A Congress of Kings

Written by James Boschert
Review by Xina Marie Uhl

Cyprus, 1191. The year falls in the middle of the Third Crusade, in which European Christians descend on the Holy Land, and fight Muslim leader Salah ad-Din to recapture Jerusalem. The crusade itself may have been only partially successful from the Christian point of view, but not for lack of trying.

Lord Talon and his companion Reza live on a compound in Cyprus with their wives, families, and various and sundry fighting men. Though they live in peace, the tyrant Isaac Komnenos ravages the rest of Cyprus. Talon cannot stay out of the fray for long, and soon he finds himself on the side of England’s King Richard, who is fighting to save his sister Joanna from Komnenos. Talon continues to follow Richard’s footsteps into Acre, a familiar city with which he has a difficult past.

Boschert’s tale is gritty, bloody, and action-packed, with a compelling sense of place and time. As this is the ninth book of the series, there is considerable mention of past happenings, but the author does his best to contextualize them and the actions of the characters to remind the series reader of what happened. Since I did not read the first eight books, I found this distracting, but once the bulk of the story starts, it is easier to take. Talon is an enigmatic hero, honorable and fierce, and placed at the nexus of history due to his talents and influence. Though nine books makes for a considerable amount of adventure for one hero to experience, it seems that the author has even more in store for Talon in the future.