The Pawns of Sion by Scott Rezer
I read it as a: galley
Length: 445 pp
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
The Pawns of Sion is the sequel to Rezer’s first novel in this trilogy, The Leper King. This novel takes place following the death of Baldwin IV “the Leper,” King of Jerusalem. After Baldwin’s death, his young nephew, Baldwin V, the child of his sister Sibylla, reigned as king for a brief time as co-king with his uncle, and then on his own for just over a year until his own death. Sibylla and her half-sister, Isabella, are pawns in the games their men play to see who will be crowned next, for they are each next in line with legitimate claims to the throne. Throughout the political machinations of the Angevins and Lusignans, a young squire to Balian d’Ibelin learns that he is actually the illegitimate son of another lord, one of the main players in the political scheming taking place in Jerusalem. He also discovers that the woman tending to his dying mother is Mary Magdalene in disguise and that she is trying to find the Cup of Christ in order to prevent the Order of Sion, a shadowy demonic order, from destroying her and the Holy Land.
I had mixed feelings about this book. The writing is exciting, the characters are multidimensional and lifelike, the historical detail is accurate, and there is a lot of exciting action and adventure to keep anyone engaged. There is a great deal to like. However, I had missed the first book of the series, so I was totally lost about the Order of Sion, which drew away from some of my enjoyment of it, through no real fault of the author. I do feel a little reminder or recap would serve well, though, just a short prologue or something, since otherwise I think this could be a good standalone novel. Also, the magic – yes, it is integral to the story, but it wasn’t really necessary, was it? It would have been a great story without magic and Mary Mag walking around, wouldn’t it? But it was still a fun read and I can cheerfully recommend it to readers who enjoy a bit of fantasy mixed with their history.