In the year 1096, the Kingdom of France is set ablaze by righteous fire. Men, women, brigand, and knight - with a promise of forgiveness of sins - answer the pope’s call to retake Jerusalem. In a village along the Oise River, Anseau of Valois, a young ploughman, has defied his Church, enraged his lord, and disappointed his father. His forbidden relationship with Channah, a Jew, forces him into the service of a bishop.
The bishop trains Anseau to chronicle a ragtag pilgrim army marching to reclaim Jerusalem. Completing this offers him absolution and a way back to Channah. However, after distinguishing himself in battle, Anseau proves himself a leader and becomes ensnared in the politics and subterfuge of a wayward campaign. Should Anseau survive, he must fight friend and foe, ally with the most unlikely of companions, and lead a resistance against the formidable Sultan of Rûm.
Meanwhile, Channah and her family come under attack by a different band of crusading pilgrims, and though Anseau doesn't know it, his fate and the fate of his army rests with Channah's ability to persevere and win the graces of an emperor.
Plot: The People's Crusade is a little slow at the start, but once it picks up steam readers won't be able to stop turning pages until they slam into the cliff-hanger and are left eager for the next book.
Prose: Jensen clearly has a way with words and his prose draws readers into the story. However, his habit of inserting modern phrases into what should be historical dialogue is a bit jarring.
Originality: The People's Crusade is a fresh, interesting novel featuring a strong storyline and original characters that feel and act like real people.
Character Development: The characters, especially the main characters, are strong and well-developed. They grow and mature over the course of the novel and readers will find themselves genuinely interested in what happens to them.
Date Submitted: May 10, 2018
"1066 was a catalyst for Saxon and Norman alike: that fateful day in October upon that bloody battlefield affected the lives of many people in many ways, for many years. The People’s Crusade accompanies a cast of richly-woven, believable characters as they confront the moral dilemmas of conquest, and the conflict of religious faith. A thoughtfully written, intriguing novel."
Chanticleer Reviews shortlisted The People's Crusade for the 2017 Chaucer Award for Historical Fiction pre-1750.