The Black Rood
Stephen R. Lawhead
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“LAWHEAD KNOWS HOW TO SPIN A TALE.”
In a time of legends and heroes, blood and mystery, one man will carry on his family’s destiny as he sets upon a dangerous and glorious quest.
The Great Crusade is long over, or so Duncan, son of Murdo, believes until a long-lost uncle appears from the East bearing tales of immense treasure. Though the Iron Lance had been won for the emperor, an even holier relic has been found: the Black Rood—the prayer-worn, blood-stained remnant of the True Cross—now endangered by the greedy ambitions of ruthless crusader barons bent on carving kingdoms from the desert sands of the Middle East.
When Duncan’s life is shattered by tragedy, he sets sail on his own pilgrimage to Jerusalem, following in the footsteps of his father. But the gates to the Holy Land are guarded by the warrior priests known as the Knights Templar. These fearsome guardians hold the key to more than just Duncan’s fate—the very destiny of the West is in their hands.
“HISTORICAL DETAILS BRING THE SETTING TO ROBUST LIFE.”
may not have possessed the ready wealth of more favored realms, we nevertheless raised enough in grain and cattle to feed ourselves and our vassals, with plenty left over for gainful trade. From what my mother had told me about her youth in Orkneyjar, it seemed to me that growing up in Caithness was much the same. And, like my father, life in the wild, empty hills suited me. Not that we had forsaken Orkney forever. Heaven forbid it! We regularly traded at Kirkjuvágr, and Murdo often took part in
the gap, and an empty trail ahead. That was the last thing I saw. For the next thing I knew, earth and sky had changed places and the ground was rising up before my face. I was thrown clear of the horse and landed hard against the side of the bank, loose rock pelting down on me. Dust filled my lungs and eyes; I could not breathe or see. My head felt as if it had been driven down between my shoulder blades. Every bone and joint in my body ached, and my right arm tingled strangely. My hands were
many days. When the others had gone, I loosened the silken cord and turned back the battered old covering. The script that met my eye was strong and fair. The rich black tone had faded to a pale reddish sepia, but remained clearly legible. I read the first words, and knew why I had been summoned to this task. My heart began to beat with such force I thought I would have to abandon the work before I had even begun. Before me on the table was the account of Murdo’s son, Duncan, and, in his own
excuse to avoid joining the rest of us. However, I think it more likely that he had no stomach for the Templars, never mind the food. Padraig and I eagerly accepted the invitation, and if that meal was in any way typical, I quickly discovered how our captain maintained his rotund form despite his long sea journeys. Of meat and sweet breads, and other fancies, there was no stint: roast fowl and smoked pork, beef, and fish of several kinds, and flat bread made with the oil of olives—which Sicilians
for Yordanus when we heard a horse whinny and there, coming down along the track leading into the town, was the old trader himself on a milk white stallion, riding beside another man on a black. Behind them rode two more men leading two horses each. They reined up at the water’s edge and while the two men watered the horses, Yordanus presented Nurmal, a smiling, graceful white-haired elder with a skin so brown it looked like polished leather. He wore the silken robes of an Arab potentate, and