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am 19. Juni 2000
I'm not entirely convinced that the person who submitted the negative reviews below actually read the book, so I am submitting my personal impressions of the book instead.
Lawhead is second to none in the genre of historical fiction, but don't take my word for it, books like Byzantium and the Pendragon cycle are now the industry's established benchmark for their respective themes. And that is not without good reason.
The first thing that you notice as you read this (or any other Lawhead) book, is the attention to detail that instead of making the story tedious, transport you there instantly. The pace and style of this book is somewhere between Ben Hur and Indiana Jones, with a dash of Ivanhoe, and the Ancient-meets-Medieval melange of genres is pulled off masterfully by this skilled author.
This is a fine novel, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I have ordered Black Rood, which seems to be getting good reviews as well, but I do not need a review to tell me how good these books are. They are treasures, and I will read this again (something I rarely do) while I wait for The Black Rood!
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am 26. Juni 1999
Once again Lawhead turns his attentions to a prominent place in our history, this time the Crusades.
Lawhead is a highly talented writer but too often settles for easy, trite answers and peoples his stories with shallow, one-dimensional characters. Unfortunately the protagonist in this one, Murdo, is one of his worst creations. Yet another cliched innocent young man wronged by someone more powerful (nothing wrong with that part in theory), Murdo is an unexceptional character: a whiny, weak, frightened, unskilled farmboy who spends have the novel pining away for his love Ragna.
This is another of Lawhead's increasingly torturous tricks: placing his lead into a position of yearning and lust for a woman flirts and plays him but never comes clean about her intentions. Again, nothing wrong with this in theory but since we seen it from him about ten times over the last fifteen years this device is extremely tired and worn out.
As are Lawhead's descriptions of battles... it's as if he just copies out the prose from his other novels Taleisin, Merlin, Arthur, and transposes them here.
But the worst part of Lawhead's narratives these days are his incessant reminders of what a great and powerful God these warriors follow. Heavy handed and predictable comments about how 'good God is' and how 'kind Jesu is' have grown so wearisome on the reader over the years that though I've come to expect it in every novel now I can hardly stomach these contrived 'subplots'. In Byzantium it Adain's loss of faith and subsequently illogical and abrupt re-embrace of his beliefs and in Iron Lance it is Murdo's rather contrived plot device of despising Christians and their religion because of the church's seizure of his lands... only to inexplicably embrace this God whom he so loathed.
Lawhead is a once great writer who's prose is ever engaging and absorbing but his instincts have become blunted and his skills softened over the years. Someone clearly past his prime (though Byzantium was close to recapturing that old glory).
Steer clear of this one and instead pick up the stirring and moving - and dare I say BRILLIANT - first three books of the Pendragon Cycle the aforementioned Taleisin, Merlin and Arthur. It doesn't get any better than that.
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am 3. September 1999
This is a must read! Lawhead has always done an incredible job writing trilogies (the original Pendragon trilogy, the Dragon King trilogy, and the Song of Albion trilogy were all excellent), but The Celtic Crusades just might surpass them all. The reason is the stregth of the historical truth that is behind this novel, and the books to follow. Lawhead has always done a wonderful job at historical research and his study of the Crusades is evident. Words aren't minced - he show's it exactly how it happened (or almost, historically it was bloodier). The Iron Lance is a sequal to Byzantium (a few hundred years later)and the book is just as good. If you enjoyed Byzantium (or any of Lawheads previous books - as I do - note my cool email address), you'll love The Iron Lance. I'm already watching the out-of-print web sources for The Black Rood advance copy. I can tell that this is a trilogy that will get stronger with every book. Read this book, you won't regret it - I guarantee! Also, ignore the bad review a few down from me, he obviously is missing a lot!
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am 4. Dezember 1999
As in all of Stephen Lawhead's novels, the strength here lies in the setting. Though I'm not expert enough to say whether he accurately depicted the Crusades, the scenes in the book evoke realistic images.
