Following The Betrothed,Sir Walter Scott's first novel depicting the Crusades,The Talisman is considered one of the greatest works of the famous English author.The second novel in the Tales of the Crusaders series,The Talisman depicts the end of the Third Crusade,with a truce having formed between the Crusaders and the armies of Sultan Saladin.
Sir Kenneth is one of the main characters presented right from the start in the novel,as he parts for Syria,and is acquainted with a Saracen Emir,with whom he formed a friendly bond on his way towards visiting the hermit Theodoric of Engaddi - for whom he had vital information to convey that had to reach the Pope.
In the meantime,Richard the Lionheart had fallen ill with an attack of fever.This turn of events had put the entire Crusade in danger,and it was up to Sir Kenneth to deliver a physician who could help the King.
Following this course of events,Sir Kenneth falls into disgrace and barely escapes with his life after having being entrusted with,and failing in his task of protecting the English flag during a troubling night.We are then guided to follow Kenneth's adventures as the Emir's slave and later on,at the court of Saladin himself, who treats him kindly.
There are several differences between The Talisman and other 19th century novels focusing on the Crusades.While faithfully depicting the spirit of chivalry and sense of religious duty that has led to the creation of the earliest chivalry orders, and later to the Crusades themselves,the book mainly focuses on intrigue and static strategies,as well as on seemingly less significant issues that,however,end up having deep and widespread repercussions.
Anyone interested in learning about the Crusades,their general spirit and their historical accounts will be more than happy with this fictional,yet original and authentically written account of the events surrounding King Richard the Lionheart and his troops.
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