Friday, May 4, 2012

The Black Rood

The Black Rood is the second part of the Celtic Crusades trilogy by author Stephen Lawhead. While the first part of the tale, The Iron Lance, followed the young Scottish nobleman Murdo Ranulfson on his brave trek to the Middle East to find his father and recover the holy lance, this tale centers on the exploits of Murdo's second oldest son Duncan. As a teenager living on his father's estate, he hears a tale from his dying uncle about the recent discovery of the holy cross on which Jesus died. It seems that the black rood is seen more as a trophy for the mercenaries and infidels of the region than the most holy relic that it truly is. This sparks something within Duncan, and he believes that he has been called on his own crusade to the Holy Land to retrieve the cross and bring it back to Scotland.

Against the wishes of his father, Duncan sets out on a long and arduous journey into foreign and hostile lands. This young, innocent boy encounters a harsh world where alliances bend and twist under the slightest breeze. The Franks, the Turks, the Arabs, and the Egyptians all are scrambling for glory, riches, fame, control, and empire. Duncan and his trusted friend and mentor, the monk Padraig, follow the leading of their hearts as they claw and scratch their way from one tight spot to another. At each juncture trying to stay true to their faith and the ultimate goal of their quest.

This story is wonderfully vivid, moving, and fully alive with expertly crafted characters and places. Some people's intentions are obvious, but others who seem trustworthy and above board, have hidden agendas that they will stop at nothing to carry out. The twists and turns are unexpected and cleverly laid out by a master craftsman of the genre. Now, onto the final piece of the trilogy, The Mystic Rose.