It may seem early, but I'm determined to get Book II of Balian's biography to the publisher in good time to ensure the highest quality product. That means getting an early start on covers. Here are three sketches submitted by my cover designer for Defender of Jerusalem: A Biographical Novel of Balian d'Ibelin. Please take a moment to vote for the one you like best, but first a little more information about Book II.
Defender of Jerusalem covers the critical nine years 1178 to 1187. This was a period in which Saladin led no less than three full scale invasions of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, as well as laying siege to the castle of Kerak twice and city of Nablus once. It was the period in which Sibylla married the highly unpopular Guy de Lusignan and in which Balian's step-daughter was forcefully taken away from her mother at the age of eight and married by her brother and guardian to a man chosen by her mother's worst enemy. It was the period in which Baldwin IV died, and in which Guy de Lusignan seized the throne in a coup d'etat. It is the period in which Guy led the Christian army to an avoidable and devastating defeat on the field of Hattin. It was after this that Balian saved the lives and freedom of tens of thousands of Christians by his effective defense and negotiations at Jerusalem.
The cover should therefore reflect the fact that this book describes the desperate last years of the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the struggle to protect it against a determined foreign force set on jihad. It should also reflect the fact that this is a biography and so the story of one man's struggle to defend everything that is dear to him: his family, his home and his faith.
The tentative cover text for the book is:
The Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem is under siege. The charismatic,Kurdish leader Salah ad-Din has not only succeeded in uniting Shiite Egypt with Sunni Syria, he has declared jihad against the Christian kingdom. While King Baldwin IV struggles to defend his kingdom from the external threat despite the increasing ravages of leprosy, the struggle for the succession threatens to tear the kingdom apart from the inside. In the high-stakes game, one man stands out for his loyalty to the dying king, the kingdom and Christianity itself. That man is Balian d’Ibelin.
The keynote is:
A divided kingdom, a united enemy, and the struggle for Jerusalem.
Please vote for the cover of your choice using the poll to the right. (Sorry I couldn't manage to get them the same size. They were delivered in different formats from the artist!)