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The Land Beyond the Sea by Sharon Penman

Sharon Penman is the bestselling author of Lionheart, and her latest book, The Land Beyond the Sea, is another compelling historical novel set in the medieval period.

In 1172, the Kingdom of Jerusalem, also known as Outremer, is the land beyond the sea. The original Crusaders have ruled there since 1099 after wrestling the kingdom from the Saracens. They have adapted to living in a place of blazing heat, exotic customs, and always being on guard against attacks from their enemies.

Baldwin IV becomes king when only a teenager and his role is made even more difficult when he is diagnosed with leprosy. But despite being a leper king, Baldwin proves to be courageous and intelligent and utterly dedicated to protecting his people. But despite his excellent stewardship, there are rival factions at court, men and women without honour, driven by power and greed. There are few people that Baldwin can trust, one being Lord Balian d'Ibelin, a leader who also wants to maintain peace. But a war is coming, with Saladin, the Saracen army leader, determined to take the kingdom and seek retribution for the slaughter of his troops in 1099.

The Land Beyond the Sea is an epic, thrilling novel that vividly brings this time and people to life. It has a large cast of characters, with Baldwin and Balian being two pivotal people in history and this novel. Don't be put off by this book's size – the story hooks you in from the opening page and doesn't let go until the end. There are also extensive author notes, so for history buffs there is lots of added information.

Reviewer: Karen McMillan

Macmillan publishers