Welcome to our Anniversary Blog by resident blogger Jake Hope. Jake will be reading and reviewing all of the past CILIP Carnegie Medal winning books during the anniversary year. We are also asking shadowers to "Adopt a Book" and join in reading and discussing the anniversary titles in their shadowing groups.
"The first blow smashed the Christian Knight to his back, and the Infidels leapt upon him, hacking down at his writhing body with a cold-blooded ferocity that appalled Philip. He wanted to look away, but his eyes watched the scene with a fascinated horror. At last the knight lay still, an untidy heap of slashed surcoat and torn hauberk. The The Turks kicked at him derisively, and rode away with shrill yells of triumph, waving their swords at the Christians. Philip gulped painfully, fighting down another pang of sickness. For a moment he wondered bitterly if his nerve would give way now that he was faced with the reality of battle and a merciless enemy."
Set in the Outemer States during the Crusades, the novel follows the development and plight of Philip d’Aubigny, a young and inexperienced Knight, eager to prove his worth in Battle. His opportunity soon arises as Emir Saladin, a Saracen leader, is mobilising the Islamic armies against the Crusaders. Many are eager for the battle and to defend Outremer, as is Philip, but others are concerned the might and extent of the Christian forces is unequal to the opposition they face.
Fighting in the harsh desert environment immediately disadvantages the Crusaders and the campaign is disastrously defeated. Scenes of battle are harrowing and uncompromising and involve great loss for Philip himself. Philip is taken captive by the Turks and is enslaved. Philip plots his escape and freedom and with the aid of Gilbert, he scales the walls determined to reach his ancestral homeland.
Despite a plot that races along and offers high impact descriptions of battle, the story avoids vilifying Islamic Culture, or presenting this as one dimensional.