Balian d'Ibelin: Knight of Jerusalem (Jerusalem Trilogy).
By: Helena P. Schrader
Publication Date: June 30, 2020
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: August 3, 2020
There are things you need to know up front in regards to this book, especially if you are a huge fan of this author, like I am. This is actually Book 1 of a “biographical” trilogy spotlighting the interesting life of Balian d’Ibelin. Now, if readers remember this amazing man from Helena’s previous work, it’s because in 2014, the first edition of Knight of Jerusalem was released after two years of research. But, as the author states, after learning even more about the Ibelins, as well as the Crusader states, it turned out that Balian needed a longer look when it came to his life, work, the battles he fought, and the man he truly was throughout his life.
Upon diving into this new series, you will once again be transported back to Jerusalem and learn more about the always fascinating land of “milk and honey.” Not only will this in-depth look perhaps alter your views of Jerusalem, but the author also gives us much more to think about when it comes to the look, feel, and beliefs that were held dear in the twelfth century.
Born the same year his father died, Balian’s beginnings included a mother who remarried. As the third son, his inheritance was zero; however, Balian was later granted the right to marry a dowager queen who brought quite a bit of financial security to the union. When it comes to documentation, Balian is best known for what falls between the years of 1177 and 1192. But, as this author always does, the fictional pieces of this story are brought to life with a true richness and color that shows in detail the path Balian took to eventually become a crusader noble of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. As the Lord of Ibelin during those pivotal years, he became the leader of the defense of the city during the siege of Jerusalem in 1187, and readers will be amazed to watch Balian’s life in this book as it all starts to play out.
We see this world at a time when the Holy Land was predominantly Christian. We also see a world where different faiths lived together in harmony; not pain. We are introduced to Maria Comnena, Queen of Jerusalem and the wife of King Amalric, and learn about her beginnings, her feelings about her marriage to Amalric I, and the cravings she had for more. This much-maligned woman, who was later called “scheming” by English chroniclers, is shown in other ways as Balian is inserted into her world, and every emotion is felt by the reader. From passion to anger, you can almost feel the building of a war that will explode further down the line as the relationship of Balian and Maria commence.
Although Balian has been a character in the Hollywood realm, portrayed as a blacksmith, it is the Arab writings that focus on Balian as being far more “like a king.” When it came to the roles of warrior, diplomat, and even servant, Balian had the skills and talents for each; he even had the backbone and strength to defy the famous Richard the Lionheart.
As a fan, it is no surprise that I loved this book. As a person who is intrigued by history, Helena has chosen to do this "historical biography” on someone who has now found a place on my list of the most memorable souls who ever swung a sword. I cannot wait to read the next phase of Balian’s life story as it unfolds.
Quill says: This goes beyond the “historical” label and straight into the realm of fascinating!
For more information on Balian d'Ibelin: Knight of Jerusalem (Jerusalem Trilogy), please visit the author's website at: helenapschrader.com
By: Simon Plaster
Publisher: Mossik Press
Publication Date: July 2020
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: August 2, 2020
Okay...I’ve said it before, I will say it again. If you have not become a fan of this author by now, you have either been locked in a closet for a really long time with no access to books, or you simply haven’t been listening to me. If it’s the first reason, I’m highly sorry for your plight and I hope you find freedom soon. If it’s the latter, then you simply make bad choices.
Yet again, Simon Plaster has penned a book that is a recipe of fantastic plot, great characters, wit, charm, and (my favorite) sarcasm. It’s also a memorable read and will have you heading back to read the rest of his great books that came before. In Greezers, we are introduced to a number of things. One happens to be a chain of auto lube shops that have been failing. Of course, their recent marketing scheme (team up with a chain of fast food fried chicken franchises and introduce a concept called “Lardo” to the public) hasn’t exactly been the best idea.
The auto lube shops are part of the empire owned by the DeGrasso family; so is the Trinita Coal & Oil Co. Now, the matriarch of this family is Nanette DeGrasso. She’s a feisty woman, to say the least, and definitely likes to rule with an iron-fist. She’s also 95, yet she seems to be able to still put people in their place when she wants to. Nanette, in her role as the all-wielding superpower of the family, is also overlord of the Oklahoma City based auto shop chain. When Nanette approved the idea for the “Lardo” sales campaign, joining up with a Ukrainian partner in order to make it happen, most of the watercooler gossip was about the fact that the matriarch may have lost her mind. People started wondering who on earth would be her successor when she finally bade farewell to Earth and headed straight into the underworld. Well, let us just say that this family has a gene pool that makes a family of dodo’s seem highly intelligent.
But someone needs to take over...eventually. Introducing Charles DeGrasso. Nanette’s son, he is the heir-apparent, so to speak, and is currently the Executive VP of the company. He’s waited for fifty years for his mother to head into the afterlife and he definitely wants to take command. His wife, Candice, by the way, is also more than sick of waiting for him to take his rightful position.
Joe DeGrasso is Nanette’s nephew. He is more than willing to pole-vault Charles and nab the reins of the company for himself. He wants the job, but he also has an ulterior motive. If he gets to be in charge, he can set up the next in line to take over which would be his own outcast son, Hunter.
Is that all, you ask? Nope. Leroy O’Rourke is a young lawyer who has his own scheme. He feels that getting “in” with Trinita and throwing himself into the race to be chosen as the next successor will lead him to one day sit where he actually wants to: the Oval Office in the White House.
Reader’s favorite, Henrietta – once a small town newspaper reporter – is, yet again, a part of this wonderful tale. She is still the same dauntless woman who is now heading toward the career of private detective. Answering a want ad she’d taken from the morning newspaper that read “Female Assistant to Private Investigator”, she walks into an odd looking building that, instead of housing the ACE Private Investigation Agency, houses Leroy O’Rourke, Esq.
Will she be hired? Will the matriarch die? Who in the family will take over? How many knives will be shoved into how many backs? Et tu, Brute? Oh, no. I will tell you none of the above. A read that pays homage in its own way to the Bard, himself, Simon Plaster has once again created a book that will have you remembering why you liked books so much in the first place...before all this technology stuff and constant pandemic news got in the way.
Quill says: This truly unique author has once again come up with even more truly unique characters you’ll love.
For more information on GREEZERS: A Tale of Establishment's Decline and Fall, please visit the author's Goodreads page at: Goodreads.SimonPlaster.com