THE IRON LANCE by Stephen R. Lawhead

THE IRON LANCE

Vol. I of The Celtic Crusades

KIRKUS REVIEW

Historical fantasy and first of a “generational epic,” so the publisher informs us, from Lawhead (Byzantium,1996, etc.), etc. Things get off to a poor start as Lawhead employs a trite, clumsy framing device. In 1899 Scotland, lawyer and member of a mystical secret society Gordon Murray is proposed for initiation to a higher degree. He accepts the test, and so—confused, drugged, and lowered into a lightless cavern—he stumbles upon the weapon of the title. Touching its cold pitted iron grants Murray visions of the distant past. There, in the late 11th century, young Murdo, son of Lord Ranulf of Dyrness, Orkney, must stay at home and mind the store while his father and brothers march off to join what will become the first Crusade. But soon the king of Norway’s lackey Orin Broadfoot (with the collusion of the Church) dispossesses Murdo of his estate, then hastily disappears to join the Crusade himself, before Murdo can remonstrate with him. Murdo vows to follow Orin and force him to make amends, and pledges to return to his beloved Ragna. Meanwhile, another narrative strand details the doings of the Byzantine Emperor, Alexius I, who, having requested warriors from northern Europe to fight the Turks, receives instead a peasant rabble headed by Peter the Hermit. These sections merely reiterate the progress of the Crusade, treading the same ground as Susan Shwartz’s Crescent and Cross (1997). Eventually, we learn of Murdo’s exertions, the fate of lawyer Murray, and the identity of the weapon that inspired the whole business. Familiar fare for Lawhead fans, watery gruel for outsiders or newcomers.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-06-105032-6
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1998




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