The story has its merits, though there's not much to distinguish it from other 'quest' stories. Perhaps my memory is faulty but I recall 'Byzantium' to have had a much stronger plot. At times during the novel (particularly scenes with Emperor Alexius) I had to resist the urge to skip ahead. Looking back now I'm sorry I didn't. The scenes didn't convey any vital information and only served to disrupt the flow of the story.
At the conclusion of the book it felt like I was reading a Horatio Alger novel. Our Hero gets the riches, gets huge tracts of land, and gets the girl, all by being honest and brave.
Definitely not Lawhead's best work. Try the Empyrion books or the Albion trilogy for excellent fantasy.
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am 17. Januar 1999
Once again, I found myself pulled into a world almost 1000 years old. Each of Lawhead's books has affected me in a very strong way. This book did it again. The story pulled at all my emotions, pulling laughter, enjoyment, and tears out of me at different points. I enjoyed the book very much and would recomend it to anyone interested in the time of the Crusades. It makes them real in a sense that I could never get from a textbook. Lawhead also tends to make his stories morality plays, and this happens in this story. Sometimes, when I finish a book, even though I enjoyed it I feel that it really does not have much of a point to it. I have not found this to be true of any of Lawhead's books, definitely not this one. The only reason I did not give this book a full five stars is that it is not as good as Merlin, my favorite of his books. But it is an incredible book that I highly recomend.
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am 29. Oktober 1999
Lawhead has been writing worse and worse as the years go on. I don't know if he has gotten comfortable in his popularity, or what. His previous book was so boring that I returned it after the 3rd chapter.
He fails to make things real to the reader. You're not really there, you don't understand the characters or feel their pain. It's very devoid of feeling or intrigue. There was way too much dialogue and not enough action. The action you do get shows woman's children getting butchered and drowned. Then it shows you in detail how they kill the woman. Sure, this all happened, but it doesn't really add to the story or to the character's development.
I had to wade through the bland dialogue, weak action, and OK plot development. I don't want to know how he is going to make a series out of this. It was blah, why more? I wouldn't recommend this book.
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am 17. Mai 2000
I can't understand why the author bothered with the character of the Scots lawyer,time travelling back to the time of the Crusades. The story stands on its own feet without the need for a framework. The greed and larceny of the bishops and senior churchmen doesn't do much to enhance ones view of the early Christian church and the terrible horror of war and destruction and wholesale slaughter by both christians and non-christians alike is shocking in its savagery. In spite of all this,it's a fascinating window into the lifestyles and minds of all classes of people of that era. I'm looking forward to volume two.
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am 26. Januar 2000
The only other Lawhead book I had read prior to this one was "Byzantium". Needless to say, "The Iron Lance" is inferior to "Byzantium".
This isn't to say that the book is not without its strengths. The protaganist is a fairly well developed character for whom it is easy for the reader to empathize. Lawhead is at his best in the action scenes. He paints vividly with his writing as he describes the horrors of the Crusades.
I will recommend this book, but if you haven't read anything by Stephen Lawhead then you should read "Byzantium". Its is best work yet.
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am 14. Dezember 1998
Having read all of Lawheads major works I can easily say that this is one of his finest achievements. Within these pages you will experience the treachery of monarchs, the plotting of kings and nobles, the loss of loved ones, the tenderness of true love, the warmth of true friends, and the excitement of a raging battle. All of this comes together to make a tapestry of epic story telling and an adventure as timeless as they come. So if you have read Lawhead in the past and enjoyed his works then I urge you to get this book. And if you have never read Lawhead before this is a great place to start.
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am 17. März 1999
Steven Lawhead proves with "The Iron Lance" it takes a lot of imagination and action to make the Dark Ages come alive in our minds. "The Iron Lance" is one of those books that captures not just your attention, but also your life for the duration of the book; one who is in the process reading cannot leave the book sitting for long. The reader becomes the character and engages in the character's adventures in one of the most intriguing historical events of the Western Civilization: The Crusades.
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