Staff Review: The Lady for Ransom – Alfred Duggan

9780753818299_p0_v1_s260x420By Chris

Duggan’s The Lady for Ransom is set in the 11th century just prior to the First Crusade. In those days a soldier could make himself a prince in the chaotic borderlands between Christendom and Islam, but the Norman mercenary Rousseul de Balliol sought only good pay, honest employers, and to retire someday rather than die on the battlefield. His wife Matilda, though, had greater ambitions for her husband. She led him east to Byzantium, fabulously wealthy but threatened by marauding Turks from abroad and civil war within. There Rousseul could find himself prince and rebel, general and fugitive, often simultaneously but never permanently. Rousseul de Balliol was a real historical figure, and all of the events of the novel actually happened. Duggan lets history write the plot and fills in characterization plausibly and with wit, which is how I like my historical fiction. The Lady for Ransom is a good read for anyone looking for a different take on medieval knights in a largely-untapped setting: The Byzantine Empire.

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