Helena Schrader's Historical Fiction

Understanding Ourselves by Understanding the Past.


My biographical novel of Balian d'Ibelin in three parts is complete, but the saga continues. Follow me to Cyprus, where Lusignans and Ibelins struggle to put down a rebellion and establish a durable state. Watch for excerpts and updates here.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Balian d'Ibelin and the Third Crusade




Welcome to the Rave Reviews Book Club 2016 Book and Blog Party. From Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Helena P. Schrader is delighted to participate in this event featuring a wide-range of talented authors from all literary genres.

If you leave a comment on this blog entry, you will qualify for a free ebook copy of "Envoy of Jerusalem."


Hollywood made him a blacksmith; Arab chronicles said he was "like a king."  
He served a leper, but defied Richard the Lionheart.
He fought Saladin to a stand-still, yet retained his respect.
Rather than dally with a princess, he  married a dowager queen -- and founded a dynasty. He was a warrior and a diplomat both:
Balian d'Ibelin

Balian d'Ibelin, the hero of Ridley Scott's film "The Kingdom of Heaven" was a historical figure, whose biography was significantly different from the Hollywood character. I have written a three-part biography of Balian based on the known historical facts and extensive research about his society and contemporaries. As with all my novels, particularly my biographical novels, the focus is on the characters, and I am a firm believer that human nature has not changed fundamentally over the millenniaapply my understanding of human nature gained over the decades to get inside the skin of my historical characters.

The Hollywood Balian was born a bastard, by trade a blacksmith, seducer of a princess, who returns to obscurity in France after the fall of Jerusalem. The historical Balian, in contrast, was the legitimate son of a baron of Jerusalem, born in the Holy Land, the husband of the Dowager Queen and Byzantine princess Maria Comnena, a member of the High Court, and Richard the Lionheart's ambassador to Saladin.

For readers tired of cliches, cartoons and fantasy, my three-part biography of Balian based on the above facts not only brings this important and attractive historical character back to life, it provides refreshing insights into everyday life in the late 12th century crusader states. Rich in complex characters, "Envoy of Jerusalem," provides psychologically sound explanations for the decisions and actions of the men and women who made history in this fateful place and period. It offers humans in place of villains and supermen.

"Envoy of Jerusalem" covers the critical five years between the fall of Jerusalem to the end of the Third Crusade. When the novel opens, Balian has survived the devastating defeat of the Christian army on the Horns of Hattin, and walked away a free man after the surrender of Jerusalem, but he is baron of nothing in a kingdom that no longer exists. Haunted by the tens of thousands of Christians captives now in Saracen slavery, Balian is determined to regain what has been lost. The arrival of a vast crusading army under the soon-to-be-legendary Richard the Lionheart offers hope - but also conflict as natives and crusaders clash and French and English quarrel.

This novel follows the fate not just of kings and barons, but also knights, squires, sailors and tradesmen. It particularly focuses on the horrific impact of a lost war on women - many of whom were condemned to slavery and prostitution in the wake of defeat.

"Envoy of Jerusalem" portrays the clash of cultures between the natives of the Holy Land and the crusaders. It, unlike most novels set in this period, describes the Third Crusade through the eyes of the men and women who called the Holy Land "home," rather than those that came out from the West. Likewise, Richard the Lionheart is shown as a man of many parts, rather than a brute, buffoon or paragon of virtue.

Last but not least, "Envoy of Jerusalem" explores the crisis in faith that the fall of Jerusalem produced among Christians of the period. The characters struggle with understanding the will of God and their individual role and place in the presumed divine plan. 
Hope I've whet your appetite! 

For more information about Balian visit his website at: http://defenderofjerusalem.com -- and be sure to check out the next stop for BOOK & BLOG BLOCK PARTY!



82 comments:

  1. Hi
    I enjoyed this. Your books sounds fascinating to me. I love history and this sounds like an area I don't know as much about as I thought I did. I look forward to reading your book. Thanks

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  2. I haven't watched "The Kingdom of Heaven" and I am not a history buff, so I can honestly say I know nothing about this guy. lol! And as someone who tends to stay away from historical works, I can admit that you make this man's life seem interesting enough to want to read. Great job with the blog! I know I'm early to the party, but I've got a busy day ahead of me and wanted to make sure I stopped by. :-)

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting -- even if it's not really your genre!

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  3. Great post, Helena, and some interesting history ... looks like another book for my TBR. I love the cover too. Very best wishes with everything :)

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    1. Thanks, Harmony! I know your a great supporter of this group.

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  4. Amazing blog, Helen. I took a tour of your page and was surprised by not only the fact that you have a number of historical books from the middle ages but also three from WW ll. You obviously are a dedicated researcher and I am very impressed.

