The Sword and the Dagger

The Sword and the Dagger by Robert Cochran
Robert Cochran
Oct 6, 2021

The Sword and the Dagger is an epic novel set during the time of the Crusades. Princess Elaine of Tripoli is betrothed to Prince Conrad of Antioch, but she cannot stand the idea of being married to a young man as imperious and sententious as him. Meanwhile, Conrad insists that the marriage must occur in order to unite their Christian kingdoms against enemies lurking east of their home. However, Rashid, a Muslim assassin, is ordered to kill Elaine. In a poorly attempted assassination, Rashid is caught and thrown in the dungeons, but Elaine demands he explain why he tried to murder her. When she releases him to show her his reasons, Conrad follows them, and the three wind up as a wary team that must travel together to discover who wants to kill Elaine, and in the process meet the most powerful man of the era.

First off, anyone who likes history will love this book, but it’s written in such a way that even if you don’t know a ton about the Middle Ages, you’ll still understand everything that’s going on. The historical aspect about Christian-Muslim encounters and what they thought of each other is very important, especially because Conrad and Rashid start out harboring utter hatred for each other. Neither trusts the other with Elaine, and they would have certainly left the other to die if Elaine hadn’t been there to insist otherwise. Nevertheless, through constant encounters with death and being forced to work together to survive, they start to grow on each other. By the end of the book, all three young adults are the best of friends. In addition, the characters’ personalities and development are remarkable: Elaine is a feminist and completely defies her gender role of the time period; Conrad starts out as sexist towards Elaine and religiously intolerant of Rashid, but by the end, his prejudice has been replaced by consideration and awareness of those unlike himself; and Rashid has the opportunity and the skills to kill both others, yet he spares them and chooses to work together. All in all, The Sword and the Dagger is an extraordinary read, and there is so much to love!


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