Upon the premature death of his father, BALDWIN IV, stricken with leprosy from a young age, ascends to the throne of Jherusalem at the age of thirteen. Immediately, enemies threaten his reign as war looms with the great leader of Islam, SALEHDIN. Guided by his trusted friend and Chancellor, Archbishop WILLIAM of Tyre, the young leper sets out to prove himself worthy of the crown, despite the political intrigues of his own High Court. Among those at Court with whom he must contend are his recently returned mother, AGNES de Courtenay, a grasping woman of immoral character, and his sister, SIBYLLA, who comes to Court after spending most of her life shut away from the world in a convent to marry a Western lord against her will.
Being a minor, Baldwin must submit to the Regency of his much older cousin, RAYMOND III of Tripoli; but the young king chaffs beneath the Regent’s authority, longing to put it behind him so he can pursue his own course of action against the enemy. While Raymond continually argues for peace with the Muslims, Baldwin and the new lord of Kerak, REYNALD de Châtillon, hope to bring the Sarrazins to war before the sultan’s power grows too strong to push back.
Unbeknownst to the king and the lords of Outremer, an old and secret cabal of heretic conspirators known only as the Order of Sion led by one, AMALRIC de Lusignan, that seeks to gain control of the kingdom. Their purpose is to proclaim a new form of Christianity with Jherusalem as its ecclesiastical seat of power in opposition to Rome and to crown a sacred king of their own making. That sacred king is none other than Amalric’s brother, GUION de Lusignan, whom they claim is a blood descendant of Jhésu Christ. In this conspiracy, two influential men of the kingdom aid them: HERACLIUS, Archbishop of Caesarea and OTHON de Saint-Amant, Master of the famed warrior-monks, the Knights Templar. Saint-Amant, however, is a deeply conflicted man who begins to question how Sion, and the secretive master he reluctantly follows, is manipulating him and his Order. With Agnes’ diseased son crowned king, it isn’t long before Lusignan draws her into the intrigues of the conspiracy as well with the belief she can protect her son.
Seeking divine guidance in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the aftermath of battle, Baldwin meets, by chance, an elderly woman who thanks him for a simple act of his kindness. He is astonished, though, when she casts aside her cloak and disguise, revealing to him that she is MARY MAGDALEN, a beautiful and immortal woman of Faerie who vows to guide and befriend him. Only later does she tell him that his leprosy is not the result of disease, but of a magic spell cast by an unseen enemy; a spell that not only devours the king’s life, but also becomes the enemy’s own undoing.
Publishing Date: April 2, 2009
Also Available in E-Book format through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
fiction, history, fantasy
science fiction fantasy
Scott R. Rezer is the author of The Leper King, a novel set in the turbulent days of Crusader Jerusalem. He met his wife while serving in the US Air Force and married in 1984. They have two children and live in Tucson, Arizona. He is currently at work on a sequel called The Gambit Queen.
Although a novel of the Crusades, The Leper King presents a story as relevant today as it was in the eleventh century. "Holy wars and jihads between Christians and Muslims are nothing new, neither are voices of heresy within and without the Church. But imagine setting the character of an immortal saint in the midst of a Jerusalem rife with magic and mayhem, giving Mary Magdalen the opportunity to defend her faith and those she has come to love against the enemies of truth."