Sharon Kay Penman is the author of seven previous historical novels and four medieval mysteries set during the reign of Eleanor of Aquitaine. She lives in Mays Landing, New Jersey, and her next book will be A King's Ransom, completing the story of Richard I.
Richard I was crowned King in 1189 and set off almost immediately for the Third Crusade. This was a bloody campaign to regain the Holy Land, marked by internecine warfare among the Christians and extraordinary campaigns against the Saracens. Men and women found themselves facing new sorts of challenges and facing an uncertain future. John, the youngest son, was left behind -- and with Richard gone, he was free to conspire with the French king to steal his brother's throne. Overshadowing the battlefields that stretched to Jerusalem and beyond were the personalities of two great adversaries: Richard and Saladin. They quickly took the measure of each other in both war and diplomacy. The result was mutual admiration: a profound acknowledgement of a worthy opponent.