Those not steeped in the period...may find themselves occasionally at sea with the dozens of characters, clashes, sects, and settings related here. But for those of us who might confuse Godfrey of Bouillon and Baldwin of Boulogne, or Al-Adid with Al-Adil I, relief is always in sight. For a start, Jones includes an overview of his cast of characters that wisely includes years of birth and death and notable characteristics for each. Even better, they are listed in order of appearance in the book. Chapters are well paced, and Jones’ prose is, throughout, felicitous. Helpful maps at the front of the book and scattered throughout make it easy to understand the geography ... History crackles in Jones’ assured hands. He finds bawdy humor to leaven some of the grim violence. As much as anything, he even-handedly shows how endless propaganda, greed, and naked political ambition drove the battles and alliances of the Holy Land wars as much as religious fervor did.
The author’s choice to make the people doing the action rather than the act as the focus is insightful ... An entertaining and informative look at a potent historical phenomenon whose echoes are still being felt today.
... fascinating ... And lest you hesitate because events that took place a thousand years ago appear irrelevant, rest assured: This is no dry, boring tome. Entering the world of Crusaders is a bit like plunging into the political machinations of the fight for the Iron Throne of Westeros, only in this case all the players and events are real ... even neophytes will feel well armed to appreciate the journey ... Jones’ focus on human characters and his strength as a storyteller are what make Crusaders a success. Vivid descriptions and the use of primary source quotes help readers span the centuries ... In a thought-provoking epilogue, Jones brings his narrative into the present day.