Recommended for fans of King Baldwin IV looking for an easy read and a story revolving around him as the central figure Not recommended for people who are annoyed by creative liberties, historical inaccuracies or those looking for a good book on war strategies.
One problem I find with historical novels is it's often hard to juggle between character development and authenticity. Both aren't mutually exclusive, but it seems to me that too much of one often results in a compromise of the other. In the beginning of the story, the characters feel extremely stilted, as if they were cardboard characters being pulled from point A to point D and the author was doing her best to make sure they stopped at points B and C on the way. Some time along the story, however, the tension eases up and that's when the characters start getting a life of their own.
I love how Serafia Cross portrays Baldwin's progression from the young and curious prince to the King of Jerusalem. He's not the bravest person out there. He's smart and learns quickly, but he also realises that his knowledge is inadequate and he has many misgivings about himself. His many breakdowns, his apparently contradicting hopes and dreams, the moments when his actions are just plain silly and you want to give him a good shake... All of these only serve to make him more real. He's not born a legendary hero. He's a legendary hero because of the decisions he makes and that just makes him all the greater.
Problems that some may encounter with this book: 1. Some people may be annoyed about the use of the term "Crusade" as it wasn't coined until much later. Personally, I am glad Serafia Cross did not opt to call it "Pilgrimage" because that's just confusing. 2. This book is written in third person PoV, and often the PoV character switches between paragraphs in the same chapter without anything to indicate a switch (I'm reading the ebook). 3. Creative liberties including, but not limited to, addition of characters and events that simply did not or could not have existed. (but hey, we call it historical FICTION for a reason)
Overall, I'm pleased with this book. There really isn't much out there regarding King Baldwin IV and I'm grateful for Serafia's series. I've read Mary Renault's series on Alexander the Great and I think that Serafia's works compares rather favourably.
Not very often does a book so uniquely written hit the market but "The Last King of Legends: The Kingmakers" quietly imposes itself upon readers everywhere. This is one of those books that rapidly takes you inside its covers and actively involves you in its settings, emotions and attachments. It's hard to pull away from its pages until you've finished the book. Then you'll want more.
The story of a young Latin king of Jerusalem during the 12th century growing up to face not only Saladin's military threat without, but also to face an enemy within: Leprosy.
Baldwin IV is the model king--the king history almost forgot until Serafia Cross discovered him 900 years later. On these pages, she's crafted a story of challenge and facing all odds with immense courage. The challenges facing young and old today are not the same as during the 12th century, but the courage to face them hasn't changed. Courage keeps us moving and growing in spite of all the odds.
The individuals surrounding the young king helped shape him into the great man he became. Even Saladin, his enemy, greatly respected Baldwin on the battlefield sensing true leadership qualities as he experienced the solidarity of the Christian forces behind their king. As Serafia herself says: (The Kingmakers)...could not teach him to live long, so they taught him how to reign great and crafted a king myths are made of--a king history almost forgot."
This book is a must-read for those who desire principled leadership qualities exhibited in a real person facing real conflicts. It's a story for those leaders waiting off-stage to come forward and take their places.
"The Last King of Legends: The Kingmakers" by Serafia Cross Some people are born to rule. Especially in medieval times, when birthrights were more important than ability. Kings and Queens found themselves facing the task of governing, whether they wanted to or not, because of the blood that flowed in their veins. This is the case of young Baldwin IV. Ms. Cross artfully introduces us to one of the youngest Kings to preside in the Holy Land during the times of the Crusades. Her method is more than a chronological order of historical events. "The Last King of Legends: The Kingmakers" is a story of friends and foes, rights and wrongs. It is a time when the King is expected to fight in combat alongside the knights and soldiers. We meet the child in training, a preparation in swordsmanship as well as intellect. We meet the teachers and the trusted ones with a mission to shape the child into a king when he grows up. He grew up fast when his father, the king, passed on leaving him a young lad, with the crown. His mythical portrayals in other stores and movies are somewhat challenged in this historical portrayal of King Baldwin IV. In this, the first of a series, we go from a child dealing with his terminal illness to a young man wearing the crown of authority. Read this one to be ready for the next!
The struggle to hold on to a kingdom when getting reinforcements for that kingdom are extremely difficult due to its location. Jerusalem's supply lines which stretched back to Europe were being ambushed, the heir to its throne, Prince Baldwin, was a minor and though his father was keeping it quiet he was already a leper. How he is trained and becomes king while dealing with his disease is covered in this book. I'm waiting for the author to bring out the next book in the series of which there'll be four in all.