Crusade
Elizabeth Laird




Almost a thousand years ago, a storm swept through Europe. Preachers travelled through every land, stirring the people up to leave their farms, cottages and castles, and embark on a great Crusade to Palestine. They wanted to capture the city of Jerusalem, Christianity's most holy site.

The people who lived in Palestine were mostly Muslim, but there were smaller groups of Jews and Eastern Christians too. They had all lived peacefully alongside each other for centuries, and Jerusalem was a holy city to all of them.

In England, in the service of a local knight, Adam joins the Crusade to reclaim the Holy Land. Soon determination to strike down the enemy burns within him...

In the Holy Land, Salim, a doctor's apprentice, works in the heart of the mighty Sultan Saladin's camp. He never imagined he would join the battle against the barbaric invaders...

When Adam and Salim meet, preconceptions and prejudices are challenged. This thought-provoking book makes us ask questions which are just as relevant today as they were a thousand years ago.

"A truly believable voice and wonderfully written story - we couldn't put down this historical page turner." Costa Book Awards 2007
Adéle , from The Henrietta Barnett School London

This is two different stories, from two sides of the Crusade, [of two boys who] have two separate jobs. One is a doctor’s [assistant] and the other is a dog-boy, squire and groom. They each have different experiences and only occasionally do they meet.

 

This gave a amazing idea of what happened during a crusade, and showed both sides of the crusades. It also shows two completely different jobs and love lives, all shown by two boys. It had two clear story lines that connected and were both enjoyable, with clear descriptions of the different characters. This was a serious book which worked well with the background and emotions the author has tried to set out.

 

This book was dull in places where nothing new was happening. It was occasionally confusing as it was jumping between characters. However it would have been impossible for the author to avoid this, as two different charactors are always confusing

 

I thought this was a good book as it was interesting without being a textbook. It showed different parts of the war and of life in that time. It also showed the suffering of war.

Oscar, from University College School London

Crusade by Elizabeth Laird tells the story of the Crusade from both sides of the war. Salim, a Muslim boy, had recently been apprenticed to a kindly Jewish doctor – Dr. Musa – when hordes of Christians (including Adam – a boy from England) are stirred up by over-zealous priests to reclaim the Holy Land. The action predominantly takes place around Acre, a city not far from Jerusalem, and shows the effects that war (not to mention ignorance) can have on people.

 

Adam’s hope and optimism of finding a better life seems to become a reality when he joins the Crusade and goes to the Holy Land. But instead of seeing devils he begins to see traces of humanity in the peoples whose land he inhabits. The possibility that this humanity does exist is only pondered occasionally which certainly seems to reflect reality more. The thoughts and indeed the actions on both sides are throughout completely believable.

 

As both boys join their respective armies (although neither of them really at the front line) you can see the atrocities of the Crusade and indeed all wars. However, despite that, it also shows lives can still carry on being lived fairly normally and feelings and emotions don’t really change that much either.

 

This is a fantastic book as it begins to give an insight into the mediaeval mind in a captivating and authentic way.

Tom, from University College School London

The Crusade is a book about two boys: Adam, a European dog-boy and Salim, who is Arabic, and a doctor’s apprentice. Adam’s story begins just as his mother dies, leaving him orphaned; he seeks work at the castle of the local lord, and becomes a dog-boy there. However, he is soon taken up in the religious fervour of the crusades, and leaves England with a small army from the castle to attack the ‘Holy Land’. Salim is the unloved son of a rich merchant in Acre; he is apprenticed to a doctor but is pulled into Sultan Saladin’s army, to tend the sick and injured, in the great battle against the invading Europeans.

 

The use of two characters, one from each side, worked very effectively, of course showing us both view-points and cultures. However, this did, painfully predictably, lead to the scene of Adam and Salim meeting and becoming friends and realising that the other side aren’t such bad guys really and so on and so forth… it is, of course, somewhat unavoidable, so maybe I’m just being a bit pedantic. Both of the main characters worked well, they were both reasonably interesting characters – and very likeable – and their relationship with each other and those around them developed very realistically and understandably.

 

Overall, it was a very good book: well written, with good characters and relationships, a surprisingly good plot and a wonderful ability to keep you reading. It manages, despite what I whined about earlier, to be very un-clichéd, which for a book with this subject is exceptionally surprising. The Crusade’s underlying themes of tolerance and peace are very admirable, and they are given effectively. This book is definitely worth the read!