Crossed is a complicated novel about the failed Fourth Crusade of 1202-4. Featuring an unnamed British musician and jack-of-all-trades as part-narrator, Gregor of Mainz, a religious knight whose diary also makes up the narration, his brother Otto, and a mysterious princess named Jamila, the novel begins in Venice, when the Briton saves Jamila from an unpleasant fate. The reader then accompanies the Crusade across Europe, from Venice to Zara to Constantinople.
I found it tough work to get through Crossed. There were times when I felt that my attention was flagging. There’s not much of Nicole Galland’s trademark wit here, and I felt that sometimes the narrative was missing pieces here and there. Galland knows the world of the thirteenth centuryl, and perhaps a little too well. Both of her previous books were set in this time period, and I’m afraid that she’s fallen into a little bit of a comfort zone. We get a lot of political history here, but it’s a little dry and bland.
I didn’t really like any of the characters, and by the end I found that I didn’t really care what happened to them. This novel was a bit of a disappointment to me, because I really like Nicole Galland’s writing style in general and the way in which she treats her historical period. I’d love to see her branch out a bit in her writing.
Also reviewed by: Devourer of Books, Medieval Bookworm