by Robyn Young


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Crusade by Robyn Young

The second volume in the internationally bestselling Brethren trilogy, Crusade is gripping historical fiction that “grows more relevant by the day” (Raymond Khoury, bestselling author of The Last Templar)

An international bestseller, Crusade is a fast-paced medieval adventure portraying the rising tide of political pressures that led East and West to war in the 13th century.

After years of bloodshed, peace finally reigns in the Middle East, in part due to the efforts of Will Campbell and a mysterious group known as the Brethren. However, a cabal of ruthless Western merchants aims to reignite war in the Holy Land, while Prince Edward—once a trusted member of the Brethren—has made a promise to the pope: he will take the Cross to Jerusalem and lead a new crusade. To survive the escalating conflict and protect his family, Will must harness all his knowledge and courage.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780452289604
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/29/2008
Series: Brethren Trilogy
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 1,232,055
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Robyn Young has worked as a creative writing teacher, financial advisor, folk singer, and music festival organizer, and has traveled extensively in Europe and Egypt. She has a masters in creative writing from the University of Sussex.

What People are Saying About This

Steve Berry

Wonderful ... loaded with atmosphere, action, and intrigue... The Crusades come alive. (Steve Berry, bestselling author of The Templar Legacy)

Raymond Khoury

Irresistible...Teeming with spirited characters, treachery and betrayal, Brethren captures a story that grows more relevant by the day. (Raymond Khoury, bestselling author of The Last Templar)

Reading Group Guide

NOTE: We recognize that reading is a personal experience, and we hope that the author interview and questions below will provide a springboard to provoke a lively discussion.



For years, a secret society within the Templars, the Anima Templi, has dedicated itself to the preservation of peace between the three great religions of the world. William Campbell, one of the newest members to grace the halls of the Temple at Acre, has been intricately involved with the Anima Templi’s activities, but his past actions have caused his place within the society to be tenuous at best. Now, caught between trying to prove himself worthy of both the Templars and Anima Templi, and haunted by his past, he believes he’s stumbled upon a plot that could mean the end of the fragile peace that exists between the Muslim empire of the East and the Christian Crusaders.

At the same time, Kalawun al-Alfi, chief lieutenant to Sultan Baybars, is trying to maintain the peace from Cairo. Others in the royal court favor driving the Christians from the Middle East for good, but fortunately for Kalawun, Baybars is more preoccupied with keeping the Mongols from invading and taking any more of his vast empire. The Sultan won’t be distracted for long, though: his own son and heir, Baraka Khan, is being influenced and manipulated by members of Baybars’ court, and may prove the biggest challenge to the peace that Kalawun has fought so hard for.

In this sequel to Brethren, internationally bestselling author Robyn Young has continued to bring 13th century Europe and the Holy Land to life, peopling it with vivid characters that are complex, changing, and constantly engaging. Crusade is an epic within an epic, about the battle for the Kingdom of Jerusalem, and the political powers, truth seekers, and betrayers in the Middle East and beyond.


Robyn Young is the author of the internationally bestselling Brethren trilogy, which includes Brethren, Crusade, and the forthcoming novel Requiem. She has traveled extensively in Europe and Egypt and has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Sussex. During an eclectic career, she has been a creative writing teacher, financial advisor, folk singer, and music festival organizer. She lives in Brighton, England.


Q. Why historical fiction? What attracts you to the genre, and what do you see as its pitfalls and dangers (as a writer)?

It was the story of the Templars that first attracted me, rather than the genre itself. The interest in history I now have has been a result of this project rather than its cause. When I began work on the Brethren trilogy I hadn’t studied history since school. Back then it was Victorian architecture and Vietnam, neither of which resonated much in me. History was just facts and figures. I hadn’t understood that history is a story, is filled with stories, stretching back, decade upon decade, foundations of our culture, our countries, ourselves. I have always had a love of storytelling and it was immensely gratifying to see these rich narratives unfolding before me as I embarked on the research for the novels. There are, of course, pitfalls with this genre, and the further back in time you go the more challenging it can become. For a start, it’s very easy to get swept up in the history and the detail, more difficult to know when to stop reading and begin writing. Coupled with this, historical writers have to be wary of just how much research they put into the final text. I used only around a quarter of what I actually researched in the finished books. Too much detail can slow the pace of the story and so you’re always walking a fine line between being the historian and being the novelist. Obviously, there’s also the danger of getting your facts wrong, or not being able to easily find the information you want, which can mean delays. I do a great deal of work to ensure accuracy, and as a safety net I employ a historian to read the manuscript.

Q. Similarly, what attracted you to this particular time period? What about the Crusades appealed to your imagination? Did you intend to write about a period that reflected many of the same tensions that we’re experiencing today between the East and the West?

