Age Range: 11/12 and up
Baldwin IV always knew that he would rule over his people as the King of Jerusalem one day, but he never thought it would happen when he was 13. As the sole Sovereign for this Catholic Kingdom, Baldwin has to rule his people, make decisions that could affect his entire nation, battle with the Crusaders against the evil Turks and their leader (Saladin), and fight the disease that is slowly destroying his whole body. Baldwin, struggling with daily challenges, learns that most of his royal court is against him and are all vying for his spot on the throne and are more than willing to give him over to the Turks. With only a few close friends and the loyal Knights Templar, the young leper King has no one else to turn to except for God, who will never abandon his children no matter what.
Crusader King was an amazingly fantastic book that would appeal to all ages, both girls and boys! This novel is a true story about a young leopard King, Baldwin the 4th. He ascended the throne when he was only 13 in 1174 and died soon after that at the age of 24. Even though his life was short, he did more good and extraordinary things than most people can even dream of doing in their lifetime. Though he was King, he lived a simple, holy, and kind life, always trying to do God's will. His life is so inspiring, the way he goes to battle even when struggling with leprosy and then thanking God for every victory. Even though I've been going to Catholic School my entire life, I never learned a lot about the Crusaders or what they did or even what period they were in. By reading Crusader King, I learned a lot about Catholic history and some of the battles we fought. Amazingly, there were entire armies just for Catholics defending the people's Catholic lands and faith.
Crusader King had many great characters but also a lot of evil ones. My favorite character was Baldwin for the obvious reasons I said above, but my second favorite character was his best friend, Theodore. Theodore became a monk in the Knights Templar and was just as faithful and holy as Baldwin. Theo struggled to watch his best friend dying before him over a long period, knowing there was nothing he could do for him. Reading Crusader King made me think a lot about the day we all will die and how we will all be judged on the sins we have committed. Even when Baldwin was dying, he was worried that he might have done too many sins to get to heaven. We never know the day or the hour that we might die, so we must always be prepared by doing God's will and praying daily. Reading this book makes me want to become a better person, which I believe makes this book unique!
I did not realize how much I was going to like this book until I started reading it. I thought it would be interesting but not very compelling and would appeal to boys who like action-packed books. Now that I read it, I would recommend Crusader King to anyone who likes a good story. It was entertaining and fast-paced and an incredible Catholic book about the Crusaders. I will be reading more books by Susan Peek and can't wait until I can get started!
Things to Mention: There are many battles, and people die, but there are few gory details. Baldwin has leprosy, and because of that, his body and face become warped and deformed. There is some other minor violence.
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