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    1. Yes, I've been around awhile. My dissertation was on the German Resistance to Hitler, then I branched out to the Battle of Britain, Women in Aviation and the Berlin Airlift (that was really fun!). Then I got fascinated by Ancient Sparta and now the crusades.

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  5. Great post - looks like you do some great historical writing :) Nice to meet you :)

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  6. Have you always loved history? Very impressive research and blog! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Yes, I got hooked on history very early because my family traveled to Rome when I was four. Haven't lost interest since....

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  7. This history is fascinating and I especially enjoy history involving Jerusalem. You must have done a great deal of research. I am adding this to my "to read" list.

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  8. Intriguing post, Helena. I'm unfamiliar with the movie: Kingdom of Heaven, so this is new to me. I really appreciate how you've researched your material. Kudos to you!

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  9. Hmm, I'm not familiar with Ridley Scott's movie, but after reading your blog post I can tell this is a historical figure and a time period that you have spent a lot of time researching. I do enjoy historical novels, though I don't read all time periods. I'm so impressed by the work you've done and will need to add this series to my TBR. Wishing you a fantastic day at the blog party!

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    1. The movie came out in 2005, so you're probably just a lot younger than I am. Still, it reached millions and starred Orlando Bloom, so a lot of people know about it. Thanks for stopping by.

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  11. Looks like I'll have to return to this wonderful genre, Helena - the book sounds fascinating! I taught History for over 3 decades, so I'm somewhat familiar with the period. Have a great day on the Block Party!

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    1. John, hope you read, enjoy and then send me your comments! I love to hear from readers and hearing from a history teacher would be particularly interesting.

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  12. Helena, as a lover of historical books, non-fiction and fictional I am quite interested in reading your three books. They sound quite fascinating.

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    1. Delighted to meet another lover of history and historical fiction. Hope you enjoy my books. I love feed-back, so don't hesitate to let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by.

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  13. This sounds like a fascinating book. I love historical novels, especially if they are true to the time and characters, which this one sounds like it is.

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    1. Rebecca, I have a PhD in history so making sure a book is as accurate as possible is a passion. I also provide extensive historical notes, genealogy tables, maps and glossary. Hope you'll give my books a try.

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  14. I'm not really a history buff but it looks like you've done a lot of research. Enjoy your day on the block party!

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    1. Michelle, my books certainly aren't for everyone, but thanks for stopping by!

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  15. Great post Helena - these wars are still kicking us in this modern world so this may be historical fiction but it's bang up to date on a human level. Treating the subject matter on a human level is the way to go and I admire you for telling of these times warts and all. Getting the book now! :-D
    Have a terrific day today - and see you later on during this month-long party! ;-)

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    1. This history is indeed tragically relevant -- from the refugee crises to jihadists. Hope you enjoy the book! I welcome feedback anytime.

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  16. Helena, your books sound fascinating and well researched in an area I know almost nothing about. Will add to my list of soon to be read books. Wonderful description and very intriguing.

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  17. Thanks for hosting the party today Helena. Your work sounds really interesting. History books can be so fascinating!

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  18. Thank you, Helena, for the fascinating information about this time following the Third Crusade. I'm looking forward to reading the entire trilogy!

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    1. Thank you, Patricia! Hope you enjoy them.

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  19. What a fascinating post, Helena. It is an honor to stop by your site today. Best wishes to you.

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  20. That's an impressive body of work. I always respect the amount of research that goes into historical fiction.

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    1. The secret is loving the research! I've discovered so many fascinating things. Thanks for stopping by.

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  21. Patricia M JacksonSunday, August 07, 2016

    Thank you so much for your very interesting stop on the blog tour, Helena. As a history buff, I've now got something new for my TBR pile.

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    1. Joanne, you're the winner of the give-away! Please contact me at hps_books@yahoo.com to arrange delivery. Hope you'll enjoy "Envoy of Jerusalem."

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    2. Joanne, since we have not heard from you, the prize will be given to the alternative winner. Sorry. Helena

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  23. Awesome blog post! Really great information and I love the idea behind your book! I'll have to check it out because I love history stuff!

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  24. Helena, this is some really interesting subject matter that definitely gets my attention. I'll certainly be reading your work soon and look forward to learning more about Balian! Enjoy the day hosting the block party!

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    1. Thank you! Hope you enjoy the book, and remember I always welcome feedback.

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  25. Your books sound very interesting. I did see the movie and loved it so I'm sure I would love learning more about Balian d'Ibelin. The older I get the more interested I am in the history of places and people.

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    1. I loved the movie too! That's how I got interested in Balian and discovered the historical character was more intriguing than the Hollywood character. I find that when I know something really happened it means more to me than if it's pure fiction. Thanks for stopping by.

