Quest For The True Cross
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Jerusalem is surrounded by the Saracens and its Christian inhabitants expect no mercy. An English Templar knight – Sir William de Mandeville – believes he is possessed by a demon, the Basilisk. Driven almost mad and disgraced, he is forced to return to England. Back in London, William discovers his father – the Earl of Essex - has been killed in a rebellion against King Stephen. His body is hanging in an apple tree, forbidden a Christian burial. The new earl, William’s older brother, tortures his own people to pay the king’s punitive debts. Together with his Syrian companion, Pathros, he is ordered to perform mundane tasks for the order on the Templar estates and never to fight again in their ranks. But he cannot accept this fate. When news comes that the Templars have lost their most holy relic to the Saracens, during the siege of Edessa, William resolves to get it back. In this way, he’ll win back his own honour and be able to bury his father. But the sacred object, The True Cross, has been taken far from Edessa to a Muslim city thousands of miles to the west called Al-Usbuna. The king of a new country – Portugal – is besieging the city, determined to take it for himself and Christ. It will become his capital and be renamed Lisbon. William leaves for his new crusade with Pathros and a boy thief called Nicholas who he has rescued from a public ordeal by fire. But he is in danger from the start. His brother the earl has sent bounty hunters to track him down for rescuing Nicholas and so breaking the law. The Templars in Portugal are under attack from both Muslims and jealous Catholic bishops. William falls in love with a woman who is not all that she seems. And the True Cross is lost somewhere deep within the maze of houses and alleys that is Al-Usbuna. A brutal siege begins with horrifying violence that tests William’s sanity. The demon returns to torment him. But William manages to get into the city with Pathros and Nicholas. What lies inside comes as an unexpected shock to the Templar. As the crusaders break through the walls, a terrible carnage ensures. Even when William thinks his quest is complete – his return to England throws up one last deadly challenge.