What starts as a mild interest in a father’s obsession turns into a quest for the "true cross" by his son.
Alaric, the father of Richard “Richie” Cathar, has recently died, and Richie must come to terms with this loss. The depth of Alaric’s obsession with the Lionheart is evidenced by his having named his son after the medieval king as well as by changing his name from “Carter” to “Cathar.” Richie informs readers that his father was frequently on drugs and that he was ignominiously dismissed from Oxford. Richie is trying not only to figure out his relationship to his father, but also figure out his relationship to Emily, his girlfriend, who’s becoming enamored with someone else. During a trip to Jerusalem to examine some manuscripts about medieval art, Richie meets and begins an affair with Noor, a Canadian journalist with a strikingly beautiful aunt, Haneen Husayni. Like his father, Richie has developed a fascination with the medieval period and begins to tease out some information about the "true cross." Meanwhile, Noor is kidnapped by a terrorist group, since she’s actually a spy rather than a journalist, something unknown to Richie. With elaborate twists and turns, Richie eventually learns that Noor is his half sister, so when she is rescued from her captors, their relationship is now forbidden. Cartwright alternates chapters of Richie’s gradual discoveries about historical secrets involving the "true cross" with historical information about Saladin and Richard the Lionheart—and he even gives us some poetry in the language of Occitan (thankfully providing translations).
Uneven but nonetheless fascinating, especially for history and The Da Vinci Code fans.