and make it home to the safety of Kantara?
My favorite part of this novel was the historical context of the Third Crusade. The violence and savagery in the name of God is horrifying to reflect upon. I was fascinated by the multiple perspectives within the story, as we heard from Lord Talon, the Emporer, King Richard of England, and the Kurdish commander of the Arab forces in Jerusalem named Salah ad-Din, among others. The author was able to create a well-rounded story through multiple well-developed characters, which reflects the author's dedication to the accuracy of the period.
My only dislike of this book was the lack of editing. I found many errors throughout the storyline, and the text could use additional rounds of editing for grammatical and spelling errors. Aside from this issue, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I would love to begin the series with book one to learn more about Lord Talon's early life and training.
I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars. I had to remove one star for the lack of editing. Free from error, this book would receive a resounding five out of five stars for the author's attention to historical accuracy and dedication to character and plot development. The author included a map of Acre and a note at the end of the book about the historical accuracies and creative licensing taken throughout the book, a goldmine for historical fiction fanatics.
I recommend this novel to all readers interested in historical fiction, particularly those intrigued by this period and the history of the Crusades. I was unfamiliar with the history of Cyprus and the specifics of the Third Crusade. I not only enjoyed the narrative but learned some history while reading. I caution young readers against choosing this book due to the violence throughout the story. There are vivid scenes of tragedy in battle, which aren't suitable for young readers.
A Congress of Kings
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