The Iron Lance (Celtic Crusades Series #1)

The Iron Lance (Celtic Crusades Series #1)

by Stephen R. Lawhead

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061745249
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/13/2009
Series: Celtic Crusades Series , #1
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 656
Sales rank: 184,004
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Stephen R. Lawhead is an internationally acclaimed author of mythic history and imaginative fiction. His works include Byzantium and the series The Pendragon Cycle, The Celtic Crusades, and The Song of Albion. Lawhead makes his home in Austria with his wife.

Read an Excerpt


Murdo raced down the long slope, his bare feet striking the soft turf so that the only sound to be heard was the hiss and swash of his legs through the coarse green bracken. Far behind him, a rider appeared on the crest of the hill and was quickly joined by two more. Murdo knew they were there; he had anticipated this moment of discovery, and the instant the hunters appeared he dived headlong to the ground to vanish among the quivering fronds where he continued his flight, scrambling forward on knees and elbows, first one way and then another

The riders spurred their mounts and flew down the hillside, the blades of their spears gleaming in the early fight. All three shouted as they came, voicing the ancient battlecry of the dan: "Dubh a dearg!"

Murdo heard the shouts and froze fast, pressing himself to the damp earth. He felt the dew seeping through his siarc and breecs, and smelled the sharp tang of the bracken. The sky showed bright blue through leafy gaps above him and, heart pounding, he watched the empty air for the first glimpse of discovery

The horses raced swiftly nearer, their hooves drumming fast and loud, and flinging the soft turf high over their broad backs. Murdo, flat beneath the bracken, every sense alert and twitching, listened to the swift-running horses and judged their distance. He also heard the liquid gurgle of a hidden bum a short distance ahead, lower down the slope.

Upon reaching the place where the youth had disappeared, the riders halted and began hacking into the dense brake with the butts of their spears. "Out! Out!" they shouted. "We have you! Declare and surrender!"

Murdo, ignoring the calls,lay still as death and tried to calm the rapid beating of his heart so the hunters would not hear him. They were very near. He held his breath and watched the patch of sky for sight or shadow of his pursuers.

The riders wheeled their mounts this way and that, spear shafts slashing at the fronds, their cries growing more irritated with each futile pass. "Come out!" shouted the largest of the riders, a raw-boned, fair-haired young man named Torf. "You cannot escape! Come out, damn you!"

"Give up!" shouted one of the others. Murdo recognized the voice; it belonged to a thick-shouldered bull of a youth named Skuli. "Give up and face your punishment!"

"Surrender, you sneaking little weasel," cried the last of the three. It was the dark-haired one called Paul. "Surrender now and save yourself a hiding!"

Murdo, knew his pursuers and knew them well. Two of them were his brothers, and the third was a cousin he had met for the first time only ten days ago. Even so, he had no intention of giving up; he knew, despite Paul's vague assurance, they would beat him anyway.

Instead, amidst the shouts and the brushy whack of the spears, Murdo calmly put two fingers beneath his belt and withdrew a tightly-wound skein of wool and deftly tied one end of the thread to the long bracken stem beside his head. Then, with the most subtle of movements, he began to crawl again, paying out the thread as he went.

Slowly, slowly, and with the icy cunning of a serpent, he moved, pausing to unwind more string and then slithering forward again, head low under the pungent green fronds, forcing himself to remain calm. To hurry now would mean certain disaster.

"We know you are here!" shouted Torf. "We saw you. Stand and declare, coward! Hear me? You are a very coward, Murdo!"

"Surrender," cried Paul, dangerously near. "We will let you go free."

"Give up, Stick!" added Skuli. "You are caught!"

Murdo, kept silent-and even when Paul's spear swept only a hair's breadth from his head, he did not break and run, but hunkered down and waited for the horse to move on. Reaching to the end of his thread ball, he lay still, trying to determine where and how far away were each of his pursuers. Satisfied that they were all at least ten or more paces away, he took a deep breath, pulled the woollen thread taut ... and then gave a quick, sharp tug

He waited, and jerked the string hard once more.

"'There!" shouted Skuli. The other two whooped in triumph, wheeling their mounts and making for the place.

But Murdo had already released the thread and was slithering down the hill as fast as he could go. He reached the bank of the bum and risked a furtive look back at the riders: all three stood poised in the saddle with spears at the ready, shouting into the bracken for him to surrender.

Smiling, Murdo eased over the edge of the bank and lowered himself into the bum. The water was shallow, and cold on his bare feet, but he gritted his teeth and hastened on. While the riders demanded his surrender, Murdo made his escape along the low stream bed.

It was Niamh who finally caught him; he was sliding quietly around the comer of the barn, hoping to slip into the yard unobserved. "Murdo! There you are," she scolded, "I have been looking for you."

"My lady," Murdo said, snapping himself straight. He turned to see her flying toward him, green skirts bunched in her fists, dark eyes flashing.

