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Cadnum, Michael. The leopard sword.

Penguin Putnam, Viking. 224p. c2002. 0-670-89908-9. $15.99. JSA *

In the acclaimed prequel, The Book of the Lion (reviewed in KLIATT in May 2000), Cadnum conveyed both the spectacle and the horror of the Crusades through the eyes of a young squire, Edmund. Though this sequel can stand alone, it takes up where the first leaves off, as the siege of Acre has ended and the "sick and war-battered" knights and their squires begin the long sea journey home to England. The narrator this time is Edmund's friend Hubert, the 18-year-old squire to injured Sir Nigel. Their ship is chased by Saracen galleys, and shortly the returning Crusaders are in a fight for their lives at sea. On board, a thieving servant makes trouble, too, and in a stop at the Greek island of Chios Hubert and his knight engage in a violent joust with a nasty knight and his squire over a suspected theft. Back on board again, their ship sinks just offshore from Italy, and they lose all their treasure. On foot, the embattled Crusaders go to Rome to meet King Richard's envoy there, and Hubert falls for the envoy's daughter. They accompany her on a dangerous voyage across Rome, whose streets are filled with outlaws. Hubert is tempted to stay, but duty calls, and he returns to England. There Prince John is trying to take over the throne and Edmund is in danger of arrest and execution. Hubert must engage in a trial by combat to save Edmund's life.

This stirring, violent tale of life in the Middle Ages is replete with details of food, garments, armor and battle, bringing to life the adventures and tribulations of the Crusaders. Cadnum continues his exploration of "the call that war has on young people ... This terrible paradox--that caring, responsible individuals can engage in acts of brutality--both baffles and fascinates me." This exciting and carefully researched historical fiction will fascinate readers, too.
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Author:Rohrlick, Paula
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 2002
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