source for free and affordable eBooks


Powered by FreeFind

Site search
Web search

    Review of DEVIL'S BARGAIN by Judith Tarr

    ROC, October 2002

    Richard the Lionhearted has won battles, but victory in his Crusade is far from clear. Saladin and his brother Ahmad command powerful armies of Islam--Arabs, Turks, Egyptians, and Kurds, all sworn to defend the holy city of Jerusalem. More dangerous still, to both Crusader and Jihad, is the Old Man of the Mountain, Sinan, chief of the Assassins. The dark lord he serves would destroy both Richard and Saladin. And Richard's mother, Eleanor, has promised Sinan Richard's soul if he will help Richard win Jerusalem.

    Richard's bastard sister Sioned, heir to the magics of Britain and the Celts, along with Richard's moorish servant Mustafa, stand against the assassins and the dark magic that they command. Yet, for Mustafa, aid for Richard means aid for the enemies of his faith. And will Sioned, relatively untrained in the ways of magic, be able to confront both Eleanor and Sinan? Or will her growing love for Ahmad force her to turn against the family that has always denied her?

    Author Judith Tarr (see more reviews of novels by Tarr) has created an emotionally compelling and exciting story of the third crusade. Her depiction of Richard, a noble warrior who holds the seeds of magic within him but denies them, is convincing and sympathetic. Sioned, with her celtic magics and her love for Achmad, is attractively conflicted. Mustafa is probably the most interesting character, uniquely able to penetrate both Islam and Crusader camps and learn secrets that swing the course of history.

    As Tarr notes in the Author's Note, the Third Crusade was something of a let-down. It petered out without resolving anything except for Europe's inability to unite long enough to accomplish anything. Yet, with a few shifts, it could have led to a decisively different present--and Tarr's magic certainly delivers those shifts. One major glitch stood out--why, exactly, did Ahmad visit Sinan and put himself in the Assassin's debt? Surely he could have accomplished everything Sinan did without the risk to his own soul. In this case, I think Tarr's author-desire to put more at stake detracted rather than added to the story. Still, DEVIL'S BARGAIN more than redeems this one flaw delivering an exciting and satisfying read.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 2/26/03

    Want to buy it? Click the button:

    Want to learn more?
    Click this link and see more reviews, similar books, and other Amazon information on DEVIL'S BARGAIN from (trade paperback).

    Rather buy it from Barnes and Noble?
    Click this link for DEVIL'S BARGAIN from Barnes and

    Too generous? Too stingy. Or did I miss the whole point? Send your comments to I'll publish the best letters I get so let me know if I can use your name. Banner Exchange