Tom Harper’s second book entitled Knights of the Cross which chronicles the adventures of Demetrios Askiates in the First Crusade is much better than his first, The Mosaic of Shadows. This book seems to flow more than the first.
Here is an excerpt from Publisher’s Weekly about the book:
…As the First Crusaders are stuck in an interminable siege of Turk-held Antioch, Demetrios Askiates, a Greek assigned as scribe to the Byzantine emperor’s representative, must once again play detective. The discovery of a Norman knight with his throat slit and bearing unusual markings on his corpse threatens the shaky alliance among the varied European armies of the First Crusade. Amid battles and political intrigues, Demetrios desperately pursues the few clues he has, even as the late Norman knight’s companions, who may have joined him in promoting a new heretical sect, also turn up dead. …
Harper does an excellent job in developing the various characters and giving the plot several twists and turns. He also brings the time period alive for the reader – describing the city of Antioch and the battles that waged around it.
With that said, I still Harper could trim some of the text from the book. There are times when the story drags with subplots that are not relevant to the story. For example, I found myself skimming some of the text when Harper delves into the religion of some of the characters.
Overall, Harper’s second book is an improvement over the first and I think anyone interested in the Crusades from a different perspective (a Byzantine one) would do well to read this book.