"A fine my lady! Look at you!" she said, exasperation making her sharp. "Wet to the bone and muddy with it." She seized him by the arm and pulled him roughly toward her. A head or more taller than the slender woman, he nevertheless delivered himself to her reproof. "You have been at that cursed game again!"

"I am sorry, mam," he replied, his man-voice breaking through the boyish apology. "It's the last time, and-"

"Hare and hunter-at your age, Murdo!" she snapped, then looked at him and softened. "Ah, my heart," she sighed and released his arm. "You should never let them treat you like that. It is neither meet nor fitting for any lord's son."

"But they could not catch me," Murdo protested. "They never do."

"The abbot is here," Niamh said, tugging his damp, dirty siarc and brushing at it with her hands.

"I know. I saw the horses."

"He will think you one of the servingmen, and who is to blame but yourself?"

"What of that?" Murdo replied sourly. "It's never me that's going."

"How should you be going? For all it is only ten and four you are.

"Ten and five-in five months," Murdo protested. "Besides, I am taller than Paul, and stronger." But his mother was already moving away. He stepped quickly beside her. "Why is the abbot here?"

"Can you not guess?"...

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Iron Lance (Celtic Crusades Series #1) 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Iron Lance truly shows how a good author can mix love and peace with death and war. Young Murdo had to stay behind while his brothers and dad left to capture the Holy Land. He sets off after his father and brothers to help them in the homeland of Orkneyjar and he becomes a pilgrim in the Celtic Crusade. He stays at his parents friends house before he goes and falls in love. This is truly worthy to be a classic.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a book worthy to be a classic. I have read my share of Lawhead books and this is his best. It is the story of a young man murdo(mer-tho) who is left at home with his mother after his father and brothers go on the crusades. While they are being sent off with a feast ot the church thier land is stolen by a nobleman from norway. I this turn Murdo and his mother leave to stay with a dear friend of the mothers. while he is there he falls in love. After several weeks Murdo leaves to get his father and brothers to come back and avenge thier lands. As the story progresses you find out more and more about the history of the family and Murdo's fate. There are some extremly gruesome parts of the book, but it is needed to show the brutality of the crusaders and the Arabs.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Lawhead successfully weds large-scale battles, personal dilemmas, and spiritual searching into a sweeping historical epic. I found myself caught up by the premise and reading non-stop to reach the conclusion.
sirfurboy on LibraryThing 2 days ago
The Iron Lance is classic Stephen Lawhead. A mix of well researched history and some bare faced fiction. It would be quite wrong to think the medieval world was just as he describes it, but he describes it so well and with such an attention to detail that people might be mistaken for sometimes doing just that.This book is the first in a trilogy which itself relies on some plot elements set up in the book "Patrick: Son of Ireland". In this story, Murdo Ranulfson's brothers go to fight in the crusade to free the Holy Land, leaving him (the youngest son) to tend the estates with his mother. However political shifts and a scheming bishop leave him dispossessed and the lad finds himself with no option but to travel to the Holy Land to bring back his father.But on the way he meets some monks from a curious celtic order - the Cele De. These monks are on a mission from God to bring back the Iron Lance that was used to pierce the side of the crucified Jesus. The tensions in this book are deliciously drawn, and Lawhead is very good at the writing of action scenes. This leads to a wonderful story with a great conclusion in a convincing historical setting.
aethercowboy on LibraryThing 2 days ago
Part Conspiracy, part History, and part Fantasy, The Iron Lance is the first book in Lawhead's Celtic Crusades series, depicting the Crusades through the eyes of a Celtic family (surprise!).Before reading this novel, my only experience with Lawhead was a heavy-handed Christian science fiction novel. Lawhead is much less heavy-handed with the message, though his work is clearly Christian-inspired.The story is about a young boy whose elder male relatives head off to fight the Holy War. He's left behind with his mother and the servants. Upon returning one day from a holiday feast at a friend of the family's, his mother and he return to find their homestead pillaged.This, and a vision of St. Peter leads him to join the Crusades, as well as to search for the Holy Lance.The story is well written, featuring detailed characters and events. Lawhead has definitely learned a more subtle approach to writing, as I didn't feel particularly bashed over the head by this one.You may enjoy it if you like historical fiction, historical fantasy, or Crusades-related fiction.
Neilsantos on LibraryThing 2 days ago
By the author of Byzantium, which I liked. Similarly to Byzantium, the Byzantines are much more interesting than the Europeans. It's amusing how all the Westerners are considered "Roman" or "Latin" to the Byzantines, while all the Easterners are considered "Greeks" by the Europeans. I'll try the next one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book and the series as a whole. I highly recommend them all.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
All Lawheads books have the same story line, and frankly I'm getting really tired of it. All the books have a good introduction but then after that the same thing happends in everyone, the main character sets out on a quest and meets people who know the most high [or some other name for god] and then the main character will find happynes, and almost fail but then complete thier quest. I have read almost all of Lawheads books and the first ones you read are the most enjoyable because you haven't read the same thing before. The first Lawhead books I have read were the Song of Albion books.