The knights initially attracted me to the period, in particular their dramatic downfall at the hands of the King of France in 1307, when they were accused of heresy. But soon after I began researching the Order of the Temple, the story expanded to include the great events and people of this time: the Crusades, royal assassinations, court intrigue, and political turmoil. I love the richness of the period and the feeling there must have been, as trade lines and borders opened up, that the world was new and waiting to be discovered. In the early stages I felt very much that I was covering ancient history. This was all before 9/11 and it was only after that point, when I was already working on the third draft of the first novel, that events in the book and events in the world began to reflect one another.

Q. How far do you see yourself going with this particular set of characters and time period, or will the series end withThe Fall of the Templars (due out in 2009)?

The Brethren trilogy ends with The Fall of the Templars, which covers events leading up to the Templars’ demise and the wars between England, Scotland, and France. That book is already finished and I’m about to begin a new trilogy on Robert the Bruce and the Scottish wars of independence, also set in this period. It’s a story of mystery, murder, family feuds, and turbulent romance, and one or two characters from the Brethren trilogy may well make an appearance!

Q. You used to teach creative writing. What was your single most important piece of advice for beginning writers? What have you learned since becoming an acclaimed novelist that you would stress to those writers who are attempting to get their first works published?

So many authors I know have had such different experiences when it comes to both the writing itself and to becoming published that it’s almost impossible to say exactly what enables an aspiring writer to do either. Some things all these published writers have in common, however, are perseverance, a willingness to polish and craft their work, and, perhaps most importantly, a deep desire to tell the story, to get it down on paper, to share it with the world. I think too many people assume it’s an easy thing to write and publish a novel. It isn’t. Finding an agent, then a publisher is a game of chance and a test of determination. There’s also a certain amount of luck involved and you can’t teach that. I would say first and foremost, write for yourself, not for the market (although being aware of it and its trends can be advantageous), be a reader, read everything, not just the genre you write in, and lastly, don’t be put off by rejections, they are the mark of a real writer, but at the same time, know when to leave one project and move on to the next. Above all, enjoy it!

  • Crusade is filled with an extremely large cast of characters, many of whom we get to know intimately through the course of the novel. Which of these characters did you find the most compelling and complex? Would you have liked to see more of any one particular character?

  • When we are introduced to Will in the first part of the book, he’s under scrutiny from many of his fellow Brethren because of his volatile past. By the end of the book, he’s come to earn the respect of those whom he’d previously alienated. What were the most significant events that brought about this change? Which events changed Will most dramatically, and for the better?

  • Will’s relationship with Elwen is just as complex and changes significantly throughout the book. Is Elwen too forgiving of Will’s behavior? Did you see her as a strong character? Why? Discuss whether her betrayal with Garin and her deception regarding Rose’s paternity makes her a more realistic, but less likeable, character.

  • Will’s relationship with Garin is fraught with contradiction. He despises Garin for his behavior and past betrayal, and yet at certain times in the novel, he comes to Garin’s defense. What family dynamic does their relationship most closely resemble? At the end of the book, were you surprised when Will finally slew Garin, or had you expected him to let Garin live with his physical and emotional pain? Which is the worse fate—being stabbed in the back (literally), or having to live with physical and emotional torment?

  • Was Garin a sympathetic character? When he explains his past actions with Rook and King Edward, he is trying to make both Elwen and Will understand him, and to some extent pity him. At what points in the novel did you feel pity for his character? Which of his actions did you find most despicable and/or inexcusable? Did he meet a fitting end?

  • Aisha, Kalawun’s young daughter and Baraka Khan’s young wife, is a likeable character. In the short space of time that we know her, she reveals herself to be an intelligent, confident young woman who knows very much who she is and what she wants. Did her death in the early chapters of the novel come as a shock, and were you disappointed to see her die? Were there any other characters who met similar fates that shocked you?

  • Like Garin, Baraka Khan is a complex character who does despicable things but is also tortured by low self-esteem and a constant need for approval and a sense of belonging. At what points in the novel did you find him sympathetic? To what degree were his character flaws a direct result of Sultan Baybar’s (admittedly) poor parenting? Where else in the novel are father/son relationships (or friendships resembling father/son relationships), and their implications, explored?

  • Compare and contrast the relationships between Sultan Baybars and Kalawun and Kalawun and Nasir. While Kalawun’s involvement with the Anima Templi could have led to his execution, if he was discovered, do you think that he would have been forgiven by Baybars anyway? Did Baybars value Kalawun in the same way Kalawun valued Nasir?

  • Because of the subject matter, there are many violent scenes in the novel. How did they contribute to your understanding of the world back then? What did they reveal to you, or illustrate for you, that you weren’t aware of before? In particular, discuss the details of the final battle (the conquering of Acre by the Mamluks), and its most significant and/or revealing moments.

