Acre’s Bastard: Historical Fiction from the Crusades by Wayne Turmel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“Can one lone boy,” asks author Wayne Turmel, “save the Crusader Kingdom from disaster at the Horns of Hattin?”
I won’t give away the ending of Acre’s Bastard, but I will point out that Crusader kingdoms haven’t been popular in the Middle East for quite a few years. No matter the extent of your knowledge of history, you’ll find this exciting historical novel keeps you guessing all the way through.
In the year 1187, Lucca le Pou – the Louse – is an urchin with the run of the narrow and twisting streets of Acre, the ancient city on the Mediterranean Sea and principal port of the Crusader Knights who rule the land. But the times they are a-changing, and Lucca is right in the middle of it all. His ability to blend in and his knowledge of the back alleys makes Lucca a vital conduit of information for the Monastic Knights and Hospitalers as they anticipate a major confrontation with their powerful enemy, Saladin.
Author Turmel paints a vivid picture of the teeming city with its crowds and caravans, colorful markets and polyglot babble. His characters are also drawn in three dimensions: Brother Marco the leper, fanatical Brother Idoneous, and of course the hapless but sometimes adventurous Lucca himself.
You don’t have to be interested in the time period or tales of the Holy Land to get caught up in this fast-paced story. You may be excused though for inadvertently gaining some vital understanding of the time and the place. And it’s not a kid’s book – Turmel styles it as “Kipling’s Kim for a new generation.” It’s gritty as the sand in your drawers and thick with the stench of camels and army camps — Bloody when it needs to be, but not without humor and surprise. And you may just discover it’s your own spotlight of insight into the past of that troubled land.