... there’s an even larger cast of characters than usual for a Penman novel, and the author here is in very strong form ... young Baldwin, by far the novel’s most compellingly-drawn character, is a believably complex and melancholy ... The book is thoroughly absorbing reading, even though apart from the sign-post battle of Hattin in 1187 it doesn’t have many big organizing plot points. Penman’s writing style is so companionable that most readers won’t mind the slight wandering of the narrative, although this author’s penchant for loading every scene with every historical detail within reach takes some getting accustomed to for newcomers ... Readers familiar with Penman’s long shelf of historical novels will eagerly welcome this everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach, and The Land Beyond the Sea shows off that approach to marvelous effect.
True to form, Penman again demonstrates her impeccable attention to historical detail and the depth and breadth of her research in this novel ... The breadth of the landscape and sheer number of characters make it a virtual impossibility for Penman to keep us intensely involved in the action at every turn. However, as much as I found the action lagging after the deaths of Baldwin and his tutor, William of Tyre, only to pick up again during the final 100 pages because of Balian’s courage, the fact is that Penman has created a saga of epic proportions. She has given us insight into the inner workings of the minds of the great men and women of the time. There is a lot here to savor, and this book can’t be rushed through.
Penman is justifiably renowned for her medieval epics...Working on a large canvas, she illustrates the era’s political movements and the personalities of its movers and shakers with equal dexterity ... Among many well-crafted characters, several quickly stand out ...From fierce battle maneuvers to the emotional corridors of an unexpected love story, readers will feel intimately drawn into the characters’ dramatic lives in Penman’s splendid historical novel ... Historical saga fans will pounce on best-selling and always thrilling Penman’s latest, which offers a particularly alluring setting.