Today is the last day to buy Knight of Jerusalem for just $2.99.
Envoy of Jerusalem, the third book in my Balian d'Ibelin biography will be released later this summer. So, I'll be offering the first two books at a discount for a limited time only. Knight of Jerusalem is on sale now for $2.99. Below is an excerpt from the first chapter. Balian's elder brother, Hugh Baron of Ibelin, has had an accident. Balian is with him.
“I need a priest, Balian,” his brother’s voice broke into his thoughts.
“The nearest Latin priest is at Ibelin. I’ve sent Alexis for a litter—”
“There’s an Orthodox church in the next village,” Hugh cut him off. “Send for him!” That his devout brother would think of turning to an Orthodox priest made it even more certain that Hugh thought he was dying, but Balian still refused to believe it—even though he dutifully sent the squire for the Syrian priest. Balian reached for his brother’s hand; it was so cold it chilled him. “What happened, Hugh? Were you attacked?”
“No. Nothing so dramatic. My stallion shied. I fell badly. Iheard my bones crack. In my neck.”
“Can you move your legs?” Balian asked anxiously.
“No. Now you know why I want the priest.”
Balian crossed himself and started praying silently. “We’ll get you back to Ibelin—” he started to assure his brother, but his brother cut him off.
“No. Just—fetch me—a priest.”
“He’s on his way, Hugh,” Balian assured him, holding his hand. The cold hand flinched slightly and then closed around Balian’s with surprising strength. His brother clamped his teeth together, apparently fighting a wave of pain. As the pain eased somewhat, Hugh started speaking earnestly. “Balian, I’m sorry to leave you like this. I had hoped —” He broke off with a gasp and held his breath until the pain had eased again. “Never forget that our father was a younger son. He came to Outremer with nothing. Nothing but his sword and his courage.”
Balian nodded. He himself had grown up knowing that with two elder brothers, he would inherit nothing. Hugh was still speaking. “He won Ibelin with his service to the King and nothing else.”
Balian nodded again; he was intimately familiar with his father’s history even if he had never known the man. Hugh had fought alongside their father for a decade and had raised Balian on tales of his father’s strength, courage, and wisdom.
“Barry will inherit Ibelin now—since I have no issue.” The dying man’s regret was audible, and Balian’s heart went out to him. Hugh’s mind, however, was on the younger brother he had raised like a son. “You’ll always have a place in Barry’s household—but that will bring you little. Neither honor nor fortune.”
Balian had to agree with that. He was only two years younger than their father’s namesake and in consequence had always lived in his brother’s shadow. Barry was tall, blond, and powerfully built. He cast a big shadow.
“Better to seek honor and wealth elsewhere,” Hugh advised, grasping Balian’s hand firmly for emphasis. Hugh and Barry had become increasingly estranged ever since Barry came of age and took control of Ramla. Ramla had an income four times that of Ibelin—and Hugh, who’d held Ramla for almost ten years as guardian for his younger brother, naturally felt the loss of both income and prestige. It didn’t help that the loss of Ramla had coincided with the “return” of Hugh’s lost bride, Agnes de Courtenay. She had done much to poison the atmosphere between the brothers.
“Jerusalem,” continued the dying man, drawing Balian’s attention back to the present. “Go to Jerusalem.” Balian frowned. He had been at court often enough with his brothers as a child, even attending the coronation and later the marriage of King Amalric, but he had not been to Jerusalem since he was knighted two years earlier and came to live again at Ibelin with Hugh.
“Jerusalem owes me a favor,” Hugh remarked, his contorted face twisting into a kind of smile, “and since I cannot call it in, I want you to. Go to Jerusalem and tell him I sent you on my deathbed to collect the debt.”
Balian suspected this had to do with his sister-in-law, Agnes. Amalric’s succession had been controversial at the time and contingent on him setting aside Agnes de Courtenay. Balian speculated that it was only because Hugh had agreed to take Agnes back that it had been possible for Amalric to persuade her, the Patriarch, and her powerful family to accept the dissolution of her marriage to Amalric. Then again, it didn’t really matter what debt the King owed Hugh, as long as it helped Balian in a court overflowing with young men who had come to seek their fortunes from all over Christendom. Balian wasn’t convinced he had much of a chance of rising among such competition, but he supposed this was as good a place to start as any. “I’ll go,” he assured his brother.
The pain had its grip on the dying man, and he could only clutch his brother’s hand and grind his teeth in answer. When the painreceded, he asked again for the priest.