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  26. Hi Helena - great background on your main character - Hollywood almost always gets it wrong don't they? Good luck with your novel and have fun on the RRBC Back to School Blog Block Party today! - MikeL

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    1. Yes, Hollywood even thought they could improve on the Iliad.... But the special effects and costumes can be terrific! Thanks for stopping by.

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  27. Envoy of Jerusalem must be awesome with all the research you have done. I must have this book on my TBR list!

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    1. Well, if you win the prize, you'll have a copy by tomorrow! Thanks for stopping by.

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  28. This sounds fascinating. I love history, love reading about the Crusades, and your book is going in my TBR list.

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    1. It is a fascinating piece of history. Hope you get around to reading my books. Meanwhile, thanks for stopping by.

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  29. I love historical fiction and your book looks fascinating! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Linda, thanks for stopping by. Hope you'll find the time to check out my website and buy one or another of my books.

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  30. Great historical photos and art - interesting time period.
    Cheers,
    Wendy

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    1. Interesting and relevant -- refugees, jihadists, slavery...

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  31. I never heard of Balian d'Ibelin. Sounds intriguing. I'll be adding this book to my TBR list! Cheers! S.J. francis

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  32. I couldn't find a button to Like this post, but I sure did. I love historical novels, especially when they are founded in fact. I'm so glad you joined this tour, and I hope you have a wonderful day. 😀

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    1. Thank you, Rhani. What I love about historical biography is that sense of people really did these things. It's not just fantasy or someone's imagination, its what real people did. There are so many wonderful true stories worthy of books.

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  33. I never heard of Balian d'Ibelin. Sounds intriguing. I'll be adding this book to my TBR list! Cheers! S.J. francis

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  34. Hi Helena! Thanks for joining in on the blog party fun! Sometimes it really makes me scratch my head when I learn just how much Hollywood twists history around. I get it; they're trying to sell movies. That being said, I think the man you described as he actually lived was just as, if not more interesting than his Hollywood counterpart! Thanks for sharing and enjoy your day! ~Stephanie

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  35. This sounds fascinating, Helena! I especially like that you're concentrating on character development rather than history or plot. I love character-driven fiction. Best wishes!

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  36. Great post, Helena! "Envoy of Jerusalem" sounds like it took some time to research and write. Were you motivated to correct a wrong (Ridley Scott)? Or would you have written it anyway? I'm always interested in motivation. Enjoy the rest of the tour!

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    1. The film made me ask "how much of this is true?" (seeing as I know Hollywood often gets history very wrong). I was surprised to discover that Balian was a real character and that made me want to know more. The more I learned, the more I wanted to tell his true story. So I didn't start out wanting to correct Hollywood, and I still think Scott did a great job as a film-maker. He certainly had great costumes and sets. Any film that makes people want to learn more is a good thing!

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  37. I almost forgot that we are two people partying today. Sorry for the lateness. Anymore drinks and scraps left? I am so hungry! Great attendance Helena! I hope you are having a wonderful time. I had to leave my guests for a while to be here. Well, I'll have to be off now. Enjoy your party. :)

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to stop by! Hope you had as great a day as I did!

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  38. Congratulations, Helena, on the release of Envoy of Jerusalem. This is truly fascinating. I have profound respect for your commitment to preserve history in its purest form. Bravo! It's alarming to know how "adapted" films are, particularly when depicting historical figures such as Balian d'Ibelin. Thanks for sharing this with us. :)

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    1. Thank you. As I mentioned above, I'm actually grateful to Scott for making "The Kingdom of Heaven." Otherwise I would never have discovered Balian. Hollywood gets history wrong -- but it can still produce great entertainment. Serious historical fiction writers need to learn more about Hollywood's knack for capturing the imagination and emotions of the public and then combine that with the true story. At least that's what I try to do. Thanks for stopping by.

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  39. I love how unique this book is. Great blog block party stop.

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  40. Hi Helena, nice meeting you. The artwork on your site is fantastic. I like historical books and don't know much about This part of Africa so your book sounds inviting. Best of luck with it!

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    1. Thank you. Just to be clear, I live in Addis Ababa, but the book is set in the Holy Land, modern Lebanon and Israel to be precise.

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  41. Fantastic information. I love it when people set the record straight after Hollywood bungles it!

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  42. It so happens that I'm related to Maria Comnena on my mother's side. I had no idea about Balian, so I'm thrilled that you have written his biography!

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    1. That's fascinating! Hope you buy the trilogy. Maria plays a prominent role in all three books -- and I think you'll like her! I also provide genealogy tables and historical notes that you may find useful.

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  43. Hi, Helena! What an enlightening post! A history buff (friend of mine) stopped by and read your post and absolutely loved it! So, kudos to you! Have fun today!

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