When Adam's mother dies unconfessed, he pledges to save her soul with dust from the Holy Land. Employed as a dog-boy to a baron, Adam grabs at the chance to join the Crusade to conquer Jerusalem.
Soon, determination to strike down the wicked enemy burns within him...
Salim is leading a peaceful and uneventful life in the port of Acre – until news arrives that a Crusader attack is imminent. To keep Salim safe, his father buys him an apprenticeship with an esteemed travelling doctor. But Salim’s employment leads him to the heart of the mighty Sultan Saladin’s camp – and into battle against the barbaric invaders…
I stood once on the shores of Lebanon on a wild January day watching giant waves beating against the ancient stones of a city wall. They had been built by rough-hewn Crusaders who had come in their ships across the Mediterranean from Europe, bent on war and conquest. Behind me, in the church which they had also built, Lebanese Christians were holding their Sunday service, their music eerily mingling with the crash of the sea.
Later, up in the mountains, I stood in the courtyard of a palace which had once belonged to an emir. Graceful stone arcades, columns, galleries, domes and towers spoke of a time of peace, a world of elegance and culture.
This was thirty years ago, and war was raging in Lebanon. We often heard the crump of exploding mortars and the rattle of machine guns from our flat in the city of Beirut. Lebanon’s diverse peoples and religions, which history had sewn into a complex patchwork, was coming apart at the seams. Meddlesome nations all around Lebanon were picking at the stitches.
Later, when I read about the Crusades, I realised how profoundly those events of so long ago had shaped the Middle East, and how they affect it still. The story of Adam and Salim, whose worlds of Christianity and Islam, of West and East, collided so catastrophically then, are colliding again now.
Crusade is, in fact, a story of our time.
Shortlisted for the Costa Award, the Carnegie Medal, the Royal Mail Scottish Children's Book Award, the Highland Children's Book Award, the KS4 Salford Young Adult Book Award, the Essex Book Award, and the Beyond Words Book Award.