Review: De Gouden Dolk by Thea Beckman

Book review | De Gouden Dolk by Thea Beckman | 5 stars

De Gouden Dolk by Thea Beckman
Cover: Jan Wesseling
Lemniscaat 1982
ISBN 978 90 5637 847 9

 

Synopsis

Een oude vrouw voorspelt Jiri, een eenvoudige smidszoon, dat hij eens de eigenaar zal zijn van de beroemde Gouden Dolk.
Al heel jong had Jiri van zijn grootvader verhalen over die dolk gehoord, die in het bezit is van de heerser van Aleppo, de geweldenaar Nour-ed-Din. En hoe zal hij de dolk dan ooit kunnen bemachtigen? Moet hij daarvoor meegaan met de kruistocht tegen de Saracenen, juist tegen Nour-ed-Din, die de christelijke vorstendommen in Palestina bedreigt?
Na grote inspanningen bereikt Jiri eindelijk het Heilige Land. Hij komt zelfs tegenover Nour-ed-Din te staan; maar niet als een christenheld, zoals hij had gedroomd. Hij staat er geboeid als een krijgsgevangene klaar om op de slavenmarkt verkocht te worden. Is die voorspelling dan toch een grote vergissing?

An old woman predicts that Jiri, a simple son of a smith will once be the owner of the famous Golder Dagger.
Very early on in his life, Jiri heard stories about that dagger from his grandfather. It was in possession of the ruler of Aleppo, the tyrant Nour-ed-Din. And how will he ever be able to get the dagger? Does he have to go with the crusade against the Saracenes, against Nour-ed-Din, who is treatening the christian kingdowms of Palestine?
Through great effort, Jiri reaches the Holy Land. He even comes face-to-face with Nour-ed-Din, but not as a Christian hero, as he had dreamed. He stands there, shackled as a prisoner, waiting to be sold on the slave market. Was that prediction a big mistake after all?


Bullet-point review

★★★★★

+ food for thought
+ aren’t we all just people?
+ different viewpoints on
+ exciting adventure
+ well-written characters


Full Review

This book was a perfect pick, especially in today’s climate of terrorism. With its story about the crusade and the ‘devout’ Christians in it, it shows that terrorism and holy wars are nothing new. Of course, like most people I know this. However, it bears repeating. Another aspect was that it seems like the same areas are still mostly involved in these holy wars; the Middle East. The book (from 1983, based on a crusade in the 1100’s) spoke of cities like Aleppo and specifically refered to Syria as well. Strange that those places are still on the forefront of the same fights.

I really appreciated the different viewpoints in the book. There are the crusaders who are fighting a holy war, but there are also counter voices who inspire to thinking: maybe those Muslims are also people (a very controversial view in those days in Europe).

Besides the deep thought-parts, the story is also very exciting. The main character and his brother and very well-written and complex, especially their relationship. Plus, there’s a bit of a romance going on as well. Luckily, no love triangles!


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