FOR THE KING by Catherine Delors
Catherine Delors blazed onto the historical fiction scene with her riveting Mistress of the Revolution, about a young woman swept up into the vagaries and savagery of the French Revolution, and her struggle to survive. In FOR THE KING, Ms Delors turns her keen eye for characterization and impeccable sense of period detail to the tumultuous world of Napoleonic Paris, offering us a fascinating account of a conflicted man determined to uncover the truth behind a spectacular crime. With consummate skill, she guides us into a world that is glamorous, barbaric and deceitful, where privilege often trumps guilt and betrayal can exact an unimaginable price. This was one of my favorite endorsement reads of 2010; masterfully written, FOR THE KING offers a vivid portrait of a city caught between its violent past and treacherous present, combining the pulse-pounding suspense of a thriller with the glamour of superbly researched historical fiction.
SHADOW OF THE SWORDS by Kamran Pasha
Forget everything you thought you know about the Crusades. In this gorgeously wrought tale, following his sublime Mother of the Believers, Kamran Pasha depicts the epic struggle for Jerusalem between Christians and Muslims with startling modern relevance. His unexpected portrayal of charismatic Saladin, whose gift for leadership harbors a secret weakness for a woman forbidden to him; tortured Richard the Lionheart, whose blind ambition to conquer the East turns him into a ruthless, fallible foe; and Miriam, the proud healer haunted by the past, is timely and deeply moving. Mr Kamran's vision is rooted in both sensual detail and a sage appreciation for irony; passionate, gilded with the scents of a vanished time, and steeped in the blood and thunder of two antagonistic faiths, SHADOW OF THE SWORDS is a triumph from start to finish.