THE DEVIL'S CROSS by Walter O'Meara


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O'Meara's previous novels (The Trees Went Earth. The Spanish Bride and Minnesota Gothic (with as many publishers, Crown, Putnam and Holt) had the United States for their period and historic settings; this has the Children's Crusade of the thirteenth century as its focus. In 1212 Bugh the Burgundian, a knight with no stomach for the slaughter of innocents practiced by his lord, obtains permission to serve Count Jorg in Germany. There he finds the old Count's nephew Torbert and his scheming wife Haldis are causing trouble; he is entrusted with the mission of bringing backthe Count's daughter Judith who is en route with the Children's Crusade the Holy Land. Lady Haldis' spies try to kill him but Hugh escapes and follows the pitiful trail of children dying of starvation and disease, being sold into slavery and prostitution or forming murderous wild bands that ravage the countryside. Of the 30,000 German children only 1,000 reach Brindisi and there Hugh finds Judith, imprisoned by a merchant who plans to sell her and her companions to the Turks, but, with help, he saves the children and returns Judith to her father. Torbert and Haldis' plot is revealed and, in fleeing, they are slain, while Hugh chooses to continue on to Spain for more adventure. A fast pace for medieval excitements and interesting detail about the Crusade give this its impetus.

Pub Date: Oct. 21st, 1957
Publisher: Knopf