Jerusalem: Kingdom Of Heaven by Richard Foreman

Genre: Historical fiction

Published: 2020

No. of Pages: 144

Best-selling novelist Richard Foreman once again delivers a thrilling retelling of history in Jerusalem: Kingdom of Heaven – the final instalment to his epic series The First Crusade. Foreman presents Jerusalem as a heavenly kingdom – a city in which the English crusaders are in desperate pursuit of, and which, in turn, the Muslim army must defend at all costs.

With brewing tensions between the civilisations as the Christians plan their attack and the Muslims seek to build their defence, the story homes in on the experiences of two crusaders. Edward Kemp, a skilled and widely respected knight, has also been given the task to reclaim stolen jewels from a Muslim inside the city. Despite his efforts towards the campaign and desire to secure the Holy City, Edward’s thoughts constantly wander back to his wife, and the life he could have in England – if he survives this. Edward’s melancholic and cynical aura is paired with his unwavering bravery and loyalty; successfully allowing for a unique character. 

Thomas, the second protagonist, juxtaposes Edward. A timid scribe, who is not too familiar with the horrors of war, finds himself in this unsettling siege which proves as a testament to his character growth. A great deal about Thomas’ character is divulged from his personal letters that he addresses to his father, where the narrative adopts an epistolary form and becomes first-person narration in some places. Thomas’s narration propels the story forward and contributes to the building anticipation of the final siege. Through these protagonists, Foreman successfully balances the brutality of war with a sense of humanity and warmth which readers can aptly connect with. 

Beneath the surface of the upcoming war lies deeper political tensions within the crusader’s army. Both Raymond and Godfrey desire to rule Jerusalem, which, of course, hinges on the outcome of the siege. With growing anxieties as they work together to plan the perfect attack against the Fatimids, there also lurks the possibility of betrayal. Foreman fittingly fuels this power struggle throughout the story, making the novel a true masterpiece of historical fiction.  

Foreman indeed provides the epic finale of the battle scene with everything and more – not missing a single detail. From the fine detailing of the scenery of the Holy City, to pilgrims and the innocent women and children who fall victim to the unforgiving horrors of a war. The battle is delivered from both the crusaders and the defender’s perspective, providing a satisfying viewpoint for the reader to be entrenched in all angles of the war, whilst simultaneously maintaining the heightened tension. Indeed, Jerusalem: Kingdom of Heaven is not for the faint-hearted. Pages are doused in blood and gore, and explicit descriptions of killings on the battlefield are what, ironically, bring the story to life. 

Jerusalem: Kingdom of Heaven is a fiery and unforgettable read. A perfect story for history and action lovers alike, or even for those in search for a page-turning thrill.

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