Templar’s Acre by Michael Jecks

Michael Jecks is one of the master storytellers of Medieval mysteries. He has written a series of books (The Templar Series) that follows Simon Puttock, a bailiff, and Sir Baldwin Furnshill, a former Templar knight, as they solve murders all over Devon, England. The series begins when Baldwin arrives back in England after the destruction of the Templars in France and elsewhere. Jecks’ latest book Templar’s Acre is a prequel to the series.

From the publisher’s website:

The Holy Land, 1291. A war has been raging across these lands for decades. The forces of the Crusaders have been pushed back again and again by the Muslims and now just one city remains in Crusader control. That one city stands between the past and the future. One city which must be defended at all costs. That city is Acre.
And into this battle where men will fight to the death to defend their city comes a young boy. Green and scared, he has never seen battle before. But he is on the run from a dark past and he has no choice but to stay. And to stay means to fight. That boy is Baldwin de Furnshill.

This book explains why Baldwin is the way he is in the series. He is a very introspective and somber man, but Jecks does a wonderful job of developing the back story to Baldwin. The story also explains how Baldwin and his assistant Edgar met.

Jecks brings the fall of Acre to life in his story about Baldwin’s travel to the Holy Land and how he helped defend Acre. In the process, he befriends a Templar and other knights and falls in love.

The plot is strong as Baldwin weaves his way through the labyrinth of alliances in the Holy Land trying to find his love and prepare his men for the inevitable attack on the city. Jecks includes plenty of heroes and villains and some that are a little of both.

Although the beginning of the book eludes to Baldwin’s friends’ fates, Jecks keeps the reader interested in the story by plot variations. The variations keep the reader guessing on how Baldwin is influenced by the changing dynamics of Acre and its rulers.

Great story in a pivotal time in history for the Middle East and Europe.

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