  • What parallels did you find between the 13th-century world political climate and that of the 21st century? Discuss the significance of the problems that occur in both centuries—and what these problems say about human nature and our ability to change and learn from past mistakes.

  • Customer Reviews

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    Crusade 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
    magpieMC More than 1 year ago
    Couldn' put it down, another great escape!
    harstan More than 1 year ago
    By 1274, the years of war that has devastated much of the Middle East especially the Holy Land appears over. A shaky peace has finally come to weary people mostly because of the Herculean efforts of the Brethren. However, one of the Brethren Will Campbell fears their cause has been betrayed from within and that hostilities will break out unless the traitor Prince Edward is stopped from meeting his pledge to the Pope that the Cross will soon control Jerusalem. However, Will remains unaware that European war profiteers have found their profits gone since peace has descended on the land so to stir up business they plan a scheme to use Edward as a foolish tool to erupt the Muslin world into a Jihad against the European infidels.-------------- In Egypt, Sultan Baybars¿ heir Baraka has turned a deaf ear towards his fathe who left him with his mother until he was old enough to train as a warrior and then left him with a tutor. Now he ignores his offspring even more since his closest friend died saving his life. Instead Baraka heeds the guidance of soothsayer Khadir who tells him his dad is going to leave him a destroyed kingdom unless he acts. Baybars believes he must fight the powerful Mongol horde while Khadir insists that is not only suicide, but it is the Christians who are the real enemy. A new wave of crusades seems imminent with Will and some of his Brethren peers the only hope to prevent another region wide conflation that could easily spread across the Mediterranean.-------------- The middle book of this superior historical fiction trilogy (see BRETHREN) is a terrific entry as the late thirteenth century Middle East seems on the verge of another Crusade unless Will and his peers can pull off several miracles. The fast-paced story line effortlessly moves back and forth between the subplots and the key cast members are fully developed so that the audience obtains a taste of the medieval age especially in Jerusalem and Cairo in AD 1276.-------------- Harriet Klausner
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I quite stumbled upon this author, Robyn Young, and I am very grateful I did. I actually bought the third in her 'Templar' series first, but just a few pages into that one made me realize I wanted to get the set for my personal library. I set aside my original purchase 'The Fall of the Templars', sought out and purchased the first two - 'Brethren' and 'Crusade' so that I could start at the beginning. I would read anything Robyn Young writes! She makes you feel like you are actually experiencing the history you are reading about.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Cool! C u sn!
    LN_Adcox More than 1 year ago
    This book offers fast paced action, romance and historical detail of the final years of the Latin Kingdom in the Middle East within a cauldron of political intrigue. The plot revolves about political intrigue at several levels between those that want to engulf the Middle East in warfare to revive or destroy the Latin Kingdoms and those that want to maintain peace to include the “Brethren” or Anima Templi, a secret society within the Templers. It also involves politics and intrigue in the Kingdom of Jerusalem over ascension, and at the court of the Mamluks between those that want to fight the Mongols and those that want to obliterate what is left of the Latin Kingdoms. On other levels the intrigue is associated with the competition for influence between the Venetians and Genoese and the Templers and the Knights of St. John, the attempts of King Edward I of England to solicit funds from the Brethren for a war against Scotland, the often inherent conflict between the intent of the Templar leadership and the Brethren, and the personal completion between Will Campbell and Garin De Lyons, the former Templar and toady of King Edward I. Robyn Young’s characters are believably human because they are all flawed. Will was not only divided in his loyalties between the Templar leadership and the Anima Templi but violated his monastic vows to with Elwen, his lover and wife. Elwen, her loyalty weakened by loneliness and bitterness, surrenders to Garin. The latter surrenders to self loathing, bitterness, wine and drugs losing any vestige of integrity. The plot and subplots play out in the historically accurate events leading up to the fall of Tripoli and Acre. The reader experiences frustration at the failure of the West to offer effective assistance, the pettiness and self-interest of those in positions of power and leadership in the West and in the Latin Kingdoms, and is emotionally drawn in to the desperation of those seeking to escape Acre on too few ships as the doomed Frankish defenders attempt to delay the inevitable massacre.
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    MissMaam More than 1 year ago
    Crusade, the sequel to Robyn Young's Brethren is one of the best books I have read recently. It is a rich saga full of exciting action and surprising twists. The characters affect you in a way that makes you feel you have actually taken their journery with them. The characters are deeply affecting - flawed human beings that struggle through their weaknesses and mistakes. Some descend to the point beyond redemption but the others manage to rise above themselves and make a difference, but always, there is a price to pay. Robyn's Young words are powerful, her adjectives so descriptive that the images conveyed are very vivid. This (along with Brethren) is a must read for anyone interested in the Crusades and the Templars.
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